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MIS Systems Thread, Birmingham Schools - Where are you going next in Technical; The problem is that early in the thread are some statements that I, personally, refute. These statements need to be ...
  1. #61
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    The problem is that early in the thread are some statements that I, personally, refute. These statements need to be criticised (both +ve & -ve !!!) so that misunderstandings are cleared up. Moving these comments to different threads and/or closing that part of the discussion can still mean that any misconceptions about any MIS are not lreared up and can even be exacerbated!

    (Please note that I have tried to be diplomatic in this post - not one of my strong points!)
    Last edited by Sivadam; 13th July 2011 at 01:41 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beduffshirl View Post
    That is not really a viable solution as the process of copying, and pasting etc needs to be redone if a new child enters the class. It is also a very longwinded process for a Primary school to do, particularly as they will have to repeat it in many marksheets for different subjects and year groups/classes.
    Our tracking templates also take colour from calculated targets through hidden formula columns. This would not be possible with the suggested solution.
    Sorry but I responded to your original post where you said that the calculation of the formua would only be done ONCE. You have now changed the criteria of your original 'problem'. Suffice it to say that we all have to deal with new entrants etc. etc. and there are ways in SIMS, and presumably most other MIS systems, that allow you to do this!
    I do not dispute what other MIS solutins will do but I do dispute those that say SIMS cannot do something when I know that it can!

    Unfortunately due personal reasons, which cropped up in the past week, I have a great deal of work to do in the next 8 days and so I will not be able to spend as much time on this theme as I would like. Hence, if a I do not respond again it is not because I do not have an answer. I will pick up this thread again after 22nd July, if one wants to post further examples!
    Last edited by Sivadam; 13th July 2011 at 11:03 AM.

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    In the battle of AM7 versus Facility Assessment;

    The issues I've found

    In a secondary school it is possible to run out of space on the Sims template! (256 or so Aspects - most hidden) No limits with Facility
    Sims limits the number nested if then else statements - no limits on the number in Facility
    Facility and Sims can show Exam results in a 'marksheet' in Facility you can edit these, in Sims you can't
    Import FFT results directly into Sims

    There are a lot more, and I could do the reverse on what AM7 can do and what Facility can't - it's a case of personal choice, on the whole I tend to prefer AM7.

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    My issue is not what other MIS systems can or do, but what people are saying that SIMS cannot do. Different systems will obviously have advantages and disadavantages over other systems. I cannot comment on Facility's abilities apart from addressing the issue where others say that Facility can do it it but SIMS cannot!

    As for the limits on Spreadsheet size - is it really an issue when you can link Marksheets via the Formuae and/or Aspects?

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    Hello Edugeekers. Phil Neal, well known to many on this forum, has asked me to respond to some of the points raised on this thread. There are many interesting, and in my view balanced, comments about SIMS vs. Facility for assessment. As you would expect, we are bound to think that the SIMS assessment solution delivers more. That said, comments in here do help us reflect on what the Assessment solution we produce offers and ask ourselves if it could do more. Clearly, whilst schools are about many things, in my view they are principally involved in assessment and using this data to drive standards and inform learning through intervention, target setting, class grouping, whatever. We believe that the SIMS solution - that comprises Assessment, Analysis and now includes Discover offers the most comprehensive set of tools to help schools manage their assessment recording, analysis and reporting.

    But..... they can always be improved. and it seems we could learn some things from and should perhaps comment on the postings in this thread, which I think can be categorised as follows:

    1. SIMS Assessment cannot meet the complex assessment tracking system we use, but XYZ software can.

    If this is true at all then I don't believe it holds for very many schools. The vast majority do this by using assessment tracking and target setting approaches that are rooted in use of prior attainment data from which targets are set and then regular recording of attainment occurs against the target. This latter check gives a suggestion of the progress of the child against a meaningful benchmark. There are many many ways in which schools all decide to 'skin this cat', but I have really yet to see one that cannot be managed in SIMS Assessment, but can be managed in a competitor MIS. Some schools use super-complex approaches in Excel which, frankly, would be difficult to mirror in any other software as they make use of obscure excel formulae - something I comment on in point 3 below

