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How to reduce the pain when migrating to a new SIS

September 25, 2019 Dan Carroll

Hundreds of districts received bad news from their student information system (SIS) provider this week that they’ll need to migrate to a new SIS. Here are our recommended steps to tackle a big SIS migration, and how Clever can help make that painstaking process less painful.  

The end of the hectic Back to School season usually results in a collective sigh of relief and celebration here at Clever, and the same goes for many of our districts. We’ve made it! 

However, some bad news landed this week. On September 24th, the data systems and student information system (SIS) provider Illuminate Education announced it will stop offering its SIS services before the 2021 school year [EdSurge]. 

Ultimately, this means hundreds of school districts depending on Illuminate as their SIS must migrate to a new provider. And for that, we are so sorry to the districts impacted by this news. Migrating to a new SIS is not an easy undertaking (when I was a director, I’d have nightmares about SIS migrations!). The technology teams in those districts will most likely spend long hours over the next two summers planning and implementing an SIS migration. Other planned projects and innovations will have to take a back seat. It’s a huge bummer.  

Recommended steps for migrating to a new SIS

During my time as a technology director at a middle school, I never had to migrate to a new student information system. However, working with thousands of school districts at Clever over the past seven years has given me insights on best practices for a big change like this. If I were facing an SIS migration, here’s how I’d approach it:

Recommended steps for migrating to a new SIS

Step one: Start socializing the change now with teachers, administrators, parents, and students. 

Step two: Assemble a selection committee with broad representation – everyone uses the SIS! 

Step three: Send out RFPs for a new SIS. 

Step four: Select an SIS with your committee. 

Step five: Plan a summer data migration – and consider hiring a consulting firm to help with this tricky process. 

Step six: Reach out to Clever when your data migration is planned, so we can ensure a smooth transition.

Step seven: Schedule lots of time for training staff.

Have any expert advice on how districts should tackle their SIS migration? Tweet your ideas with #sismigration and we’ll retweet the best ones! 

How Clever helps with SIS migration

As much as I’d like Clever to solve this massive headache of an issue for the 100 of our Illuminate districts — we aren’t an SIS migration company. But we can offer support, guidance, and eliminate one step in this unpleasant process. 

Once district administrators complete all the heavy lifting of data migration to a new SIS (we’re cheering you on!), Clever can assist in keeping your downstream application data clean and ready-to-go. When you use Clever as your rostering & SSO platform and migrate to a new SIS, we significantly reduce the risks of creating duplicate student or staff accounts or data errors in the applications in which your district has invested. 

When Clever is a player in your SIS migration, your applications will stay connected to a consistent platform, giving you one less thing to worry about. 

SIS integration risks non-Clever districts face

Non-Clever districts migrating away from Illuminate’s SIS service face extra steps that are clunky, frustrating, and time-consuming. Those districts will need to reintegrate all of their applications with their new SIS. 

With Clever, you don’t have to re-do every application integration, the only work you need to do is update your Clever integration. This could save you weeks or months of effort, depending on how many applications your district uses. 

When migrating to a new SIS without Clever, there’s also the risk of losing historical student data in the learning tools they use each school year. That means all the work a student completed in CommonLit in third grade wouldn’t be saved and ready for them when they start fourth grade after the SIS migration. 

Seize the opportunity to make changes

The news of Illuminate sunsetting its SIS in 2021 sent many of us here at Clever to bummer town. We empathize with the districts affected – migrating to a new SIS is a huge undertaking. 

But there’s a bit of silver lining here. Sometimes change is just an opportunity disguised as bad news. If your current setup is inefficient or painful, here’s a chance to reassess your SIS, start fresh, and work out historically painful kinks. Assemble a committee of students, teachers, parents, and admins to help make the best decision for your district. And if you’re not using Clever today, please reach out to see if we can help maintain stability during your migration.

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