What is a Student Information System (SIS)?

A Student Information System (SIS)—also known as a student management system—is one of the core education technology (edtech) tools K–12 schools and higher education institutions use for their daily operations. Typically a web-based software platform, an SIS helps educational institutions manage and organize student data from a single online location. In this article, we highlight the benefits of an SIS, common features, how they should integrate with learning management systems, and frequently asked questions.

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Benefits of a Student Information System

Before the advent of digital SIS, schools had to manually collect, store, and organize student data. Everything from class registration to student grades was handled in silos with manual touchpoints. This required extensive paperwork and document retrieval, resulting in a  time-consuming and error-prone manual process.

When Student Information Systems emerged  in the early 80s, the benefits were clear:

  • Efficiency: An SIS can help automate various tasks such as attendance tracking, gradebook calculations, data entry, scheduling, and automated notifications to communicate with students and families.
  • Accuracy: Having a single database reduces the risk of errors and inaccuracies. Most systems have built-in data validation features and automated calculations to prevent inaccurate information.
  • Security: Using data encryption, access control features, and regular software security updates helps ensure your school’s data is safe from breaches.
  • Communication: Besides automated notifications, many SIS offer messaging, email, discussion forums, etc., to inform all parties of updates and progress.
  • Analysis: By collecting, storing, and organizing years of data in a single location, schools can easily analyze trends and make informed decisions regarding their institutions.

Common Features of an SIS

While the specific features of an SIS can vary depending on the software, most systems typically include the following:

Class Registration

This feature allows schools to manage the process of student registration for courses. It helps track the number of enrolled students, manage class sizes, and record the courses each student is taking. Informed teachers can then swiftly adapt their curriculums and lesson plans according to their class rosters.

Grade Management

Teachers can use an SIS to input and calculate student grades. It makes it easy to update grades, calculate averages, and track student performance over time. This helps reduce manual errors and input time.

Attendance Tracking

With an SIS, schools can monitor and record student attendance and automatically notify parents or guardians when a student is absent or late.

Course Scheduling

An SIS handles the creation and management of academic course schedules. It allows administrators to assign classrooms, allocate time slots, and avoid scheduling conflicts.

Transcript Generation

Many SIS platforms can produce official records of students’ academic performance. Transcripts can be generated quickly and accurately, providing a comprehensive view of a student’s academic history. 

How Do Student Information Systems Work with Learning Management Systems (LMS)?

While both SIS and LMS are critical components of the educational technology stack, they serve distinct purposes.

An SIS focuses on administrative tasks and student data management, such as enrollment, grade recording, and attendance tracking. On the other hand, an LMS is primarily designed to deliver and manage course content, track student progress in coursework, and facilitate online learning and collaboration.

The most innovative educational institutions use fully integrated SIS and  LMS to streamline processes and ensure consistency across both platforms.

How Blackbaud Student Information System™  Can Help

Blackbaud Student Information System™  provides a complete SIS and LMS functionality, so our K–12 and higher education customers are able to get a 360-degree view of all student data and learning activity. From transcripts and medical records to homework, grades, schedules, and extracurricular activities, families, faculty, and staff only need one secure login to find everything they need. This unified platform can improve your school’s efficiency and elevate the student and family experience. Reach out to request a demo today!