West Windsor Plainsboro Regional School District (WW P), in Princeton Junction, N.J., wanted to eliminate duplicate data entry, improve parent and teacher communication, and have access to reporting tools to make informed decisions. Infinite Campus® had everything WWP needed to meet their current needs as well as being a company with a vision for the future.
WWP had been working with SASI for nine years and the segregated, decentralized system was creating data inaccuracies and staff inefficiencies. “For years we were 10 separate schools with 10 independent databases. We had no centralized data and each school processed information differently,” said Rick Cave, WWP Director of Technology. “Without uniform data entry, we faced problems pulling reliable information for reports, tracking student information and communicating effectively.” In addition, Infinite Campus integration and Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF) compliance allows WWP to have more control over their data. “We used to spend two weeks every year verifying the data between our old student information system (SIS) and our transportation software,” said Cave. “Parents would sometimes contact the transportation office for an address change and it would not be shared with the district office. Now, Infinite Campus is our primary source of information and transportation gets updates only from Infinite Campus. It is a much more reliable system.”
At WWP teachers are required to use the Campus Grade Book, which is directly tied to the Campus Portal. There are immediate benefits to this integration. Parents check the portal frequently to stay informed while students have access to their grades and assignments in real time, allowing both parents and students to monitor progress. When WWP decided to expand access to grades through the portal, it was a major shift in school culture. To ensure its success, WWP held a series of meetings with a committee of so students, staff and parents to give everyone a voice in the decision making process. At the conclusion of the meetings, procedures were in place. Teachers post their grades within two weeks of assessment. Students are given independent access to their grades through their school accounts. Parents are provided direct access to grades. “Our kids are highly motivated to achieve, so being able to monitor their grades on a regular basis is a real plus,” says Cave. “Students loved the idea and were strong advocates for this process.”
WW-P selected a vendor based on performance, not bargains. The district wanted to serve its students, staff and parents by pro- viding an SIS that met and even surpassed its immediate needs. The district recognized that there is real value in efficient performance and that cost savings are not worth sacrificing student success. WW-P chose Infinite Campus for the quality and flexibility of its system, as well as the strength and vision of the company. “We do not look at Infinite Campus in terms of cost savings, but focus on the features that allow us to do things we would not be able to implement with other systems,” says Cave. “We feel that our school community – students, parents and staff – needs tools to support instruction. Infinite Campus provides those tools. The cost of Infinite Campus is not justified by what we are saving, but by what it does for our district.” Infinite Campus has reduced printing and mailing costs for WW-P. Besides online access to school news, grades, and assignments, parents and students can access paperless report cards. Through the custom reporting capability of Infinite Campus, grade book data is available for online report cards as well as district and state reports, saving valuable staff time.
At first, WW-P used Infinite Campus at a basic level. As awareness of the range of features and functionality grew, the district began to use additional functionality provided by the SIS. “The best part of Infinite Campus is that every time we have wanted to add some function, we have been able to,” said Cave. “As our knowledge expanded, we have been able to take advantage of more features and expect that this trend will continue.” WW-P’s state and district reporting is now more efficient and is based on reliable data entered with uniform procedures district- wide. Demographic information is accurate with household-based data tracking. Reporting errors are reduced and report preparation time is minimized. Administrative decisions are made with confidence. “Adding user-created documents to a student’s record is a gold mine for us,” said Cave. “The fact that you can upload PDF’s and Word documents under special education and guidance is great.” WWP is accumulating all special education and school related information and keeping it in one place within Infinite Campus. It greatly improves their business practice. With Campus Grade Book, teachers are able to integrate lesson plans, assignments, assessments, schedules and grade data. They can correlate lesson plans with standards-based rubrics. The efficiency of these features permits teachers to spend more time where they belong, with students. “Infinite Campus is powerful and deep,” says Cave. “We chose it because we wanted a product that would work for us today and grow with us for the future. So far, it has not failed us.”