Improving Efficiency, Equity, and Transparency in K-12 Admissions and Enrollment
By: Kara Baer, Director, K-12 Practice, Acumen Solutions
Recruitment, admissions, and student enrollment can be a time-consuming headache in K-12 education. But it doesn’t have to be: the right technology can be an aspirin for staff and for families. In our work with public and private schools at Acumen Solutions, we’ve found that virtually all of them share some of the same challenges with admissions and enrollment:
1. Lack of a centralized resource for parents to find information about schools, esp. school quality
2. Multiple school enrollment applications operating on different timelines
3. Many different school-level policies and requirements
4. Lack of transparency for parents regarding acceptance and waitlists
A better way to engage parents and track students throughout the process
The guiding principle of our work is that all students, regardless of income or socioeconomic status, should have access to quality education. Through our work with districts and organizations serving more than two million students, we’ve learned many valuable lessons regarding what makes a city, school, district, or charter management organization successful in implementing a new system for admissions and enrollment:
1. Streamlined parent information and a mobile-friendly application portal can level the playing field for all families, especially those who are underserved.
2. An enrollment system enables schools to market to and communicate with families effectively, providing greater transparency into the entire process.
3. Tracking student enrollment data centrally can prevent students from “slipping through the cracks” or becoming enrolled in multiple schools.
4. Collecting and tracking enrollment data centrally allow schools to resource plan more efficiently and cities or districts to better understand parent demand.
What does improving admissions and enrollment look like in practice?
Using Salesforce, Acumen Solutions worked with Jeffco Public Schools to help the district launch a unified enrollment experience – gathering admissions, placement, and student information in a single application. In collaboration with the Jeffco team, we used the Salesforce platform to:
- Create a family-facing portal to serve as a hub for information on schools and policies so that families can easily get key information to find the right school for their child.
- Design a universal enrollment application operating on a single timeline for schools across the district.
- Build an administrative backend, housing information about parent preferences and student demographics that helps power fair and transparent student assignment to schools.
Jeffco School Finder
Now, as Jeffco Public Schools prepares to enter its second streamlined enrollment season, the enrollment team will facilitate this process for more than 80,000 students across the district.
Jeffco Public Schools is just one data point.
Better systems for better schools
From Philadelphia and Indianapolis, to Washington, D.C. and New Orleans, we’re working with other school districts and organizations around the country to leverage Salesforce to improve their admissions and enrollment processes – saving time and improving the experience for parents and students. Often, these cities are solving for similar challenges like streamlining enrollment processes, doing away with paper applications, and preventing bad data. But because the context and processes of every city are different, it’s important to ensure that the technology also focuses on solving the specific pain points of families and schools in the region.
Acumen Solutions customized Salesforce to help more than 70 charter schools across the city of Philadelphia join forces to create a single admissions application for students. Recognizing that multiple applications on various timelines can be confusing and laborious for families, these charter leaders voluntarily worked to create a one-stop shopping experience for families wishing to apply to any one of the more than 70 participating schools.
Also using Salesforce, we worked with The Recovery School District in New Orleans to help the city become one of the first to launch a unified application and enrollment system for both district and charter schools. Now, every student from birth to grade 12 in the city of New Orleans can find a school or program through Enroll NOLA’s family hub. In the 2019 main application round, the Enroll NOLA team processed nearly 16,000 student applications.
Want to learn more? Watch this webinar to dive more deeply into how Salesforce for K-12 can help traditional public districts, charters, and private schools streamline admissions and enrollment. Learn how Jeffco Public Schools boosted transparency for families and achieved new efficiencies by creating a unified enrollment experience–and how any school or system can too!
About the Author
Kara Baer provides project management and leadership experience related to the implementation of large-scale education reform initiatives at Acumen Solutions. She has specific expertise in universal enrollment system design and implementation, data-driven decision-making, and training design and delivery. Prior to joining Acumen Solutions to help lead education technology implementations, Kara served as a School and District level Administrator in Washington, D.C.
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