Skyward Wins 2013 District Administration Readers’ Choice Top 100 Products Award
K-12 administrators select the Student Management Suite from Skyward as one of the industry’s best
student information systems
 
STEVENS POINT, Wis. – Dec. 3, 2013 – For the second year in a row, the Student Management Suite from Skyward was named a Readers’ Choice Top 100 Product by District Administration magazine. Skyward was chosen by the District Administration editors from a record-setting 1,800-plus nominations, based upon both the quantity of nominations Skyward received and the quality of reader descriptions.

Readers nominated the Skyward web-based student information system for its streamlined, integrated functions, such as grade books, scheduling, discipline monitoring and demographics, which provide access to real-time data. In addition, readers like that the system enables their districts to automate services such as report generation and email to save time and facilitate communication between the school and parents.

“It’s an honor to once again be named one of the best programs in the education industry,” said Ray Ackerlund, vice president of marketing & product management. “What makes the award even more special is that the nominations come directly from Skyward customers who use the product every day and see the value of what they are using. With over 1,800 entries, to be chosen as one of the top 100 is a prestigious distinction.”

The Readers’ Choice Top 100 Products award program recognizes leaders in the education industry that have contributed to the success of school districts. For more information, visit http://www.districtadministration.com/tags/readers’-choice-top-100-products.

About Skyward
Skyward is a leading provider of K-12 school administrative software that surpasses districts’ needs in state reporting, improves operational capabilities, and opens communication between schools and families. Today, the Skyward School Management System™ is used in more than 1,600 school districts worldwide, ranging from districts with as few as 50 students to statewide implementations supporting more than 800,000 students. Founded in 1980, Skyward serves school districts with its integrated student, finance, and human resources suite of products and is proudly made and supported in the United States. To learn more, visit www.skyward.com.

 

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AASA Statement on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA)

Alexandria, Va. – Dec. 3, 2013 – Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, issued the following statement following the release of the Program for International Student Assessment by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. This is a test of reading literacy, mathematics and science given every three years to 15-year-olds in the United States and approximately 70 countries worldwide.

“AASA is grateful to the OECD for releasing this information as we work to produce programs and policies to improve schools and school districts throughout our country on behalf of our students. According to the report: http://www.oecd.org/pisa/keyfindings/pisa-2012-results-overview.pdf

• U.S. students earned scores that were slightly above the international average in reading and slightly below average in science and mathematics.
• Countries earning scores well above the international average included Shanghai-China, Singapore, Korea, Japan and Finland.
• Shanghai-China had the highest score in mathematics, with a mean score of 613 points—119 points above the international average.

“With respect to these results, it’s important to realize that children in the United States are not falling behind. Today, the dropout rate, which has been declining steadily since 1972, is the lowest it has ever been. High school completion rates have been trending up as we have the highest high school graduation rate in decades (78.2 percent during 2009-10).

“The problem we find in American education isn’t that schools are ‘falling behind,’ it is that schools are ‘pulling apart.’ Poverty in America is the real issue behind today’s education gap, and it means students can experience different education trajectories because of where they live. Poverty is a reality and cannot be used as an excuse. It is something we must address if we are serious about bolstering student learning and closing achievement gaps, whether on NAEP, PISA or any other educational metric.

“NAEP (the National Assessment of Educational Progress) scores indicate higher academic achievement occurs in schools with the lowest percentage of kids on free and reduced lunch. Conversely, schools with lower academic achievement are the ones with the highest percentage of kids on free and reduced lunch. It is clear that poverty is a key indicator of academic performance and it seems that zip codes are the greatest predictor of achievement.

“At AASA, we continue to work diligently with our local school system leaders to provide solutions in their respective communities by developing programs and services for children of poverty. In an effort to level the playing field, our nation needs to increase our investment in early childhood programs. This is one way to stabilize America’s education system. Once we increase our investment in education, more students, regardless of where they live, will reach greater achievement levels.”

