MIS Systems Thread, End of Year reports - software? in Technical; I am just wondering how everyone does their reports? I do ours using Assessment Manager in SIMS. On the surface, ...
2nd July 2012, 10:09 AM #1
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End of Year reports - software?
I am just wondering how everyone does their reports? I do ours using Assessment Manager in SIMS. On the surface, this is fine, it can collect the data and produce a nicely formatted report. However, the staff don't have access to SIMS, so I export marksheets which they complete and return to me, and then we go through a number of rounds of proofreading. It is really cumbersome to enter the corrections within SIMS, and if I correct the spreadsheets, I end up with multiple versions of everything and a complete version control mess. This is probably due to my organisational skills, but it's becoming a problem. I'm also the only person who can use Assessment Manager, so if I go off sick their is noone else who can use the system.
Anyway - the point of all this, is I am thinking we need a better way. I would really like something online, so anyone can enter their reports/proofread/edit from school or at home.
Does anyone know of any systems before I start googling?
2nd July 2012, 10:16 AM #2
Well you already have the right system. Why don't your staff have access to SIMS.
Give them that and it will solve your problems.
The proof reading isn't great, but i have many reports that will generate proof reading copies. For an online way, you'd need to use profiles, but that's a bit complex to set up, and people always seem to have problems with it, but that is designed to do exactly what you want. However, again, staff need access to it.
2nd July 2012, 10:42 AM #3
Have to agree with Vik, we gave all staff access to SIMS about 6 years ago and it got rid of the problem with different versions of the spreadsheets immediately. We are resigned to having at least 3 copies of the comments printed before the final version is produced for parents but it is difficult to read or proof read on screen. I set up various 'corrections' mark sheets to help with that side of things and it works well enough. I did investigate using profiles but as we use completely free text for our comments I decided that it was far too comples for staff to use.
Originally Posted by vikpaw
2nd July 2012, 10:42 AM #4
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Our staff have never had access to SIMS. The school secretary, the deputy head, and myself (ICT Technician and general data dogsbody) are the only ones. It's not something the staff have ever needed, and they charge £200 per logon so it's never been encouraged.
I can print out reports for proofreading, the problem lies in entering the corrections. I have a stack of reports on my desk with corrections on, but it takes me hours to do them. I've got a marksheet with every comment on it for each child, but it takes ages to open/save each marksheet. I just find the system completely unwieldy.
We also have issues with ' and - turning in to question marks when the marksheets are imported/exported. I spend many hours looking for question marks, and I can't simply do it in Excel with a search and replace, as they turn back into question marks when they are reimported.
And also comments over 1000 characters long get cut off.
2nd July 2012, 10:43 AM #5
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Can you staff access SIMS from home, or do they write their reports at school?
2nd July 2012, 10:45 AM #6
As above you already have the solution, adding another system on top is just going to cause more issues. Just use the software you already have or swap mis to something less horrifically priced. EDIT: you can use something like remoteapp in server 2008 to offer windows apps over the internet.
Last edited by SYNACK; 2nd July 2012 at 10:47 AM.
2nd July 2012, 10:54 AM #7
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So, assuming SIMS isn't available to staff (since it isn't, and won't be)
Are there any alternatives? Just telling me to use SIMs isn't helpful, because we do that now and it doesn't work very well.
2nd July 2012, 10:56 AM #8
Why £200 per account? Im just curious?
2nd July 2012, 11:10 AM #9
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Sims is provided by the LEA on a Citrix device, and logon's to Citrix are charged at £200, I have no idea why.
We all use dedicated machines for access to Citrix, so I actually have 3 machines connected to my monitor/keyboard, Citrix, Server, and a PC. It's not exactly a seamless solution!
The other problem is that you can't put a memory stick into the Citrix machine, so all data has to be emailed back and forth to the machine with SIMs on it. Staff submit spreadsheets via a shared folder on the server, then I email them to the citrix machine, download them onto that machine, and upload them to SIMs. At some point in that process I lose all my apostrophes and they turn into question marks!
As I was typing this, the head just appeared, so I mentioned getting all staff onto SIMS and he basically said no, it will never happen.
2nd July 2012, 11:12 AM #10
The thing is @Bev, you're not using SIMS to it's full potential. We're not trying to brush you off. Seriously, it shouldn't cost you extra to give the staff access. Worst case, each concurrent login may cost an extra £5 for a one-off licencing fee, but that depends on how your server is set up.
Giving staff access, even if it's only on a fixed bank of machines in the staff room, will seriously alleviate at least some of the problems and put the onus, e.g. character limit, question marks etc back on the staff.
There are not really any other systems out there that will do what you want without extra cost, well, not pretty ones anyway.
There are systems that link to SIMS such as PARS and TeachersWebFolder from Tasc / Bromcom, which are relatively cheap, maybe a few thou per year, that will give your staff access to SIMS from a web interface including from home, but it's still giving them access to SIMS. It's a nicer interface though and can be used for many other things such as taking attendance and looking at student info.
The proof reading issue will remain, but at least if they put the info in, you cut out a few problems with import / export, and if they can control data entry, they can proof read and make their own changes.
There are other report writing systems, some free, some at a charge, but you'll be having to sync data out of SIMS to provide class lists, and setting up all the various fields you want. Then generating them all in a separate system, with no guarantee the mechanism will be any better, somebody still has to proof read and make corrections. At the end once the report is made, you'll have no easy way to link it back to the server and keep it on file with the student records.
If you are going to give your staff access to some report writing software, it may as well be SIMS, either directly or via a third-party. That's my opinion.
Instead of googling for other solutions, try searching this MIS forum, as a few other systems have been mentioned in the past, along with the issues people have had, so you may get a heads up from those.
2nd July 2012, 11:17 AM #11
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It's not on our server, I think that's the problem. It's on the LEAs server.
2nd July 2012, 11:19 AM #12
Personally i would move it in house. You can use it to its full potential and save a few quid.
2nd July 2012, 11:25 AM #13
wow! That's a layer of complexity i didn't expect.
Originally Posted by Bev
I'd have words with the LA, there have to be better ways of giving access. They cannot expect you to buy a citrix box for each user.
2nd July 2012, 11:26 AM #14
Sims assessment manager.
Remote desktop for staff to do it from home.
TASC insight for parents to read the reports online.
2nd July 2012, 11:32 AM #15
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You see my problem!
Exporting classlists once, and importing completed and signed off reports seems much easier.
I had better go and do some work on the corrections, rather than whining on here, but thanks for your comments, it has been interesting.
I am the sole ICT Technician/Data Technician in a middle school (which adds another layer of complexity, neither a Primary or Secondary solution fits neatly). There is a limit to how much I can change singlehandedly. I would have support for a system that solved the he/she problem and substituted names correctly as staff hate those issues. And they would absolutely have to be able to work at home, as many of them have to do 20+ sets and they don't have the time to do them at school.
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