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Tips for implementing a new student data management system

Bonterra Author
August 03, 2022
Two teachers working on a laptop discuss implementing their new student data management system.

If your school’s social workers currently operate using disjointed documents and spreadsheets, you may be looking to improve processes and data security. With a quality case management system, your school can easily keep sensitive student data centralized and safe. Having a unified database allows school districts to free up their staff’s workload and create visibility across campuses and programs, thereby enhancing services for students. 

Once your school district lands on a new case management solution to house your student data, think strategically about how you’re going to implement the new technology. Read on for a couple of overarching tips from a real school district that successfully adopted a new student data management system. 

The Oakland Unified School District’s experience

Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) needed a new data management system capable of housing data for the nearly 50,000 students across 80 elementary, middle, and high schools that they serve. OUSD chose to invest in Bonterra Program Management’s Case Management solution (formerly Social Solutions), which was built with Local Education Systems in mind and can be integrated with virtually any Student Information System (SIS). 

To make the implementation process easier, OUSD started by rolling out Bonterra Case Management to a single program: their Newcomer Wellness Initiative (NWI). This program serves students who were born outside the U.S., have been living in the U.S. for less than three years, and speak a language other than English in their home.  

Working alongside OUSD’s centralized student portal software, their new case management solution allows the NWI team to collect, track, and manage thousands of student profiles in one place, allowing them to:

  • Identify new students during the enrollment process.
  • Organize case files.
  • Track successes, such as touchpoints and connections.
  • Stay compliant with regional and federal mandates.
  • Generate compelling reports.

Going forward, when OUSD leaders wish to roll out Bonterra Case Management to other programs, the school district will have its own unique findings and best practices to better inform the process. 

Best practices for implementing your new student data management system

Based on OUSD’s experience, here are some best practices your school district should follow as you move to a new student data management system.

Start small 

Implementing case management software is a strategic, long-term investment in improving security, service delivery, and staff workload. While it can be overwhelming to onboard new technology across multiple school campuses and programs, you can lessen the burden by starting with bite-sized data projects. 

When implementing a new case management system, do not try to replace every point solution simultaneously. 

Instead, think about your goals around data and select a program that could benefit most from improved management, like OUSD’s NWI program. Then, you can decide how you want to scale the system from there. 

Get staff buy-in 

Adopting new software also requires getting buy-in from the staff that will be using it—after all, change takes some getting used to. 

To get buy-in from staff and leadership, show them data that proves the new system is valuable. Once your school district adopts a new case management system and starts using it for one program, demonstrate the impact of the system to staff using compelling data, allowing them to see the direct outcomes for students and families in real time. 

After integrating Bonterra Case Management, OUSD is now able to create reports in a matter of minutes. Before, it took the district days to create similar reports. Not only are the system’s customizable and visually appealing reports useful in presenting to funders and partners, but it’s also a great tool for getting buy-in from the people who will be using the software, like school social workers and student advocates. 

Ready to elevate your school district’s data system? 

From food insecurity to school violence to mental health challenges, students face many challenges inside and outside the classroom that can hinder their academic success. And as schools increasingly become the hub for students’ support systems, it’s imperative that they move away from antiquated and disjointed data systems like spreadsheets, documents, and even email.  

To set children up for success, school districts should invest in a robust and unified system for storing student data and making referrals. With a case management solution built specifically for school districts and educational agencies, like Bonterra Case Management, you can ensure that your staff works smarter, not harder. 

Ready to Get Started?

Written by

Bonterra Author
    Case Management
  • Education
  • Educational institutions
  • Coordinating social services