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K-12Lead of the Week

Student Information Systems remain a wide-open, if highly fragmented market.

From the October 22 issue of K-12Leads and Youth Services Markets Report.

Announcement: Student Information System Due November 21 (Oct 17), Stockton Unified School District, California

Their Description: Stockton Unified School District is asking for proposals to provide an integrated enterprise Student Information System.... as conceptualized in Figure 1. SUSD’s primary goal... is... a system... for the next seven to ten years (and).... a vendor partner who will grow with the district’s needs.... The proposed... System must include....

• Student enrollment, student entry and withdrawal, daily and period-by-period attendance accounting including Average Daily Attendance (ADA), student grading and grade reporting, student discipline, student testing and assessment, student scheduling, special education, student health, and district, state (CDE), and federal compliance regulations and report generation.

• [Interface] with.... a library management system, student transportation system, district calling system, testing/assessment system, and the SUSD human resources system as well as the California Department of Education CSIS.... (SUSD) currently maintains its student information using... SASI xp by Pearson School Systems.... Additional... information... is maintained by multiple data systems.... managed in both electronic and paper formats with records located in centralized databases as well as... departments. The K-8 schools use SASI xp... and Data Director.... Special Education students are managed by... GoalView by Learning Tools International.... [H]gh schools use SASI xp...

• [A] complete system consisting of software, hardware, installation, software customization, training, and software support, including all standard SUSD, CDE, and federal reports.... All legacy and historic student data will be converted to the new SIS system by the software vendor...

SUSD is seeking a single supplier...

My Thoughts: Without an “integrated student information system,” it will be very hard for any district to leave no child behind (or, for recent edbizbuzz readers, even 20 percent). Each of our nearly 15,000 school districts will eventually “make or buy” one. As this RFP suggests, the phrase remains an oxymoron rather than a description of reality on the ground, and so a worthy market. (See also DeKalb County, Georgia, and other districts across the country.)

I last looked seriously at the supply side of student information services in 2003, courtesy of work done for New American Schools by the Parthenon Group. At the time, the market was highly fragmented. Perhaps six providers trying to do it all, sharing well under half the total revenues, and hundreds of local, state and regional providers doing bits and pieces of the rest.

Mergers and acquisitions have since reduced the number of top players, but I don’t see a vast increase in their market share. If a truly dominant player is to emerge, it will have to offer both parts of a system that can operate with what client districts want to keep, and whole new systems or replacements. That’s a tall order and a tough business strategy to pursue.

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