The Problem - More Time Spent With Spreadsheets Than Students
San Antonio Independent School District serves 47,000 students across more than 90 schools in a culturally proud, urban community. With over 88% of their students economically disadvantaged , San Antonio ISD has a very real challenge for creating positive outcomes after graduation. Dr. Eduardo Sesatty, Director of Postsecondary Initiatives at SAISD, knew that the massive amounts of data processing he and his staff were doing was not going to help his students succeed. The amount of time being spent on downloading and sorting through spreadsheets drastically took away from their time with students.
Even though they had a college and career readiness platform, staff were still spending more time on data analysis than student analysis, “It was just a massive amount of data processing that a counselor, an advisor, should not be doing,'' said Dr. Sesatty.
With a goal of 70% of graduates attending college by 2025, and a college and career readiness platform contract nearing expiration, they began to evaluate their options. As Dr. Sesatty put it, the right way to tackle this and find the best tool to support his district was “by asking ‘Does the tool fit our ambitions?’ not just ‘Do we have this tool?”
The Process - Measure What We Treasure
San Antonio ISD began a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) process for college and career readiness platforms, to evaluate options and make sure they weren’t missing out on any potential to reduce the tedious data management tasks. The district decided that - along with being easy and engaging for students and staff to use - they needed a solution that could:
- Analyze key district indicators to help staff intervene at the right time to create positive student outcomes
- Easily see aggregate & a drill down of student activities
- Centralize all things college and career in a single tool to reduce trainings and increase adoption district-wide
As Dr. Sesatty put it, “What we measure we treasure, so we should be able to know ‘these are the things that I need to be able to watch on a daily basis. Is the tool watching them? Is it helping me watch them? Maybe making it easier for me to watch them?”
This meant monitoring the inputs (FAFSA workshops, student college exploration, college fairs, etc.) that mattered to their outputs (more students applying to and attending college after graduation). This also meant having the right tools to not just ‘measure’ those indicators, but to have access and ability to do something with the data efficiently and meaningfully.
After vetting multiple vendors, including asking for student input, SAISD ultimately chose SchooLinks for its combination of ease-of-use and powerful reporting and analytics.
The Result- Accessible, Actionable Data & More Time Spent With Students
SAISD implemented SchooLinks right after the COVID-19 pandemic hit. While adopting a new software at that time was a challenge, everyone knew it was worth it. "Because we went after it for the right reasons...it didn't feel burdensome for staff.”, Dr. Sesatty said
Their implementation plan was straightforward. They focused on key users like College Bound Advisors, High School Counselors and Middle School Counselors. The district created their own onboarding videos in the context of SAISD that complemented SchooLinks’ support - something that was a breath of fresh air compared to that of past experience with a CCR platform support.
"We were not used to having a partner that was really a partner; that could listen to what we were trying to say and do something about it.”
After adopting and implementing SchooLinks’ platform, the district staff started to see the ease of use, which was a big factor in the change. For example, being able to quickly go from an aggregate percentage to a list of students who have not completed FAFSA, and then messaging them with a single click was now possible. SchooLinks allowed them to focus on the important inputs, and monitor the meaningful outputs.
To Dr. Sesatty, counselors and advisors are the ‘man in the arena’ - they are the ones working with the students, making sure they are set for success. He and his district level staff are on the sidelines, making sure they have the right tools, support and resources to do their challenging and paramount jobs. For him and SAISD, SchooLinks is the tool he trusts to equip his staff, to ensure they support every student and their college going goals.
Leveraging data to support your district’s college and career readiness goals is simple. See for yourself with a personalized demo of SchooLinks' modern platform and let us know how we can help you meet your school district's goals.