Supporting Ohio School Districts with Frontline Ohio SIS (ProgressBook)
How Western Ohio Computer Organization helps districts in five counties manage student information and comply with EMIS reporting.
At a Glance:
- Sidney, Ohio
- 34 public school districts, 5 public charter schools, 4 non-public districts
Frontline Solutions Used:
- Frontline SIS
School districts in five counties in the Buckeye State rely on Western Ohio Computer Organization, an Information Technology Center (ITC) that provides fiscal services, student administration systems, education services, and technical services to its member districts. WOCO, as it’s known, is a small organization with a staff of 13, solely focused on serving schools since it was formed in 1980.
Years ago, WOCO’s school districts kept student information the same way everyone else did. “When I was starting, it was file folders and paper. You signed a piece of paper as a parent, and you kept that in a folder. When you went to look for them, you went to the filing cabinet,” said Andy Kemmer, one of WOCO’s Student Services Support Specialists.
That changed when WOCO began offering Frontline Ohio SIS, a student information system also known as ProgressBook. Districts that WOCO supports use Frontline for all student data, including grades, attendance, discipline incidents, report cards, transcripts, graduation requirements, and assessment data. Frontline Ohio SIS also helps them with the Ohio’s Education Management Information System (EMIS) reporting, providing tools to collect, verify, and submit data to the state. With the data all in one place, submitting those reports is far quicker and easier.
Ohio Districts Have a Voice
The data reporting that Ohio’s Department of Education requires is demanding. “Ohio schools report on many more pieces of data compared to many other states,” said Jay Wentz, another one of WOCO’s Student Services Support Representatives. But because Frontline Ohio SIS is Ohio-specific, the team at WOCO knows that the system is built with the needs of their customer districts in mind — and is developed with feedback from those districts and ITCs. “We can communicate what’s important,” DBA/Student Services Manager Julie Ellis said, “getting the focus where we want it to be to make the product better and more efficient.”
That feedback has been key since the earliest days of the system, Jay noted. “Quite often, ProgressBook’s application teams present us with a list of the top 20 defects and enhancements and asks us to prioritize their importance based off our districts’ needs.”
The team called out the system’s Parent Access portal in particular. “Parents can see what’s going on with their kids in real time: discipline, attendance, assignments scores, and report cards. “That’s big. Those things are big,” said Andy. Jay said that parents like it, too. “We don’t hear a lot of complaints about ParentAccess and that tells me, for the most part, Frontline is getting it right with the parent portal.”
Perhaps the most important thing that WOCO offers and is enabled by Frontline SIS, is access to accurate data. Andy helps schools create schedules in advance of the school year. “Being able to create an accurate master schedule for a school, a schedule for a student, and make sure those classes are counted correctly as far as credits, CCP, and EMIS are concerned, are important items that maybe the community doesn’t fully understand, but certainly benefits from.”
Monitoring student progress is vital as well. “When we have kids that are being considered for scholarships and things like that, making sure the students’ accomplishments are records correctly is crucial. It’s important to me at an ITC level. I want to make sure the school has an accurate count of who’s doing well in their school. And from the other end, I want to make sure they know which kids are struggling. The schools can see those things, and being able to help them see those things is big.”
Having all that data in one place is no small thing, and that’s why WOCO is “all in” with Frontline Ohio SIS. They use every module of the system, including StudentInformation, GradeBook, DataMap, and SpecialServices.
Andy said that’s key from a support perspective. In addition to the core attendance, grades, and discipline information, if districts are looking for software to help them with additional tasks, that functionality is often already available to them. “We can say, ‘You’re already paying for this. Why don’t we try this solution first? You’re looking for assessment data? Let’s look at DataMap. Interested in IEP stuff or special services? You’re already getting that.’ Being all in keeps it all together, helps us be more streamlined across all of our districts, because everybody is using the same software.”
“Being all-in keeps it all together, helps us be more streamlined across all of our districts, because everybody is using the same software.”
That means the staff at WOCO can focus on supporting districts rather than trying to implement new software systems, and it’s much easier to transfer student data from one district to another if a student begins attending another district. EMIS reporting is much simpler. And when issues arise, WOCO can provide the same solutions to each district they serve. “From a support perspective, it’s excellent that no one uses anything else. If everybody drove a Chevy, we’d only have a mechanic that worked on Chevys. Support-wise, I think it’s good.”
Jay said that’s critical with WOCO’s small number of staff. “By staying within the suite, it allows us as support technicians to truly become experts on the product. If we had more schools that looked outside of the suite of products that Frontline produces, being experts in those products is more difficult.”
Julie agrees, and said that when districts look outside of Frontline, it complicates things. “In order to integrate the data between products, I must work with the vendor to find out exactly what they call the fields that ProgressBook calls something else. Then when something doesn’t integrate correctly, then I’ve got to try to figure out why. With integration within the suite, I can troubleshoot much better.”
Many staff at WOCO have been working with the same WOCO districts for years. Andy said that when those districts welcome new staff, that institutional knowledge is priceless. “Our level of familiarity with those districts lets us say, ‘I remember how your predecessor did this. I helped them set that up.’ Those kinds of things are irreplaceable to the district to have that level of support. The only way that level of support happens is if everybody is using the same software, the same suite.”
About Frontline Education
Frontline Education is a leading provider of school administration software, connecting solutions for student and special programs, business operations and human capital management with powerful analytics to empower educators. Frontline partners with school systems to deliver tools, data and insights that support greater efficiency and productivity, enabling school leaders to spend more time and resources executing strategies that drive educator effectiveness, student success and district excellence.
Frontline’s broad portfolio includes solutions for proactive recruiting and hiring, absence and time management, professional growth, student information systems, special education, special programs, Medicaid reimbursement, school health management, inventory control and asset management, payroll, benefits and financial management, and analytics solutions that help district leaders tap into their data to make more informed decisions for the benefit of their students and communities. Over 10,000 clients representing millions of educators, administrators and support personnel have partnered with Frontline Education in their efforts to develop the next generation of learners.
Learn more at www.FrontlineEducation.com