What’s So Great About Aspen?
DISTRICT | December 6, 2018
What’s So Great About Aspen?

The new Aspen Parent and Student Portal will provide users with a more streamlined and intuitive user experience while viewing their student’s data online.  For teachers, they will be able to manage student data more efficiently and spend more time working with students.

These are just some of the benefits of the new mobile-friendly Aspen student information system that will be available to CPS schools and families on January 7th.

We’re partnering with Follett, a leading provider of education technology, to bring Aspen to the district. It’s a single platform that hosts and manages student data, which will allow us to consolidate our existing systems to provide student information in real time.

Aspen’s Parent Portal will give parents and students easier access to their existing and prior years’ data, such as assignments, grades, schedules, attendance, and health and immunization records. Parents will be able to view and pay student fees directly through the Portal.

High school students will be able to track their progress toward fulfilling graduation requirements by accessing their graduation summary and providing a list of high school courses they’ve taken to date.

For school-based staff, Aspen will be a one-stop-shop, meaning they will no longer have to log into multiple applications to enter student information or wait for information to sync between systems. An intuitive user interface, quick and timely access to data, robust reporting features, mobile-friendly modules, and Google integration will allow teachers to spend more time on what matters most — providing a high-quality education that prepares students for success in college, career, and civic life.

Why Aspen?

We listened to teachers, principals, and used their feedback to find a unified student information system that best suited their needs.

One of the biggest challenges teachers have had with the current system is the ability to see the “360 view of the student,” said MaryBeth Gronek,  Engagement Manager with the Department of Student Information Systems. In the past, teachers would have to open multiple applications to retrieve student information and it often wasn’t in real time. Aspen changes that.

“We currently have multiple systems, so for example, updates to a student’s schedule are often not seen in a teacher’s Gradebook until the following day. Aspen is an all-in-one system so as soon as any change is made at the front office, it will reflect immediately for teachers to see.”

To ensure a smooth transition over to Aspen this January, it was critical that school staff were familiar with Aspen. Principals were asked to identify two or more school-based staff who could serve as the in-house Aspen experts. We provided them with a comprehensive training plan to use with their peers and serve as an on-site resource to staff. In October, we launched a training website and The Sandbox, a version of Aspen, which provides school-based staff with the opportunity to “play” in the system before it goes live.

“We’re aligning to be much more customer focused because they’re the ones using the system,” said Patrick Gallagher, Student Information Systems Director. “We will keep listening to our customers and keep making improvements.”

For parents to access the Parent Portal, they’ll need to work with their student’s school to make sure their current email address is in SIM. Simply updating your email in parent portal will not work since the systems do not sync up parent contact information This will be another benefit to having an integrated system like Aspen.

Parents should expect to receive an email with the registration link the first week of January with set-up instructions. Parents can visit cps.edu/aspen to learn more.

We recommend teachers take advantage of the Sandbox’s series of exercises that mimic daily tasks to ensure a smooth transition over to Aspen. Teachers can access trainings at cps.edu/aspen in the training materials section.