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Learning First Alliance Issues Statement about Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) Results

 

Washington, D.C. – December 3, 2013 – The Learning First Alliance (LFA), a partnership of leading education organizations representing more than 10 million parents, educators and policymakers, releases the following statement:

Today, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released the latest results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a test of reading literacy, mathematics, and science given every three years to fifteen-year-olds in the United States and approximately seventy countries and economies worldwide.

It is vital that parents, educators, policymakers and other education stakeholders view these results in context. While the ranking of the United States is disappointing and reflects little change in how our nation’s students are performing relative to their peers around the world, this ranking is only one indicator of student achievement. Other measures show significant improvement in the performance of U.S. schools in recent years. The U.S. estimated on-time graduation rate has improved dramatically since 2000 – the first year of PISA. In addition, on the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), U.S. 4th and 8th graders made significant gains in math scores between 1995 and 2011.

We would also like to remind stakeholders that there is valuable information in the PISA report beyond the rankings that we should not ignore, including the results of OECD research on the policies and practices that high-performing nations use in their successful efforts to improve student achievement. From this work, the United States can draw many lessons that can inform our efforts to advance student learning.

According to the OECD, the highest-performing countries combine quality with equity, including by investing in early childhood education and prioritizing links with parents and communities, particularly in disadvantaged schools. In addition, in 2011 the OECD issued “Strong Performances and Successful Reformers in Education: Lessons from PISA for the United States,” which referred to a number of policies and practices that higher-performing nations consistently demonstrate, including that they:

  • Commit to education and the belief that competencies can be learned and therefore all children can achieve, evidenced in part by teacher compensation relative to other professions, the value placed on education credentials, and investment in instructional services
  • Commit to develop a highly skilled workforce, often subsidizing tuition for initial preparation, establishing a common, high standard for entry into the profession and investing in professional learning to support teachers and school leaders
  • View accountability as an important endeavor, often emphasizing “professional accountability” (systems in which teachers feel accountable to fellow teachers and school leaders) as opposed to sole reliance on “administrative accountability” (systems in which administrators use student-achievement test data to reward and punish teachers, schools and districts)
  • Invest resources where they can make the most difference – for example, by devoting equal if not more resources to schools facing socioeconomic challenges (the United States is one of very few OECD countries that does not currently do this)
  • Ensure coherence of policies and practices, aligning policies across the system over a sustained period of time and securing consistency of implementation – for example, announcing a policy only when accompanied by a plan for building the capacity to implement it

There is one notable way in which the United States has moved in the direction of high-performing nations. Such nations typically have established ambitious, focused and coherent standards that are shared across the system and aligned with other components of the education system. Across the U.S., states have taken action to raise performance standards – the adoption by 45 states and the District of Columbia of the Common Core State Standards is a case in point.

To meet the potential of the Common Core and other efforts to implement college and career ready standards, teachers, administrators, parents and communities must continue to work together to align the standards with curriculum, instruction and assessment. This work will take time; however, it is necessary to ensure the standards have a sustained impact on learning outcomes.

In addition, LFA members are committed to working across all sectors of the community to focus U.S. policy and resources on other changes that evidence suggests will result in the advancement of student learning. We will continue to strive for improved student performance, both so that our nation’s international ranking will improve and, more importantly, so that our nation’s children will have the opportunity for successful lives in the global community.

About The Learning First Alliance

The Learning First Alliance is a partnership of leading education associations with more than 10 million members dedicated to improving student learning in America’s public schools. Alliance members supporting this statement include: the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, American Association of School Administrators,  American Federation of Teachers, American School Counselor Association, International Society for Technology in Education, Learning Forward (formerly National Staff Development Council), National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Education Association, National School Public Relations Association, National PTA, National School Boards Association and Phi Delta Kappa International. The Alliance maintainswww.learningfirst.org, a website that features what’s working in public schools and districts across the country.

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