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MIS Systems Thread, SISRA Online in Technical; I think this might cause a few new members to appear (like Uniservity), hopefully it won't be as bad. If ...
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    matt40k's Avatar
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    SISRA Online

    I think this might cause a few new members to appear (like Uniservity), hopefully it won't be as bad. If you could try to keep it on topic

    Right, just been told about SISRA Online - SISRA ONLINE : WEB BASED EXAM RESULTS ANALYSIS : HOME, I've been told it's rather expensive (I have no idea, I haven't seen costs) and that there sales people are working there way across the county trying to flog there wares.

    Personal opinion is, why is only hosted? And can't SIMS already do all that without the hassle of sending your sensitive data to a 3rd party?

    (Side note: OMG they run on Gradwell)

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    SISRA is rather good actually! In terms of price for what it is, it's very reasonable - i can't remember what we're paying but it's certainly worth it compared to comparable software, namely a custom-written piece of software or a mid+ range statistical package plus someone who can work it effectively...

    It produces a good range of reports and analyses on exam results (or targets or predictions), handles residuals well, shows results broken down by teaching group, etc and works well with the kind of data most schools produce for exam results. In other words, it can handle the appalling non-normalised spreadsheets with silly column headings that most schools, and software like sims, tend to produce!

    Our exam officer, who is neither a statistician nor a developer, has learnt to use it and has made a very full and effective set of analyses that i would be happy to show an ofsted inspector! All this, and we can make as many read-only logins as we want to allow our subject leaders to see their own reports without any help. Get it. Seriously!

    SIMS really cannot do what this can, and it's going to save me a lot of work.

  3. 3 Thanks to MattMitchell:

    Gatt (15th July 2009), matt40k (1st July 2009), SISRAOnline (8th July 2009)

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    matt40k's Avatar
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    Thanks MattMitchell, might ask them to show us some reports then try replicating them in SIMS, so far nothing I've seen can't be done in SIMS. Anything you know of that can't be?

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    Actually quite a few things can't be done in sims - plot a chance graph of attendance against performance, calculate capped points score against anything outside of the exams module, calculate CPS in general., calculate residuals without opening a multiple sequence of marksheets to perform calculations, do anything in assessment analysis plotted against any non-assessment fields...

    There is a lot that sims CAN do though, and most of the time people slating sims just don't know what it can do/how to do it. Data analysis in schools seems to be a relatively new field, and some of the stuff we're implementing here like estimated CVA scores is beyond the scope of what most people are working at, so in some senses i probably have a skewed opinion of sims's capabilities.

    That said, the vast majority, if not all, of the things being done in our school in excel at present, can be done easily in sims and i am looking to have everyone enter all their data directly into sims and nowhere else.
    Last edited by MattMitchell; 2nd July 2009 at 07:02 PM. Reason: Predictive text typos

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    Yes it does seems stupid when people insit on there lovely excel spreadsheet. Don't get me wrong, I've seen some good ones in my time, but lets have the raw data in SIMS first.

    Just a bit worrying sending your data off to a 3rd party who has a [shared] shell hosting account. How does it export the data and sends it? Is it a single .exe file? Do you need to have the SIMS Application installed for it work? It's just a don't seen them as a business partner or a SQL partner.

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    Yikes @ shared hosting site... It was already being used before I started, but thanks for the heads-up: I'll look into that. Ironically, our LA has recommended it to me as well, although as I said we're already using it.

    As far as data transfer goes, it just takes a csv file as input, with student names, class codes, socioeconomic factors like FSM, etc, and then a series of columns for exam names. You set which subjects are which types of exam (GCSE, BTEC 1st Cert, etc) and also can indicate maths, English and science (for those pesky National Challenge headline figures, etc.)

    It will work with anything, not just SIMS, and does not interface directly with your software or site in any way, shape or form. You just upload data to the webpage.

    It calculates capped points score, grade residuals per subject (and will factor in the national averages too in order to get a more useful statistic), and can do most analyses I can think of (off the top of my head) that you would, or could, do provided with the student basic info and the exam results.

    The security aspect does concern me somewhat, and I shall get in contact with them. If there is that risk there, then I shall provide our exams officer with a replacement set of no-names: just a (non-identifiable) set of unique IDs to use and something like "John/Jane Doe" for the student names. This will remove any data protection concerns, and yet still provide the analyses. I think I might have a chat with our LA team as well... I'll post back here once I've had a proper look!

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    Hi Matt & Matt,

    just thought I should provide some clarity here with regards to our hosting before it snowballs!
    We use gradwell for our email and nothing else.
    All web traffic comes to the web servers here at our offices (in sunny Birkenhead). All hosting of school data is done by us!

    Thanks to Matt Mitchell for the kind words though. One of the huge benefits of our system is that each school pays for a site/school license (I won't discuss costs here but it is the same for all schools), meaning each school is free to add as many users as they wish onto their SISRA system. Some of our schools have 100+ users, all with the ability to analyse exams, mocks, assessments and targets from anywhere with internet access (not just from within the school). Users don't have to develop and build reports. Administrators simply upload data and prepare it. Then publish reports. Job done. All reports, (tables, charts etc), which a fully interactive and filterable, are then available to all users.

    With regards to sales, we don't really use 'salesmen' as such. Our support/technical staff provide online demonstrations to interested parties. Also, many of our member schools allow us to host a Roadshow event at their school so that any interested local schools can come and meet us and view a demo.

