Over the summer of 2018 the Lafayette School District changed the program teachers use to access grades to SAM’s Spectra by Central Access. The change from the widely popular system Chalkable, more commonly referred to as InformationNow (INow), has many parents and students confused as to how the new system works and why we changed in the first place.
The biggest deciding factor in the search for a new program was money. The Alabama based program, Chalkable (INow), was recently bought out by a company out of California called PowerSchool causing its price to skyrocket. The district’s technology director, McNeil Stanford, gave insight into the economics of the switch.
“We swapped because they were going to increase our price by six times what we were
paying,” Stanford said.
After deciding not to continue using Chalkable, the question now was what other company to use. Swapping to SAM’s allows the district to support a local business with the Central Access headquarters being located in Jackson, Mississippi. Central Access is also the company that the Mississippi Department of Education uses to test all of their state testing programs.
By aligning our district’s program with that of the state it allows our technology department to be on the same page as the Education Department in Jackson. Most schools in the state use this system. When asked about the teachers’ and students’ response to the change in systems, Carmen Jenkins, the district’s instructional technologist, explained the mixed feedback they have received.
“[The system] is very user-friendly and simple to use. Change is hard for everyone and what you’re used to, but we’ve had some positive feedback, and teachers are still learning the program.”
Many students and parents have asked how to access their grades online through the new program. Currently, with only the Active Parent program running, students may only view their grades using their parents’ account. This is now fixed with the new Active Student program that was written, and it allows students to view their grades through their own accounts without having to go through their parents account.
The reason it was not up at the start of the school year is because the tech department was trying to make the program easier for students to use. In INow students had to remember randomly generated usernames and passwords to their account. Now the technology department has worked hard to write a program that would simplify the account usernames and passwords.
“We wanted to customize your login. We wanted it to be your same username and password you always used,” explained Jenkins.
The Active Student program in now up and running,and while there is not an app, you may access your account by going to lafayette.activestudent.net. Use the first portion of your school email account (ex: murphy.smith34) and your MSIS number as your password.