Last Spring the words Infinite Campus were exciting words. The two simple words evoked promise of a brighter future, of hope, and of positive change. Just a few months later the words Infinite Campus may be classified as dirty words within Worthington Schools. What went wrong? Nothing, really, please let me explain.
Previous to this school year Worthington has used a Worthington created computer program for EMIS reporting, student registration data, student scheduling, transcripts, etc… We then purchased stand alone programs for grade reporting, special education documents, connecting with families via email messaging, room scheduling and the like.
Last fall a representative group of teachers, administrators, parents and clerical staff (45 team members) reviewed presentations from three prominent student information systems. PowerSchool, DASL, and Infinite Campus. The stakeholders overwhelming chose to go with Infinite Campus.
By moving to Infinite Campus the goal was to have all student information in one place, accessible over the web, from anywhere and on any device. A student’s registration, family information, current grades, historical grades, assessment data, IEP, 504, and/or WEP would all be in one place. Teachers would post assignments on this system, upload documents for student use, and communicate with their classes through one singular system. Parents would be able to access all of their student’s information from the Worthington Cloud, or from the Infinite Campus App on their mobile device. This was an exciting prospect.
The challenge with this transition was that everyone in the organization would have to change the systems they work on and the trade-off to having one system is that everyone would probably give-up a function they liked from their old system. For instance, Infinite Campus’ grade book is functional, but does not have some of the features the eSembler did. Infinite Campus’ IEP software is clunkier than IEP Anywhere was. Infinite Campus’ use in the school office is 180 degrees different from how Management worked. And, while training has been provided, it is very hard to learn by doing, while also running as fast as you can. That’s the position our teachers and school office personnel are in. They’re trying to do a very difficult job while also learning to use a new system.
When we began this transition those that had been through it before us told us the transition would take a full year. Former Worthington Assistant Superintendent Mark Glasbrenner, who now works with multiple Infinite Campus districts in his work for Battelle for Kids, confirmed from experience, this sentiment. For the first few months it is very, very difficult. By the second semester it begins to make sense and by the second year staff learn to use the full functionality of the program.
This is a massive change. Often during the change process when you leave “A” but have not yet gotten to “B” it is disorienting and a person feels very vulnerable. On November 2nd this is where we are. It feels like I imagine a free fall would feel before the parachute opens.
What happens next: we’re not going back. We burned the bridges behind us and we can’t quit now. Left foot, right foot, until we get to the other side. It’s all we can do. But, we’re asking a whole lot of our staff. They are incredible, and right now, most probably believe this move to Infinite Campus was the wrong move or at least poorly planned. I don’t think that is the case, but we’re not yet where we’re going to be.
For families, we have not yet opened all areas. Access is still limited. Over the course of the school year we will open more and more functionality. For teachers and staff, I’m sorry. In some areas we added to the challenge by creating all new elementary report cards and putting out communication to staff that may not have been as clear as it should have been and thus caused some anxiety for some. For our computer services staff: “Thank You!” Your dedication, hard work and attention to detail have been invaluable. You’ve been outstanding and we will need you to continue to be.
Our goal in this transition was to put all student information in one location and to make it simple for parents to access. Right now we face many challenges in accomplishing this goal. My hope is that our staff will stay the course, continue to work towards proficiency in the program, and eventually we will see the benefits of an integrated system.
On November 6th there is no school for students. 12 of our schools serve as voting locations and with high voter turnout expected we made the decision that for the safety of students, this day would be a non-student day. It is a training day for staff. On this day we will talk with all staff regarding how new standards, formative instructional practices, student assessment, and the new teacher evaluation system work together. We will also discuss where we are in our transition to an integrated student system.
The bottom line with Infinite Campus: we’re not where we want to be. We’re not where we’re going to be. But, we’re getting a little closer everyday and eventually we will be better off as a school district. I think….