Migrating to a new SIS during a pandemic was no easy undertaking, but MISTAR-Q set up Sault Ste. Marie for long-term success.
When Sault Ste. Marie’s Student Information System provider announced they were phasing out their SIS product in 2019, the district had to start a comprehensive assessment of their options. Transitioning to a new SIS provider is inherently a time-consuming endeavor. The added complication of managing such a change during the COVID-19 pandemic further heightened the stakes.
Sault Ste. Marie ultimately chose MISTAR-Q, Aequitas’ Michigan-tailored version of Q, as the SIS that could help solve their current issues and support them in their future growth.
We had the opportunity to speak with Amy Kronemeyer, Sault Ste. Marie’s Superintendent, to discuss the district’s recent migration to MISTAR-Q, including how their new SIS has enabled the district to:
- Streamline grade books
- Easily access critical data
- Access a large support network
The Journey to MISTAR-Q
Before transitioning to a new system, Sault Ste. Marie grappled with several challenges with their former SIS. The most notable hurdle revolved around the intricacies of grade books.
Their previous grade book offered an overwhelming array of options, often causing confusion among teachers and administrators. This complexity resulted in grading and reporting inefficiencies, ultimately requiring more time from teachers to accurately complete.
Their previous SIS also required multiple integrations to ensure functionality within the district. This not only introduced various security risks but also led to frustration when these integrations failed to operate or required multiple steps that diverted time from other essential tasks.
Researching Potential SIS Solutions
Finding a product with all critical tools in an integrated system, a streamlined grade book, easily accessible data, and a responsive and proficient support team were at the forefront of Sault Ste. Marie’s buying criteria.
MISTAR-Q made the prospective list because Kronemeyer had learned about this option from the MISTAR Consortium. This Consortium is comprised of Wayne and Oakland educational service agencies that combine technology and local expertise in vetting best-fit solutions for Michigan districts.
Building Trust Through Tailored Presentations and Product Capabilities
During the demonstration phase of the buying process, MISTAR-Q impressed the district with multiple personalized walkthroughs of the product. While other SIS providers had marketing or sales teams present, MISTAR-Q had their subject matter experts from Wayne and Oakland RESAs present tailored demos to different personnel throughout the district.
“What I really appreciated about their presentation is that they went more in-depth for the different staff members,” Kronemeyer said. “It really helped everyone across different departments feel confident this SIS could fit our needs.”
Another deciding factor that led Sault Ste. Marie to select MISTAR-Q was its alignment with Michigan state and school requirements. This state-specific focus was a significant advantage, as it ensured that MISTAR-Q was finely tuned to meet the unique needs, regulations, and standards of Michigan’s educational landscape.
“We’re able to work with other Michigan schools and access people who have a lot more resources and expertise than I have or my district has,” Kronemeyer said.” We can tap into their expertise and configure a localized version of MISTAR-Q and share that back with other districts, which makes Michigan stronger for all of our students.”
A Tailored Implementation Process
Instead of applying a one-size-fits-all implementation methodology like many other SIS providers, the MISTAR-Q team started by familiarizing themselves with the district—understanding their processes and protocols. This enabled them to customize the implementation specifically to Sault Ste. Marie’s needs.
“This approach to our implementation process made it a lot more streamlined for us,” Kronemeyer said. “By getting to know our district, they were able to determine the best timing to train our staff on a specific piece of the software. It really helped to avoid overwhelming people at the beginning.”
The MISTAR-Q team assigned different specialists to present on various components of the SIS. This method allowed the district’s personnel to pose highly targeted questions and receive in-depth, well-informed responses.
Throughout the entire implementation process, the MISTAR-Q team documented everything and left these as guides for the district to refer back to. This comprehensive documentation of their training not only facilitated a successful transition to the district’s new SIS, but also empowered the district to maintain and evolve its system effectively.
“That documentation has proven invaluable for us,” Kronemeyer stated. “You might train someone today, but in two weeks you might have a different person in that position. If we didn’t have that documentation, we’d have to start back at square one with training.”
Streamlined Grade Books Save Valuable Time
The implementation of MISTAR-Q’s grade book module at Sault Ste. Marie School District led to a significant transformation in their academic processes. What once required multiple integrations to be functional for teachers now fell under one cohesive platform.
Educators experienced an intuitive, streamlined, and efficient grade book system that enhanced the accuracy of grades and student feedback. Students and parents alike benefit from this real-time access to academic progress, creating a more informed and engaged learning community.
The district’s requirements for math curriculum is one great example of the time savings gained through the new grade book interface.
“The software we use for our math curriculum has a specific set of rules for how the individual student data and teacher data has to be exported,” Kronemeyer said. “With MISTAR-Q, we just click a couple of buttons to run the report and upload it to their portal. It has made it so much faster than when we had to do the process manually.”
Easily Accessible Reports for Informed Decision-Making
Before MISTAR-Q, Sault Ste. Marie had to extract and analyze data manually. Information was scattered across various systems, making it difficult to compile comprehensive reports. The previous systems also lacked user-friendly interfaces, hindering quick data retrieval and analysis.
Both of these issues combined made gathering real-time data a struggle, which impacted the ability to make timely and informed decisions.
With the implementation of MISTAR-Q, users can build intuitive dashboards that allow administrators to access critical data with ease. This not only saves the district time they can allocate to instruction and student support, but they are also able to quickly make data-backed decisions.
“I like to call it ‘one-touch data’ where you only have to touch the system once to get what you’re looking for,” Kronemeyer said. “This was in contrast to our previous system where we had to go through multiple reports and interfaces to find the data we needed.”
A Large Support Network
One of the areas of MISTAR-Q that shines brightest in Kronemeyer’s eyes is the Consortium’s accessibility and the network of support available to schools. She appreciates that there are multiple points of contact within the MISTAR-Q team she can call for help, versus only one or two support specialists with other SIS vendors.
“On a scale of 1-10, I would rate the MISTAR-Q support a 12,” Kronemeyer said. “I deal with a lot of vendors, and they are the most responsive, quick, and professional vendor I’ve dealt with. They truly care about what you’re trying to do and achieve within your school district.”
Being a Michigan-specific Student Information System, the Consortium is continuously looking for ways to better serve its clients and their schools. Feedback is always welcomed and encouraged, and the MISTAR-Q team makes updates to the SIS based on these direct user comments.
As a Student Information System tailored specifically for Michigan, the Consortium is dedicated to constantly enhancing its services for its clients and the schools they serve. They welcome and encourage feedback, and the MISTAR-Q team regularly incorporates users’ comments into updates for the SIS.
“Unlike other vendors that will promise you the world and underdeliver, MISTAR-Q is the opposite,” Kronemeyer said. “They promise realistic expectations of what they can do, and oftentimes deliver what you didn’t even think was possible.”