    The Roadshow demos are (more often than not) carried out by a nice chap called Michael Surtees. Michael is Deputy Head at Madeley High school in Staffordshire and he gives up his time to talk to schools about SISRA because, and I quote "It saves me so much time during the year that I want to tell everyone about it".

    We don't use pressure salesmen. You either want it or you don't. Admittedly most schools that see it are interested and I'd put that down to the fact that we have always listened to schools' requirements and will continue to do so, updating and enhancing the service as we are asked for more functionality etc - with all enhancements provided free to existing customers of course!

    Anyhow, again thanks to Mr Matt Mitchell for the kind words. It would be good to see you on the SISRA Forum at some point Matt! Only accessible from within the SISRA members area, but a good place for you to talk to us about how we could make our service even better for your school!

    Cheers

    Jon Williams
    Head of Development
    Last edited by SISRAOnline; 7th July 2009 at 05:21 PM. Reason: typos galore! lol...

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    Quote Originally Posted by MattMitchell View Post
    As far as data transfer goes, it just takes a csv file as input, with student names, class codes, socioeconomic factors like FSM, etc, and then a series of columns for exam names.
    Is the file upload via a secure connection (HTTPS/FTPS etc.)?

    Quote Originally Posted by MattMitchell View Post
    Yikes @ shared hosting site... It was already being used before I started, but thanks for the heads-up: I'll look into that. Ironically, our LA has recommended it to me as well, although as I said we're already using it.
    Does your school/LA have some kind of Use of Data Agreement in place with the company?

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    Quote Originally Posted by John_Howarth View Post
    Is the file upload via a secure connection (HTTPS/FTPS etc.)?

    Yes, HTTPS.

    Quote Originally Posted by John_Howarth View Post
    Does your school/LA have some kind of Use of Data Agreement in place with the company?
    We are registered with the ICO and recommend all our schools add us to their Fair Processing Notice.

  11. Thanks to SISRAOnline from:

    John_Howarth (10th July 2009)

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    Quote Originally Posted by SISRAOnline View Post
    Yes, HTTPS.



    We are registered with the ICO and recommend all our schools add us to their Fair Processing Notice.
    How do you extract the data from SIMS ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tonyoung View Post
    How do you extract the data from SIMS ?
    We don't extract data from SIMS.
    We don't interface directly with schools MIS.
    Schools upload their data into SISRA as CSV files via https.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SISRAOnline View Post
    We don't extract data from SIMS.
    We don't interface directly with schools MIS.
    Schools upload their data into SISRA as CSV files via https.
    in that case you may wish to amend the FAQs on your website ?

    Q. DO WE HAVE TO MANUALLY INPUT OUR STUDENT DATA ONTO YOUR SYSTEM?
    A. No. We donít believe in forcing you to duplicate work. You already have all the data we need within your school computer systems and so we arrange extraction of your student data from your CMIS or SIMS system.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tonyoung View Post
    in that case you may wish to amend the FAQs on your website ?

    Q. DO WE HAVE TO MANUALLY INPUT OUR STUDENT DATA ONTO YOUR SYSTEM?
    A. No. We don’t believe in forcing you to duplicate work. You already have all the data we need within your school computer systems and so we arrange extraction of your student data from your CMIS or SIMS system.
    No I think that's fine Tony.

    The question is 'DO WE MANUALLY INPUT OUR STUDENT DATA ONTO YOUR SYSTEM?'
    The Answer is No. You upload it. You also don't MANUALLY create the CSV files, the data can be pulled out of SIMS/CMIS/Phoenix etc. (we tell you what you need, StudentID, Name, Ethicity etc) into excel and then uploaded into SISRA.

    Just to clarify, SISRA is marketed to users such as exams officers and the like. Not neccessarily techies. So what a techie considers manual is very often different from what an exams officer would consider manual. In this context, manual means "Manually type each and every piece of student data into SISRA". If you showed that FAQ to any of our SISRA Administrators in any of the 75 LAs that we have a presence in then I'm confident they would agree that it is not misleading in any way.
    Last edited by SISRAOnline; 8th July 2009 at 07:15 PM. Reason: more typos!

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    Quote Originally Posted by SISRAOnline View Post
    The question is 'DO WE MANUALLY INPUT OUR STUDENT DATA ONTO YOUR SYSTEM?'
    The Answer is No. You upload it. You also don't MANUALLY create the CSV files, the data can be pulled out of SIMS/CMIS/Phoenix etc. (we tell you what you need, StudentID, Name, Ethicity etc) into excel and then uploaded into SISRA.
    I think it might be worth amending the answer a little, to explain that it's easy to upload the data from an Excel spreadsheet - that seems to be the benchmark for "achievable" for non-techie teachers, and I know that our non-DBA exams officer found uploading to SISRA simple, in fact far simpler than I find getting data into SIMS as a developer (SQL, C, C++, Perl, PHP, a little PL-SQL, etc).

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    Quote Originally Posted by MattMitchell View Post
    I think it might be worth amending the answer a little, to explain that it's easy to upload the data from an Excel spreadsheet - that seems to be the benchmark for "achievable" for non-techie teachers, and I know that our non-DBA exams officer found uploading to SISRA simple, in fact far simpler than I find getting data into SIMS as a developer (SQL, C, C++, Perl, PHP, a little PL-SQL, etc).
    FAQ now changed accordingly. As I said earlier, we always listen to our customers
    (no offence Tony, lol!)



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