Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

SASIxp: This SIS Has Personality

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

SASIxp: This SIS Has Personality

Article excerpt

Key to better educational experiences is better managed schools. Key to better management is more and better data, to inform decision-makers. Technology tools such as relational databases will give school personnel that data. Benefits range from cutting costs, to improving services and boosting morale.

SIS packages, short for Student Information System, are a class of specialized databases designed just for K-12 schools.

And MACRO Educational Systems has been a leading developer, offering its SASI line (Schools Administrative Student Information). In 1982, they created the first site-based, PC SIS and query system. They integrated student pictures in 1988, built in integration from districts to sites in 1991, and added an integral classroom component in 1992.

* State-of-the-Art

SASIxp is their latest generation, now cross-platform and seamless, with an even more graphical user interface. It's a series of modules, with basic applications and optional add-ons.

The "xp" is for cross platform. Any number of users - on Windows PCs, Macs or PowerPC machines - can simultaneously access and update a single SASI database. Functionality is maintained across all platforms as the same "engine" generates native code for Macintosh, Windows and Windows 95.

Basic Applications is the core module. It holds detailed data on students, classes, teachers and master schedules. Included are demographics, discipline, emergency, health and immunization, parent/guardian and sibling data.

* A Total Environment

SASIxp supplies users with a total environment; except for a top or bottom menu bar, it creates a whole desktop. Down the left side, one defines their own menu bar - at will - via drag and drop. Other packages, like a statistical program or word processor, can be placed on a SASI desktop for immediate access and data interchange.

Switching among any screen or displaying multiple screens from any SASI module is simple and quick. Screens are stacked off-set, like index cards. And each screen's data or format is easily customized on the fly.

Distinguishing SASIxp is its unique Query system. Staff and teachers visually build reports by drag and drop of data fields onto a Query box. Wildcards, Boolean operators and more are supported. Any field, or combination of fields, is searchable. Multiple SIS databases can be dynamically linked and successful Query statements saved for re-use.

Data may be viewed, printed and sorted myriad ways. All tables, for example, are defined and changed in one screen. For ease of use or security, pre-set filters ensure that certain users can see or output only the selected data they need. For similar reasons, Export can be defined to default to any program so that exports are automatically saved in, for example, Lotus 1-2-3 format.

Flexibility is another priority. Users simply drag and drop a field onto an icon ("atoms") to launch other applications. New "atoms" may be created by users and shared. One can also use pull-down menus, user-defined hot keys and icons to perform actions. A variety of ways are provided to get the job done.

* Details on the Functions

Starting with student enrollment, integrated features speed and streamline basic tasks. Staff use a checklist and Quick Access links to enter data on each of the required forms. Minimal data is needed to enroll, with additional details able to be added later.

Attendance is also automated. Office staff click on a date and a reason to log absences, or import them from a class list. With SASI Classroom, teachers can deliver attendance data from their desktop. A Period Attendance module tracks absences and tardies by course as well as period.

Scheduling is usually a time-consuming chore with dramatic ramifications. The scheduling component in SASIxp automatically schedules classes with an algorithm placing 1,000 students per minute. …

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