A place to share experiences with transitioning to Infinite Campus. Everything from issues you experienced and perhaps solutions to unexpected costs and disappointments. Wave 1 folks please fill us in on how it is going!
KAINA

MSAD 35

Well folks, I can tell you that the 10 week implementation plan is definitely not ideal. The data sheets consume a massive amount of time, especially if you're planning to convert multiple years of data. I'm sure it has been much more difficult for me than for a typical district but that is because we're coming from having a separate, independent SIS database in each school. We had no correlation between students of the same family at different buildings, no standard format for ID's, and no standard record-keeping practices. I have a few recommendations for everyone:

1) Standardize ALL your formatting prior to the transition. It will make data extraction much easier.
  • Names: Do you list titles (Mr., Ms., Dr., etc.)? There is no separate field for title in IC so if you use it, make sure it is part of the name field. You are probably better off not using it but it is up to you. Do you list suffixes (Jr., III, Esq., etc)? These need to be a separate field in IC so make sure you double check them.
  • Phone numbers: All phone numbers in IC must be 10 digits so you'll want to make sure the area codes are included and extra "1's" (for long distance) are excluded. This might be easier for those of you farther north, but we have a lot of NH and MA numbers down here.
  • Addresses: This is CRITICAL!!! If you have schools listing addresses differently you'll end up creating multiple listings in IC for the same address. This will cause problems with family associations, guardian associations, Guardian Portal logins, etc.
    • Spell out all street designations (Street, Road, Lane, Drive, Court, etc.) rather than using abbreviations.
    • Spell out street directions (Kings Highway South) rather than using abbreviations.
    • Leave out all apostrophes.
    • Make sure all two-word street names are actually two words (Belle Marsh Road vs. Bellemarsh Road).
    • Spell out town names fully (South Berwick vs. So. Berwick).
    • Standard apartment/unit listings for all addresses (25A Main Street vs. 25 Main Street Apt. A)
    • Create a manual with all the rules for standardization that you've settled on and put it into immediate effect.

2) GET SOME HELP! You can't do all the data transition yourself. At least you can't if you want to still be able to do your regular job. I've lost track of the number of nights and weekends I've spent trying to straighten out data. Divide and conquer. Use your building-based experts (generally secretaries) as much as time allows. There is a lot of repetition involved so ask your tech staff to help with some of the dirty work.

3) Start as early as possible. You'll probably be pushing up against deadlines no matter what you do but the more you can do early, the better the process will be for you. Start the dialog with key people now to start preparing them for fact the the transition is coming. get everyone thinking and talking about it.

4) Start an open dialog with regards to district-wide practices. How is student registration done in your district? How are employee records kept and updated? What are the district standards for attendance, grading, reporting, etc? If your district is not already using a unified SIS, this step is important for establishign coherence among the schools.

5) Identify key personnel and update them frequently on where things stand, the timeline, and how it impacts them. Knowledge and involvement gives them a sense of participation which is crucial to making the transition smoother. You'll want each principal to identify Building Coaches (building-based experts - Up to 2 per building) and Teacher Coaches (4 per HS/MS, 2 per Elem). These individuals will be responsible for training others so they should be tech-savvy and willing to take on responsibility. Create mailing lists for the different training groups and keep them up to date on their involvement, responsibilities, and training schedule. These groups include: System Admin, Building Coaches, Teacher Coaches, Building Administrators, Counselors, Nurses, Attendance Clericals, Registration Clericals, Clericals, and District Office Users (read-only).

6) Create a post-implementation plan. What do you actually plan to go live with? Demographics? Attendance? Gradebook? Transcripts? You may not want to use everything right off because your teachers will not have enough time to start using grading features depending on when you implement. You'll have to make your own judgements based on your timeline and the comfort level of your teachers/administrators.

I hope this info helps folks. Feel free to add to my thoughts. - Scott Bourgoin, MSAD 35