How the Q Student Information System Empowers Achievement at Cajon Valley Union School District

At the heart of the district’s successful 20+ years of student operations is Aequitas Solutions’ SIS, Q. 

Cajon Valley Union School District in San Diego County, California serves a diverse population of over 18,000 students across 28 schools. As a district committed to providing a quality education for all, technology plays a crucial role in ensuring student success. 

At the forefront of the district’s technology-driven approach to student success is their Student Information System (SIS), Q, a robust platform that is the epicenter of Cajon Valley’s student and district operations. 

We spoke with Jonathon Guertin, Chief Technology Officer, about Cajon Valley’s decades-long partnership with Aequitas and their use of the company’s SIS product, Q. Having worked with numerous SIS vendors throughout his career in education, Jonathon ranks Q as his favorite Student Information System for several reasons, including its ability to: 

  • Streamline free and reduced meal applications 
  • Automate asset management 
  • Translate and create report cards 
  • Easily be configured to align with Cajon Valley’s processes 

Streamlined Cafeteria Operations   

Prior to using Q’s integrated food service module, Cajon Valley struggled to ensure all qualified students received free or reduced-priced meals. Their previous system for determining eligibility for the free and reduced lunch program was not integrated with their SIS, was error-prone, and limited the district’s ability to extend benefits to family members who might not have direct certification themselves.   

“The system we used before was very archaic,” Guertin said. “It wasn’t flexible enough to allow us to extend direct certification to family members, even if we wanted to do so manually. This limitation not only made it difficult to ensure equitable access to meals for all students but also created a lot of extra work for us to maintain accurate data.”   

By implementing Q Food Service, Cajon Valley significantly improved its ability to identify and deliver free and reduced-price meals to qualified students. Q Food Service is seamlessly integrated with Q SIS, reducing duplicate data entry and streamlining the eligibility process and eliminating the logistical hurdles that previously prevented them from extending benefits to family members. 

“Q Food Service has helped us make our free and reduced meal program more accessible to students,” Guertin said. “The numbers we have today wouldn’t have even been imaginable on our old system.” 

Q Food Service also has robust data management capabilities. This allows the district to maintain clean and accurate household data, which is essential for ensuring that the program runs smoothly and reaches all eligible students. 

Asset Management with High Student Mobility 

Cajon Valley’s high student mobility rate posed a unique challenge for asset management. Students frequently transfer between district schools, which made it difficult to track Chromebooks assigned to them on their previous SIS.  

“We would have to go through a whole transfer process and then someone would have to go back in and manually accept it,” Guertin explained. “The entire process took valuable time for our staff to complete, and because of the manual nature, it was also prone to inaccuracies.”  

Once the district implemented Q SIS inventory module, the district streamlined the entire workflow around tracking Chromebooks assigned to their students. The module not only automated tasks previously performed manually by IT staff, such as tracking Chromebook assignments and transfers, but it also simplified repair management and helped prevent loss or theft. 

“We were surprised by how easy it was to integrate the inventory module with other systems, like enrollment and our help desk,” Guertin said. “It’s helped streamline everything around Chromebooks, from requesting one at the beginning of the school year to getting repairs done.”   

In addition to automating Chromebook management tasks, the inventory module also allows district staff to import inventory data received from other vendors directly into Q. This eliminates the need for manual data entry, which saves the district time and reduces errors. 

“That’s one of the aspects I enjoy most about Q. The ease of not only getting data in and out of the system but also being able to configure and choose different types of data we want to show different audiences. It’s saved our district a lot of headaches.” Jonathon Guertin, CVUSD

Configurable, Multi-Lingual Report Cards  

Generating report cards was a time-intensive task before using Q’s report card feature.  Each report card template existed as individual PDF documents, requiring hours of work to modify and remap.  

“We have five different languages we use for report cards and four different report card types,” Guertin said. “When you take those variables and multiply them across nine grade levels, that’s a ton of time spent just producing report cards.” 

Q’s report card capabilities revolutionized how Cajon Valley generated and distributed student reports. By eliminating manual template mapping, supporting different, configurable report card types, direct language translations, and enabling mass updates, the system drastically reduced the time and effort required for report card generation.  

“Report cards now take a fraction of the time they used to,” Guertin said. “The time savings allows our staff to focus on other aspects of students’ education – not just compiling report cards.” 

An Extensible SIS for Cajon Valley’s Unique Needs 

Reflecting on his experience in the education industry, Guertin stated that many SIS products are “off-the-shelf” and require the school district to adapt their operations to the system’s requirements.    

“When dealing with an SIS, you usually get what you get,” Guertin said. “It can be time-consuming and frustrating trying to make your district work with a specific SIS — but that’s not the case with Q. We’re able to make it fit in with our unique operations at Cajon Valley, rather than forcing our operations to fit around the software itself.” 

With pre-built, configurable features as well as an extensible product architecture, Q is easily adaptable and flexible for any district depending on the desired level of customization. For Cajon Valley, setting up custom widgets to enable staff to retrieve information relevant to their job function has proven invaluable. 

“That’s one of the aspects I enjoy most about Q,” Guertin said. “The ease of not only getting data in and out of the system but also being able to configure and choose different types of data we want to show different audiences. It’s saved our district a lot of headaches.” 

Cajon’s Vision for Continuous Improvement  

While Cajon Valley has made significant strides in its district operations with Q, the district remains focused on future goals, like enhancing the enrollment process by embracing full digitalization and incorporating text-based communication. 

“Our hope is to involve parents more actively throughout the enrollment and re-enrollment process,” Guertin said. “By utilizing text messaging, we can provide them with timely updates on the progress of their application. This will improve transparency and keep parents informed throughout the process.” 

In addition to streamlining enrollment, Cajon Valley also has its sights set on integrated data analysis with Q Analytics. Q Analytics is a powerful module that provides valuable insights into student performance, school operations, and district trends. By leveraging the data collected by Q Analytics, Cajon Valley hopes to gain a deeper understanding of its student population and make data-driven decisions to power student success. 

As the district embraces the future of paperless enrollment and enhanced data analytics, Aequitas Solutions and its SIS, Q, remain a crucial partner in Cajon Valley’s journey towards a more effective, inclusive, and successful learning environment for all students. 

“Aequitas and by extension, Q, is really a partner of ours,” Guertin said. “In a state as complex as California, it’s invaluable to have that relationship and trust with a vendor versus just being a one-in-a-thousand district. Having a true partner that wants to help you achieve success is invaluable.” 

“When dealing with an SIS, you usually get what you get. It can be time-consuming and frustrating trying to make your district work with a specific SIS — but that’s not the case with Q. We’re able to make it fit in with our unique operations at Cajon Valley, rather than forcing our operations to fit around the software itself.” – Jonathon Guertin, CVUSD

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