The 2020 school year welcomed the integration of new school information systems, which took effect on Aug. 27. Q, Naviance and x2Vol were replaced by PowerSchool, Cialfo and MobileServe, respectively.
Information Systems Administrator Bren Wells said, “We all sat back when the decisions were being made, and we thought, ‘Should we wait and implement one at a time or should we rip the bandaid off?’ So far, there haven’t been very many hiccups in the process, so I think ripping the bandaid off and implementing everything at once was the best solution.”
PowerSchool is the replacement for Q. Students are able to look up their grades, attendance, assignments and even class history, while teachers are able to use the site to take roll and input grades, just like they did with Q. An added feature that comes with PowerSchool is SchoolMessenger, which gives teachers and the rest of the school administration the ability to send messages, just like they have been doing with Remind. However, the SchoolMessenger system has yet to be used by the Dean of Men Daniel Annarelli and the rest of school administration. Wells expects it to start being used at any time in the following two weeks.
Wells said, “So, SchoolMessenger uses short-code texting. With short-code texting, you as the user have to opt in, and we needed to make sure that our students, our parents and our teachers opted in before we enabled it. We sent out some flyers and emails, but we found that people were on vacation and weren’t paying attention. That’s why we’re waiting to turn that on. So that was never a hiccup at all; it was a very carefully planned decision.”
Cialfo, the replacement for Naviance, is a site that will be used primarily by juniors and seniors looking into colleges. The site contains information on where students would want to go to college, a task list tailored to what students need to start or complete their application process and various other tabs where students can keep track of personal information like extracurricular activities or test scores. The switch to Cialfo was advocated by the Loyola counseling team.
Counselor Yoojin Han said, “Mostly Mr. Rueter advocated for the change but the whole counseling team wanted to see the change out of Naviance. From what I’ve seen of the site so far, it seems promising, but we’ll see more of it throughout the year. But I think overall it will be a successful change.”
Generally, seniors are happy with the performance of Cialfo, compared to Naviance.
Senior Nick Tan said, “It keeps the same information as Naviance, just in a cleaner format. It’s nice that it lists all the required essays all in one place. But I did find some issues with the calendar. The dating system puts days in front of the months, and that can be inconvenient sometimes.”
Finally, MobileServe replaced last year’s x2Vol. Students can track and log their service hours through a mobile app instead of having to go through Naviance to access their hours. The change was prompted due to the difficulties students faced with the user interface of x2Vol.
Community Service Program Coordinator Angela Moran said, “What we found with x2Vol was that it was very efficient on the admin site; it separated everything into categories so our job was easier. However, what we were finding from students was that it wasn’t as user-friendly as we thought. The main reason we switched was that MobileServe offered a mobile app on the phone.”
The transition to MobileServe began before the change in leadership from Mr. Zeko to Dr. Rodriguez. The community service department staff met with MobileServe last year to first discuss potential changes after receiving numerous complaints by students throughout the years x2Vol was in use.
Moran said, “The change was first recommended by the counseling department last year. We had a conference call with the MobileServe team and at that point we decided to give it a try. x2Vol was becoming a deterrent for the students instead of helping them, and that’s not what we wanted.”