On this year’s round of Ministry of Education accreditation of student management system (SMS) software products, seven vendors out of 13 have had their offerings accredited for use in schools.
Schools can still use non-accredited packages, but by July 2006 “the Ministry would like to see all secondary schools using products from accredited vendors,” says Ministry SMS project manager Ian Munro. The equivalent target date for the primary sector is July 2008. These, however, are only internal deadlines for the Ministry's own efforts in "encouraging" use of accredited software, a spokeswoman adds. "There is no question of mandating."
The successful packages are:
- eMinerva from MXL Consolidated
- eTAP, from Educational Software Distribution (ESD)
- Integris, supplied by the Itas Education Division of Renaissance
- Kamar, from the New Zealand company of the same name
- Musac Student Manager, from Massey University
- PC School 2000, from Com-Assist Solutions
- Schoolmaster, from Kowhai Programming Systems
There was some controversy last year when only one product, Integris, passed the accreditation test, and the Ministry followed up with a $1.2 million fund established to assist schools in its implementation. Ministry representatives explained that it could not be seen to support non-accredited products financially, but some competitors saw it as giving Integris a discriminatory boost in the market.
Musac, despite being the most popular product among schools, was not accredited last year.
The Ministry will be assisting schools with implementation funding again this year, but the amount has not yet been fixed.
This year the questions for accreditation were more detailed but rather clearer, says Musac deputy manager Bruce Graves. Last year vendors complained that it was not clear exactly what information the Ministry was looking for and sometimes the wrong information was supplied, resulting in a lower score.
“This year, the Ministry held a feedback session when we could raise any questions," Graves says."That was a help.”
Musac submitted 22.5kg of paperwork over the whole accreditation process this year, Graves says, including detailed "road maps" of the sequence of operations required to invoke any task.
“We have improved some of our business processes markedly since last year,” such as a better-coordinated release cycle, he says.