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MIS Systems Thread, SIMS Assessment Manager 7 in Technical; I've been hired by a local school to set up tracker marksheets using AM7. I'm a novice having had just ...
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    SIMS Assessment Manager 7

    I've been hired by a local school to set up tracker marksheets using AM7. I'm a novice having had just one days training.

    As far as User Friendliness is concerned, it is by far the worst application I have ever used!

    I have 2 questions:

    1 I am in ther process of creating templates. I've defined result sets for each half term period in each year.
    eg. Y9 Au1

    I have defined Aspects for capturing the grades of each subject. eg. Eng Attainment. Having created a template for English Yr 9, I cloned it with a view of creating similar templates for the other subjects.

    However, it seems that I can amend each column and change the result set but I cannot amend the Aspect!

    Therefore each new template takes around a day to re-create.

    Should I have created oner Aspect and incorporated the subject in the result set eg. Y9 Au1 Eng? By doing so I could then amend each cloned Template in a short time.

    Or, can I run a SQL script against the database and simply change the name of the Aspect once I've cloned a new Template?

    If so, does anyone have an example script. A database schematic would also be handy.

    2 The school for which I'm working will shortly change its status and in theory become a new school. I've been told that we'll have to export data from the current school's database to the new school's using CTF.

    Surely it's possible to back up the current school's database, restore it onto the new school's server and simply run a SQL script to change the identity (DCSF) of the records!

    Any help would be gratefully received.

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    LosOjos's Avatar
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    Welcome to edugeek dhance! And more importantly, welcome to SIMS...

    First things first; you cannot access the SIMS SQL database directly. (or rather you can, but the chances of achieving anything by doing so are slim due to the 'complex' structure, and Capita do not like you doing this)

    1 day for a template is a hell of a long time, are you adding each column individually? When you add columns, you can tick multiple aspects at once and add them all at the same time.

    If you have a bit of programming/XML knowledge, you can programatically create templates: try exporting one and looking at the XML structure, if you understand it you'll be able to change it, if you don't then I don't recommend you try anyway if I'm honest.

    As for the move to a new school, I'm currently going through exactly the same process, and I'm afraid the SQL database merger is a no (yes, I think it's a pita too). You can export your student's CTFs, that will transfer all their basic details, contacts and national level assessment data (i.e. KS2, KS3 validated results), but you'll have to manually enter all their medical details and SEN details. If you're using the exams module, you'll also want to transfer their UCI numbers; again this is a manual task.

    Have a look at the MIS section of the forums, it was an absolute life saver for me when I started using SIMS just over a year ago, and feel free to ask questions, it's a great community here.

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    dhance (21st May 2010)

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    Hi LosOjos,

    I takes arfound 6 hours because a lot of columns include formulae.

    I realise that I can add multiple columns if the column is data entry but I can't see a way of selecting multiple aspects at once and adding them all at the same time if the column is a calculation using a formula.

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    Hi Again,

    I'm comfortable using XML and would like to have a go at programatically creating templates!

    However, I can't see how to export a template!! Where will I find this function?

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    LosOjos's Avatar
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    Formulas are a bit of a pain, I understand why it takes you a while now!

    To export a template, go to "Routines > Data Out > Assessment > Export".

    It's pretty self explanatory from there

    A word of caution though: formulas are not pretty in XML, I'd mess about with a couple of non-critical templates (or set one up specifically that contains examples of any formulae you might need) to start you off

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    Many many thanks - I wish I'd discovered this forum a few months ago . . . . . . .

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhance View Post
    Many many thanks - I wish I'd discovered this forum a few months ago . . . . . . .
    Can I assume that you have not joined Capita SupportNet? And have not contacted the SIMS Support team for your school?
    When a new school is formed then it is the DCSF (now the DfE) that restricts what can and what cannot be transferred. The data is 'owned' by the original school and the DCSF only allows the transfer of data that can be done via CTFs. See KB88079 and others on SupportNet.
    As for your comments re AM7. I think that this is a case of trying to run before you can walk. Yes it does take time to build up the system but that time will be well rewarded in the long run.
    I would urge that you join SupportNet where there are many experts in the use of SIMS - particularly on the Assessment Forum!
    http://support.capitaes.co.uk/newlogin/login.asp

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    Many thanks for your advice.

