In My Shoes: The Student Information System Team

Posted on: Thu, 07/19/2018 - 09:00

Summer is one of the busiest times of year for many FCPS employees. That’s especially true for the small team that helps manage our student data.

Teachers, administrators, and school staff play highly visible and extremely critical roles in our school system. They are most often the ones out front working with families and helping to drive student achievement every day. They deserve all of the accolades they get for their exceptional work.

photo of SIS Team
SIS team from left: Patti McClain, Sue Palmer, Kari Holder,
Lisa Bostic, Tim Neal and Bob Staples

 

But we also need to take a moment to highlight and acknowledge the many people who work tirelessly behind the scenes and out of the public eye to support our teachers, schools, and students. I recently spent some time talking with and learning about one such group of unsung FCPS heroes – our Student Information System (or SIS) team. It is a team that truly makes me #FCPSProud.

Ms. Lisa Bostic manages the SIS team. They are a small group of just 6 people. They work on the third floor of our Central Office building as part of the larger department within FCPS – System Accountability & School Improvement – that oversees the huge volumes of data we collect and report out to help measure and improve the performance of our schools and support our students and teachers. They also play a key role in ensuring that FCPS meets federal and state data-reporting mandates.

Whenever a community member asks me about FCPS’s activities during the summer, I am always happy to share the almost dizzying list of projects and priorities FCPS employees tackle during these months. People often seem a bit shocked to have the myth of an FCPS summer vacation busted. But I have to admit that even I (someone who has a passion for data!) was a little surprised and more than a little impressed when I saw the number of tasks that the SIS team undertakes each summer (both to close out reporting from the previous school year and to prepare for data needs of the coming school year).

Just sorting through the most significant data tasks in the few days following the end of the school year on June 19 was enough to give me a sense of the scope and importance of the SIS team’s work.

Lisa shared an overview of almost a dozen discrete data-entry projects that the SIS team needed to accomplish in that week alone. Those tasks ranged from generating final school-year attendance data to entering and tracking student graduation and promotion data to verifying which schools rising middle and high school students would be transitioning to. The multiple steps involved in each individual task are highly specific, and each data set needs to be validated and verified (which is a process in itself!).

Each of those tasks alone is critical – our students, teachers, administrators, and families depend on each job being done quickly and accurately. And that is a snapshot of their work for just one week! Their tasks grow in number and complexity throughout the summer as they prepare to help our schools welcome our 43,000 students back into FCPS classrooms.

It is extremely impressive that one small team  – people who work behind the scenes to support so much of the work we do in FCPS – is responsible for so much. It is even more impressive that the team is appreciated throughout our school system for its timeliness and accuracy. It matters that FCPS administrators and teachers know that they can depend on the data they get from the SIS team.

I have a professional background in measurement and data. I am very comfortable working with complex data sets. And I understand both the potential – and limits – of data as tools for helping to boost student achievement. But getting to spend some time “in the shoes” of the SIS team renewed my deep appreciation for the talented and dedicated professionals who track and report the awesome things we accomplish as a school system. I thank Lisa and the SIS team for their work and for allowing me to shine a spotlight on these critical players behind the scenes.

Which unsung heroes of FCPS have made a difference for you or your children? Please share with me on Twitter @FCPSMDSuper. And if you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it on Facebook or Twitter.