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Proprietary SAISD app supports student needs

STEM nightCOVID changed everything, from the way people shop to how students learn. And it was the education community that adapted leaps and bounds ahead of schedule. Student support services was one important area that experienced rapid growth with the internal development of an application to help keep track of students during the period of remote instruction. 

Dubbed the Student Support Communications Tracker, the app was first developed in the spring of 2020 by former director of research operations, Phil Lasser. It was used during the start of the pandemic to communicate with families and track students’ needs as remote learning took center stage. It is now on its second iteration – growing in ways that school leaders need it to be used. As students moved back to class, district leaders felt it was imperative to have a way for counselors, social workers and other support personnel to provide an array of services to students. 

“Our Support Department does so much important work for all of our students and families that the last thing they should be worried about and spend time on is cumbersome data collection,” Lasser said. “With a streamlined process to enter and view the data from all the different sources, our Support Department can focus on the important work.” 

That data can range from attendance records and school environment observations to mental health reports and referrals for student needs and services. 


“Everything we do is in support of the students and teachers, so that our children are able to learn,” said Carmen Thatcher, director of student support. “That way they can be successful, stay engaged, and receive the kinds of services that fit their needs. The tracker started out really small, and it just grew and grew.” 


Areas that the tracker can record data from include:

  • Attendance
  • School environment
  • Referrals
  • District direct reports
  • Mental health.

Attendance ?
School environment ?
Referrals ?
District direct reports ?
Mental health ?

The most recent version of the app began during SAISD’s successful Jumpstart program this past summer. The app is separated by tiers, including a targeted focus on attendance and more intensive, need-based levels like student welfare. The app now has hundreds of users who can input data, and the goal for the next version is that more district personnel, including campus administrators, will be able to enter data on their students. 

“It is working,” Thatcher said. “We’re on the same page. I can collaborate with the counselor. I might call Communities in Schools. I can make recommendations on how to help the student. It’s a platform so we can all team up and make better plans for our students.” 

Angela Watters, the district’s SharePoint developer, is also an integral part of the evolution of the app. She provides support for the app and is able to collect data on its usage. 

Watters says that the category that’s utilized the most is the in-person conference - meeting with families one on one, whether that is home visits, texting, virtual conferencing, or phone calls. For instance, she can tell from campus data, that Sam Houston High School has been making a huge effort in contacting its families. 


Lasser said that he is proud of the effort to help district staff provide a robust educational experience that intends to take care of the whole student, from home to the classroom. As it develops, the application will only get better with abilities to allow more collaborators to make notes and for the right services to be connected to students and families.


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