FAQs – Voluntary State-sponsored Student Information Systems (SSISs)
Why is a voluntary statewide SIS needed? What are the benefits to local education agencies (LEAs) and Education Service Centers (ESCs)?
Many small LEAs are not able to purchase and support a SIS on their own, limiting their ability to store and analyze their own data. As a result of an RFO from TEA, TCC and Skyward are substantially enhancing their systems while reducing their standard prices.
One of the greatest benefits of a state-sponsored SIS will be automating the state reporting process and keeping current with local, state, and federal reporting requirements, which will reduce the time and cost associated with Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) submissions. ESCs will benefit in a range of ways:
- The Texas Computer Cooperative (TCC) will continue to provide its popular SIS, TxEIS™.
- ESCs will provide primary support for both state-sponsored SISs.
- The ESCs will be a major source of TSDS information and ongoing training for districts.
- ESCs will also engage with TSDS as users of the system: they will submit their own PEIMS data and accept their LEAs' PEIMS collections.
How were the SSIS vendors selected?
TEA met users from ESCs, LEAs, and campuses to compile a set of software requirements, which it then submitted to the external advisory group for review. These requirements formed the basis of a request for a SIS that could be enhanced to meet users' needs. TEA followed the State Procurement Process and ultimately selected two vendors—TCC and Skyward—with widespread implementation in Texas whose experience, quality, and attentiveness to the needs of a broad spectrum of LEAs made them the best fit.
Will the State-sponsored SIS be mandatory or optional?
Participation in the state-sponsored SIS is completely voluntary. LEAs will be able to use alternative solutions as long as the solutions comply with TEA's Texas Education Data Standards (TEDS).
What are the estimated transition costs, and will there be assistance to defray those costs?
It is expected that there will be one-time costs associated with either transitioning to a voluntary state system or modifying their existing LEA system to the new state data standard that LEAs will largely fund. LEAs should enjoy long-term cost savings in many forms, including an affordable SSIS through the state contract; reduction of hardware, software, and ongoing service costs; streamlined state data submission and reporting; and higher data quality. These benefits should offset the transition costs and allow more efficient use of resources and tax dollars.
The not-to-exceed implementation and annual maintenance costs for both SSISs can be downloaded from our Skyward and TxEIS pages.
Is the voluntary SSIS solution free of charge to LEAs?
LEAs will be responsible for annual subscription and licensing fees for the SSIS, just as they are for their existing systems. However, TEA's contracts with Skyward and TxEIS mandate reduced not-to-exceed pricing for the next 5 years for their systems, and the economies of scale realized through a statewide solution should drive down the per-student costs and result in more affordable SISs in the long term.
Does this solution mean that our current SIS or data solution is unnecessary or outdated?
No. The SSIS is optional. Because the SSIS is voluntary, LEAs with distinct needs or those that are happy with their current solution will be able to continue using those systems, as long as the systems meet the data transfer requirements for data collections. The TEDS data standards are published and available to all LEAs and vendors to support PEIMS reporting and the optional studentGPS™ Dashboards.
When will the voluntary SSIS be available for LEAs?
The SSISs are currently in the process of a phased roll out; contact the TEA Contract Managers for details about the functionality that is currently available to clients and upcoming enhancements (Skyward: Terri Hanson | TCC: Cynthia Cammack)
If our LEA is already using Skyward or TxEIS, will we still host our own data locally, or is the SSIS hosted?
The SSIS solutions are hosted.
For LEAs currently using Skyward or TxEIS, is there an automated way to move our data into the state-sponsored version of our system?
Yes. Both vendors are building extraction tools.
How can we determine whether a SSIS will save us money?
We have created a spreadsheet (the Total Cost of Ownership tool) that calculates the SSIS costs based on your attendance and allows you to enter comparable costs for your current system. You can compare the two side by side to determine which is right for you.