    I will indeed join SupportNet.

    I realise there's a lot to set up initiially and I appreciate that it will take time.

    However, the timescales would be reduced if find and replace and other accepted editting practices were available in SIMS.

    I'm sure that using XML imports will help considerably.

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    If you have access to the same data in the original schools then you can bulk export out all the Templates you require.
    Obviously you need the Aspects first.
    Then you can export out the results and the Reports!
    These should all import back in to the new system!

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    What about the Result Sets and Grade Sets?

    Will I be able to amend the Templates, Aspects etc. that I import from the current school's database?

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    I am unsure as to what happens to the Results and Grade sets. Maybe they are attached to the Aspects (Gradesets) and Results (Resultsets) when they are imported.
    I have never used these procedures even though I know that they exist.

    Yes you should be able to edit imported Aspects and Templates (within the context of which Results are actually attached). In any case you can easily Clone them and hence have your own versions!

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    dhance (21st May 2010)

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    When you export an assessment template to xml it takes the aspects, gradesets, resultsets associated with the template. If you read xml file you should have a resulset node, gradeset node, aspect node in addition to the template node.

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    dhance (24th May 2010)

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    i'm just going to throw some things out there to add to what has already been said.

    creating templates should be relatively quick. but formulas will make it tricky. you are doing it correctly, changing aspects is not possible, but you can change resultsets, and i've got a script that would let you do that quickly, but only blocks of the same type, i.e. data entry, data review. it wouldn't work for 1 column data entry followed by 1 column data entry by forumula followed by 1 column data review. It would work, just wouldn't save you any time!

    copy pasting formulas is not possible and still very difficult to repeat the same steps multiple times. We often export out to Excel for analysis.

    definitely don't include the subject in the resultset, it's right the way you've got it.

    as building templates is slow, if what you are doing allows, create large review templates that have multiple subjects that you can use for review. then clone it and delete out columns. It's much quick to delete columns from a template than add them, so if you know you will make a large review marksheet later, make it first, and then clone out parts of it. i used this trick at my last school and saved oodles of time.

    the xml thing is worth a go. i think dancer has some examples and more detailed help on the SupportNet forum.

    before you import a set of already created aspects etc. just do some validation and make sure the existing system works and will do everything you need it to do.
    the guy here who i took over from, imported lots of aspects and templates created from elsewhere and things worked fine for over a year, maybe two, along the way he added to the system extra aspects, and templates. when i got here and we started doing analysis i noticed that half the KS3 aspects were made with gradesets, and half were added as integer numbers (we use numbers at KS3!) so it looked the same, but only some of the aspects could be used in formulas! hopefully wont happen to you, but best to go over everything yourself and put in place a naming structure if one doesn't exist.

    also, it really helps to have everything, aspects, templates etc. have categories. especially once the number of marksheets per teacher goes over 20-30 and they get fed up of scrolling through all the time, even more of an issue for assessment operator and heads of dept. heads of year who see all marksheets they have within their year group / subject.

    I would see the change to a new clean database as a good thing. a fantastic opportunity to do some data cleansing and make sure you have really good data in the 'new' school. a nice fresh SIMS install and no ghosts in the machine.

    good luck with it all.

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    dhance (24th May 2010)

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    Can you confirm that I've understood correctly.

    I believe I can export an existing Template to an xml file and then edit the Aspect and Template data to quickly create new Templates.

    Assuming that my assumption is correct, do I have to ensure that Aspects, Gradesets etc. that are referenced have been set up or will the import add those too?

    In fact, how does SIMS manage dealing withTemplates, Aspects etc. that defined in the xml? Does it add themif they don't exist and update them if they do?

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    Dancer is your man for that, if you check his posts on supportnet you may get a better idea until he can reply here.

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