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Local schools adjust to new statewide student information system

Hartselle High School Principle Dr. Brad Cooper

By Wes Tomlinson

For the Enquirer

Alabama schools are switching from the iNow student information system to PowerSchool this school year after the transition was postponed the past year because of the pandemic.

At Hartselle High School, Principal Brad Cooper said his faculty has had no major issues moving to the new system.

“All of our teachers have been through training since before school began,” Cooper said.

He said the only obstacle has been re-learning a different system, and they are still waiting on parent portal information – the portion of the program that provides parents immediate access to grades and attendance records.

Tim Southerland, technology coordinator for Hartselle City Schools, said the new PowerSchool system is better adapted to modern technology.

“We started using iNow in 2011. PowerSchool is an updated system that correlates with today’s technology instead of technology 10 years ago,” he said.

The transition to the new system has been a success, but the technology department at Hartselle City Schools had to undergo a substantial amount of work.

“There was a tremendous amount of clean-up,” Southerland said, “We made it to where teachers, administrators and school nurses have different levels of access to the system.”

Teachers will be able to see their classes and grades and take attendance, while principals will have access to all information about students in their respective schools. Only the technology coordinators have access to all features of PowerSchool and can see information from students across their districts.

Parents will have the convenience of checking on attendance and looking at grades from their cellphones.

“This system is a lot more user friendly,” noted Lee Willis, deputy superintendent and technical director for Morgan County Schools.

Willis said everything about PowerSchool is computerized.

“When a student moves to another school system in the state, their records will follow them digitally,” Willis said, “All of their information is being protected and housed in Montgomery by the Department of Education.”

With iNow, records had to be printed out and mailed to schools when a student transferred.

Willis said at the state level, student data is protected much more securely.

He said the new system is an improvement, but there will have to be some adjustments made along the way in order for the system to be complete.

“It’s just like a machine,” Willis said. “There are many different triggers and components that have to be in place and working in order for the machine to operate.”

 

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