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SIS Conversion Guidance

If you're thinking of switching student information systems (SIS) or will soon implement a new SIS that you recently purchased, read the following guidance.

Thinking About Switching Your SIS?

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) selected the Ed-Fi API because it allows schools to work with whichever SIS they want and still translate their data into WISEdata for state reporting. By state law, the SIS schools choose must also comply with Wisconsin's interoperability technology standards. Because Ed-Fi is such a flexible API, schools have the freedom to choose any certified SIS vendor they like, but DPI wants to help schools make the most informed decision possible.

It's important to note that converting from one SIS to another for your state reporting needs will require planning and effort to ensure a smooth transition. This process is also true when adding a secondary SIS, such as a special education system like SEEDS or OASYS. With that in mind, DPI would like to provide you with questions to ask and limitations to consider prior to converting your SIS (or adding a secondary reporting SIS).

Conversion Time

Most conversions take place in the summer and occur when the DPI calendar year switches over from one school year to the next, i.e., a school turns off SIS A reporting June 30 and turns on reporting in SIS B on July 1. In an ideal conversion, the new SIS B would migrate in all prior year data from SIS A, at which point the school could shut off SIS A reporting entirely because you cannot send the same data from two systems at the same time. The issue with this is that right now no certified SIS vendors have made the option to migrate all student data from the prior year; at this point the migration of prior year data mainly consists of the data that would display on a student transcript. This would leave a substantial gap of reported data come the fall/winter snapshot (Dec. 4, 2018) if SIS B only had a portion of the data from the prior school year.

SIS Overlap

DPI recommends converting when the calendar year switches but keeping SIS A open until after the fall/winter snapshot is taken. This means both SIS A and SIS B would be active for an overlapping period of time between July 1 and the December snapshot date. DPI especially recommends having SIS crossover when merging schools/districts to ensure no data is lost and that the data submission transition runs smoothly. Having two systems active simultaneously will be an extra expense to factor, but it will make certain no data is lost in the conversion. We strongly recommend that at least three school years’ worth of data be available for you to change and edit. This amount of time is minimally needed for dropout calculations.

If the cost of having two systems open for a half year is too expensive, schools could consider turning off SIS A as soon as the count data is in for the Third Friday of September. This would mean that ALL necessary changes, including modification of Exit Types, error resolution, and data quality checks would have to be complete before turning off SIS A and moving exclusively to SIS B. It is possible, but it is more of a risk.

SIS Contract Negotiations

A suggested alternative could be that when negotiating with a potential SIS vendor, schools require the SIS to create a tool that would allow schools to enter and edit prior year records manually. Schools could also require that a SIS can handle the past three years of reporting data, not merely the prior year. Strive in your contract negotiations with possible SIS vendors to obtain a SIS that will be able to meet your reporting needs, not just for future years but also for including the prior year data mentioned. For Ed-Fi guidelines on RFPs, schools can review the Ed-Fi Alliance Released Model RFP.

Pre-Conversion Tasks

Before converting from SIS A to SIS B, make sure SIS A has all of the WISEids you need assigned. These can then pull into SIS B during the student data migration.

Training

It's critical that your WISEdata staff receive reporting training for the new SIS PRIOR to implementation. Encourage or require all staff working in the system to attend any training, as it may be very different than the old system.

SIS Best Practices

Once you've selected the SIS you want, listen to their best practices, standard methods, and suggested features. Even if you have a certain method for submitting data that you've always done, it may be easier and more efficient to follow the new SIS's best practices and to use their product's standard features. Using standard features and conducting little or no customization to the SIS product will make it easier for you to receive support, follow training and documentation, and maintain updates.

Exit all students at the end of the previous school year before switching SIS vendors and creating new school year enrollments with the new SIS or under the newly merged school/district. Be alert to school name changes in the case of closed or merged schools/districts. Additionally, when schools/districts merge, a new LEA Code (Agency Key) will be assigned; your SIS vendor requires this new Agency Key to send data from your SIS to DPI.

Local Person ID Assignment

Determine how each SIS generates Local Person IDs. Make sure that during conversion SIS B will not duplicate, or could not duplicate in the future, Local Person IDs from your existing SIS. If analysis shows completely different numbers generating for each SIS, you should be fine. However, if there might be overlap now or in the future generation of Local Person IDs, you will want to follow the WISEid request process to remove all Local Person IDs. Then you can have SIS B generate new Local person IDs for each student to start fresh. This is a safe and acceptable precaution because Local IDs don't impact your data; they're mainly helpful in tracking data when moving from one system to another.

*Review the conversion considerations regarding timeline and suggested SIS overlap discussed in the above section.

Ed-Fi Credential: SIS Conversion

  1. In the Ed-Fi Credential application in Secure Home, click Add Subscription to turn on SIS B (July 1, if following DPI calendar).
  2. Unsubscribe (turn off) SIS A once the snapshot date passes or, at the earliest, once count date data is entered and checked for quality.

Ed-Fi Credential: Adding a SIS Subscription

To learn how to add a SIS subscription for a primary SIS vendor or to add a supplementary SIS, such as a special education-only SIS vendor, review the Ed-Fi Credential Application tutorial.

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