“Everything you need to know is in the manila folders.”
This was the starting point for the first tracking system I developed in 1999. The school I was working in was very good at record keeping – on paper. On day one, my supervisor said, “Everything you need to know about your kids is in these manila folders,” as she handed over a cardboard box. As I sifted through the files to collate the data, I thought, “There has to be a better way.” I created an excel spreadsheet, transferring reading levels, Basic Skills Test results and other test results into electronic format. After showing my colleagues on staff, they were excited about the possibilities and offered suggestions as to what else could be recorded – psychometric testing, vision problems etc. It soon became clear that a more sophisticated system than a simple excel spreadsheet was going to be needed.
Microsoft Access provided the solution. I had been dabbling in database design as part of another project – a School Athletics Carnival scoring system so transferred these skills and learnings to create a Student Tracking Database and so around June 1999, the first incarnation of Student Tracker was born. This version of Student Tracker continued to be used (and updated by myself) in that school until 2013 when they converted their data to the online version.
In 2004, Reditech Australia was established and student tracking systems became a core part of my business. As a consultant, I was asked by several schools to develop a Student Tracking system specific to their school. When I showed them the system I had designed, their eyes lit up and once more, further suggestions and tweaks were added. This led to approximately 35 schools using a version of the initial tracking system developed in 1999. The problem then became one of support, upgrades & updates and how to manage this across so many different versions and locations. In addition, teachers were wanting something accessible from home.
So, in 2010, after searching for a development team, Student Tracker was developed into a fully web based tracking solution for schools. It built upon the Microsoft Access versions but added additional functionality such as auto calculating test scores and enhanced report features. The first client ‘signed up’ in December 2010 and the system has been adopted by over 115 schools since that time. Feedback from users and changes in educational requirements have led to further development and today, Student Tracker is serving the needs of teachers and schools across systems and jurisdictions. Now, when teachers go looking for data, rather than sifting through manila folders, the response is, “Everything you need to know is in Student Tracker.”