Christi Cloud, director of technology and data solutions, explains district’s decision to transition from myCCS to PowerSchool in late December.

Natalie Khamis

Complete Q and A with Christi Cloud, CCS director of technology and data solutions

Why has the decision to transition from myCCS to PowerSchool been made?

We decided to transition from myCCS to PowerSchool as a part of a much larger project. We’re actually changing out our website over the winter break this year; myCCS was part of our website, and so in releasing our website and moving on to a new provider, we also had to change the platform for myCCS.

How did the idea for the change come about?

We rebranded our website back in 2008, so it is 10 years old. We’ve been getting a lot of commentary that our site is a little bit out-of-date and the style is not very up-to-date, and so that is what pushed us to start looking into a new provider. We wanted to find a different provider who more suits schools and has more up-to-date designs and styles, who is ADA accessible and compliant and provides maximum tools for our users. That is what we were looking for.

Why is now the right time to transition to PowerSchool?

We were ready to transition a couple of years ago, but because we had introduced Canvas to the district, we didn’t want to do everything all at once. We wanted to get Canvas off the ground so that students would have a platform to utilize all the new devices that had been coming into the schools, to be able to submit work and do all of that. We felt that (Canvas) took priority over the website and myCCS. We had to get everything lined up in order to be able to prioritize what needed to come next.

When will this decision go into effect?

We don’t have a specific date yet. We have a lot of moving pieces right now. We need to make sure all of our parents and students are signed up for PowerSchool accounts; we need to make sure that the website and content is ready to go. We definitely think that it is going to be likely a Wednesday or Thursday over winter break, but because it is only two weeks, we have a pretty short timeframe to pick a date.

What features will PowerSchool offer that myCCS does not currently offer?

The biggest thing that parents and students will notice is the more real-time grade access to what grades and assignments look like. There will not be a sync now between systems because students will be seeing exactly what teachers are seeing in gradebooks. That really is the most beneficial piece to students and parents: the access to real-time grading information. We have taken much of the other content that is in myCCS and moved it over to PowerSchool, but into a more vibrant layout.

Another thing you will notice is that the PowerSchool app is a lite version, so it doesn’t contain all of the information that is in the portal. Especially for our parents, we are really trying to drive them to the portal as opposed to the app. It is just not going to contain as much information because the app supports all school districts in the nation; they don’t give us as much flexibility with that tool as we do with the portal. We want to really encourage our parents especially to be using the portal. They are going to get a lot more information in the portal.

What features does myCCS currently offer that will not be transitioning to PowerSchool?

I would say one thing that it offered — really you wouldn’t have necessarily noticed — but on our end, we had granular support. It could give you items down to the individual level.  We could say ‘ninth grade students at (CHS) got this specific piece of information’ and we could do that with a click of a button. That is a little bit different than PowerSchool into what different tools we can provide to you. It takes a little more work on our end and it is just not the granular level of support that we are used to.

Where will students be able submit Anonymous Alerts to the school district and police department?

Between now and December, we will still be on the same platform right now. The district is working on a new solution that is called Stop It. It is actually a national solution and is not unique to Carmel Clay Schools. That is going to be introduced in early December. So we are not quite ready to provide screenshots until the administrators in your schools get to release that information, but we know that the tool is coming . When it comes, students and parents will have access to it just like they do now with the Anonymous Alert System. They will be able to use a mobile app, website and PowerSchool to submit an alert. Stop It is much more flexible.

What are the benefits of using PowerSchool instead of myCCS?

I think one of the other things you see within PowerSchool too is the cleaner historical grades, so you can see your grades over the number of years that you have been in Carmel Clay Schools in a much cleaner fashion.

What are the drawbacks, if any, of using PowerSchool as the main platform as opposed to myCCS?

The one downside of PowerSchool that I can think of is the app does not have everything the portal has. We have to continuously remind people that there is a portal and an app. The app is definitely not as robust as the portal.

How will this transition impact students/parents/staff members?

So I would say for students, it will not impact them that greatly because we know that kids have been using the PowerSchool app for a number of years. We know that in the month of September, before we really started broadcasting the new project, we had over 4,000 students on PowerSchool. We know that kids are using the app so I don’t anticipate a large change for students at all. I think that they are comfortable with it. There will be some students who were very comfortable with myCCS who havent started using PowerSchool yet, but I think for the most part they are going to find it easy to switch.

The biggest change for parents is just learning to go to a new tool, but they should find everything that they needed in myCCS also in Powerschool. It should be a very seamless transition once they get signed up.

Is there anything else that I have not mentioned that you would like readers to know?

I cannot emphasize enough the desire for (students) to use the portal over the app. We really want to encourage them to save the portal as a favorite on their homescreens; that’s the biggest thing we can do to help the users really utilize the site. We’d also love for students to go home and help their parents get signed up because we are having slow sign ups by parents. We could really use students’ help in talking with their parents and encouraging them to get signed up.

Rhea Acharya