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Greater Efficiency and Equity in K-12 School District Admissions and Enrollment

By April 4, 2018

By: Kara Baer, K-12 Practice Lead, Acumen Solutions

Better technology can help level the playing field for underserved families with children in school.

Managing recruitment, admissions, and student enrollment can be a time-consuming headache in K-12 education – unless you have the right technology. In our work with public and private schools at Acumen Solutions, we’ve found that districts often share many of the same challenges with admissions and enrollment:

    1. Lack of a centralized resource for parents to find information about schools and 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

Improving equity and efficiency in education through technology

All students, regardless of income or socioeconomic status, should have access to quality education. Through our work with districts and organizations serving more than 300,000 students, we’ve learned many valuable lessons regarding what makes a city, district or CMO 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 underserved families
    2. An enrollment system should enable schools to market to and communicate with families effectively
    3. Tracking student enrollment data centrally can prevent students from “slipping through the cracks” or be enrolled in multiple locations
    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 for K-12, 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.
Using the Salesforce platform, Acumen Solutions worked with the Enroll NOLA team to:

  • Create a family-facing portal to serve as a hub for information on schools and policies
  • Create a single universal enrollment application operating on a single timeline for all schools across the city
  • Create an administrative backend, housing information about parent preferences and student demographics that can be used to help inform student assignment to schools
  • Create a Student Information System to serve as the single source of truth for student enrollment in schools across the city

Now, as Enroll NOLA prepares to enter its seventh enrollment season, 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 2017, the Enroll NOLA team processed more than 15,000 student applications in the main round, with a 97% match rate for applicants who listed 4 or more selections.

Admissions and application chart of K-12 school results with for K-12 with Acumen Solutions

Not only have families benefited from this new streamlined system, but schools have as well. Schools now have the ability to view their student rosters earlier, and are also enjoying a more efficient process for transfers and discharges that prevents students from “disappearing” or “slipping through the cracks.”

New Orleans is just one data point.

Better systems for better schools

From Newark and Indianapolis, Washington, D.C., to Baton Rouge (to name a few), 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 streaming enrollment applications, 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 of the region.

Acumen Solutions customized Salesforce for K-12 to help Newark Enrolls create an enrollment portal.

Newark Enrolls website

For instance:

  • In Newark, we worked with the Newark Enrolls team to create an “Instant Enrollment” portal that allows families to find open seats and enroll or transfer instantaneously (after the initial placement)
  • In Baton Rouge, schools can use a common registration system to collect registration information and documents from families
  • In Washington, D.C., families can view up-to-the-minute waitlist positions as well as enrollment and waitlist historical trend data to help families make informed decisions

In total, systems built by Acumen Solutions with Salesforce for K-12 have processed more than 250,000 student applications and hundreds of thousands of waitlist records that have impacted the lives of thousands of students across the United States. When asked by a reporter from CBS in 2013 what having the opportunity to choose the high school she wished to attend meant, student Simone Smith said, “It meant everything. I don’t think I would be here if I wasn’t able to pick the high school that I wanted to go to. Because I don’t feel like you can be truly educated without having a choice. I think having a choice is kind of education.”

Want to learn more? Join us for a live webinar on April 10th 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 Enroll Indy helped families across Indianapolis easily access critical school information to find the right schools for their children.

Register Now