Although I have over 25 years of for-profit corporate America experience, I am not one to think that we should leverage everything from the business field to the education field. However, I do think there are areas where the educational field could learn more from the business field.
One of those areas is student information systems, or SIS for short. Simply stated, a good SIS manages student data and should cover areas like scheduling, grading, attendance, discipline records, etc. I look at this as backbone stuff. Every school has to do it and do it well.
I liken it to an accounting system in corporate America. You have to do it well, but let’s face it, invoicing is invoicing. Companies don’t get a competitive advantage from this activity. (Of course they could be at a disadvantage if they don’t do it well).
When Madonna first started singing about being touched for the first time, corporate America had hundreds of accounting systems. In fact, one company, depending on its size, could have several accounting systems. Today, efficiency rules, and the likes of Oracle and SAP are generally used in large companies. Large companies that have more than one accounting system are ridiculed as being behind the times.
Why then, are “a-ha” tunes still heard echoing in education halls? I work in a small state, and there are at least ten SIS applications. That means that data collection at a state level is complicated and knowledgeable resources in one SIS system cannot be leveraged across multiple LEAs.
The only reason to have variance is if it is bringing a significant value to the student experience. If that advantage is not there, then one SIS should suffice for a region or state. If you disagree, let me know and… “Hit me with your best shot.”