Each spring, my colleagues and I are responsible for ensuring that each of our District’s 6,000-plus students is registered for the following school year. In theory, registering a student for school should be as quick and easy as making an Amazon purchase; however, this is not a possibility without the right processes in place.
At Yorkville Community Unit School District 115 in Yorkville, IL, making the transition from a paper-based registration process to a technology-enabled process has significantly increased our District’s operational efficiency and has improved the student registration experience for our families and staff alike.
Making the Switch
Previously, we sent paper-based student registration packets home with each student, had families return them, and we manually inputted the information. This was time-intensive and error-prone so, initially, we took the process online utilizing the functionality of our student information system. While this system reduced our paper load and helped us get information back from families quicker, it was difficult to use and was limited in its registration management functionality. We wanted to streamline the process even further to support our families and staff.
It was important that the new online registration system we chose met certain criteria. We wanted it to be user- and mobile-friendly for parents, hosted and secure, accessible on multiple browsers and devices, compatible with our SIS, and fully customizable.
Customization, in particular, was a big consideration. It was important that we could tailor the registration forms, collect electronic signatures, and have parents easily submit the documentation our District requires, such as medical forms. By customizing the registration process to meet our requirements, we knew that we were collecting all of the information we needed in the format we needed it in. Having the registration process available in multiple languages was a plus, as one of our school buildings has an ELL program.
We ultimately implemented a dedicated online registration management system called SchoolMint, which checked off all of our requirement boxes.
Benefits of Online Registration
From making staffing decisions to determining the placement of students in classrooms, timely student registration data provides districts with the information needed to plan accordingly for the following school year(s). Conducting the student registration process online provides clean, consistent, and real-time data which has saved our staff valuable time. We no longer have to go through the thousands of registration packets and manually clean up and verify information.
Online registration also allows us to easily run reports and monitor student data across all nine of our schools. This helps us see which families have – and have not yet – completed the registration process. For those who haven’t, we can send them automated email reminders or telephone messages right from the registration system.
Making the switch to an online system has made the registration process so much easier and more efficient for parents as well. They no longer have to keep track of multiple print documents because they can complete the entire end-to-end registration process within minutes from their computer or mobile device.
Tips for a Successful Implementation
Just like any other technology implementation, it is important that sufficient preparation takes place before a new system is rolled out to parents and staff. We tested out the online registration system internally first, did trial runs with employees who have students in the system, and conducted bi-weekly conference calls with the SchoolMint team leading up to the roll out.
We also involved a lot of stakeholders – including parents – in the planning and design process to make sure the system was intuitive for all to use. A group of parents were able to demo the system and provide us with valuable feedback on which features were most beneficial to them. We also sent out emails to all parents informing them about the new system, including how it works and how to use it.
All of this planning led to a smooth roll out of our online registration management system, which has yielded positive results across the board for the District, staff, and families.
Ryan Adkins is the Director of Technology at Yorkville Community Unit School District 115 in Yorkville, IL.
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