    2. SIMS Assessment is too complex to set-up, not flexible enough and too hard to use.

    On set up, I think @Sivadam has the essence of what I would like to say here already written in one of his previous posts. That is, there is some short term effort required to create your assessment system in SIMS, but there is long term payoff if you think about it before jumping in, and, once built the system can run and run - as it does in many schools I visit. Setting up SIMS Aspects is few peoples favourite task, but by building them with some validation rules around them (Gradesets, Mark ranges etc) the potential for incorrect data entry by teachers is greatly removed and the ability to perform accurate analyses is massively enhanced. Many primary schools are provided with templates containing Aspects, formulae, analyses grids etc by their LA, so they have little or no work to do in setting up assessment tracking systems. We can improve this area and are looking at set-up Wizards and 'bulk create' tools for example.

    The flexibility point is an interesting one. Assessment Manger starts like Microsoft Word - a blank page. You can create what you want and record data however you like, the ultimate in flexibility. Comprehensive system utilities allow for bulk manipulation of the data when it has been entered. However, some of the comments above are valid. It is true that you cannot have more than 256 columns (time to do a better design!) and the number of If, Then, Else statements is limited. I'm aware of some schools who see this as a limitation, but not many. We'll take a look at that.

    Ease of use is, I think, related closely to the set-up and flexibility issue. We have recognised that for some time it has been a lot easier to get data into SIMS that extract and analyse it. This was one of the driving themes behind SIMS Discover. The release of Discover has given school managers (and teachers) a tool with which analysis and asking questions of data is straightforward. I have seen teachers with no knowledge of SIMS data interrogate SIMS and look for patterns and stories in the data. We hope and expect that in the future for assessment, most teachers will involve themselves with the SIMS Marksheet and the Discover tool, both of which are reasonably easy and intuitive to use. Clearly, there will always be an assessment or curriculum coordinator behind the scenes who does the set-up and, as I mentioned above, we need to look at how we make their job as easy as possible.

    3. With SIMS Assessment I have to do most of my data analysis in Excel

    SIMS Assessment is not trying to compete with Excel. Right from the start we designed Assessment to be tightly integrated with Excel - through either the 'one click' export of a marksheet, to the two import from excel routines that allow matched and un-matched data to be imported easily. There are probably hundreds of formulae in Excel and some assessment and data people want to use them, so we make it easy if you do any data crunching in Excel to get the data out and back into SIMS. All that said, I don't believe that the vast majority of schools NEED to use excel for the main purposes of assessment data management and analysis although I do accept that there will be boundary cases in some schools where they want to run a particular calculation or formulae that SIMS assessment doesn't offer.

    There are pros and cons to each system, with, in my opinion more pros on the SIMS side. But, rather than create a 'points scoring' list of where I think SIMS scores over Facility (and other systems) I have focussed on some of the general points that are raised in this (now very long) thread about SIMS assessment which I hope help the debate. I have tried to give you as honest an appraisal as possible rather than tell you SIMS is the best and you should forget the rest. You wouldn't believe me anyway.

    If some of you have not taken a look at SIMS Assessment (or even other parts of SIMS) for a long time then please arrange to do so - as Phil mentions above we have an upcoming event in Birmingham, which we are holding on the morning of Tues 20th September specifically for primary schools. The session is aimed at those schools who are interested in evaluating SIMS as an MIS option and will be held at the Clarendon Suites. It will coincide with our regular user group for the 50+ primary schools already using SIMS in Birmingham; this will give schools the opportunity to meet and network with SIMS users to gain an understanding of how they use SIMS to successfully support school strategy. Birmingham primary schools also told us they keen to explore Assessment and FMS in more detail so, in addition to the morning session, we are holding two specialised sessions on the afternoon of Tues 20th September which will focus on these areas. Both existing SIMS users and non-SIMS users are welcome to stay for these sessions should they want to find out more.

    Thanks for reading this far - I expect my next post to be a lot shorter!

  6. 3 Thanks to Graham_Cooper:

    NickBryson (14th July 2011), NorthernSands (15th July 2011), Sivadam (14th July 2011)

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    going through that costly excercise, would welcome a chat

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    Lisa who did you want to chat to?

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    Quote Originally Posted by LisaJMarks View Post
    going through that costly excercise, would welcome a chat
    Lisa - I can help you from a Link2ICT perspective. Have you been to any of our MIS events. Happy to come and visit you.

    Mark

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