Solutions

Minnesota school district tames raging rivers of data with home–grown FileMaker Pro solutions
The Westonka Public School District uses FileMaker Pro in the in the classrooms and in the administrative sector in its ongoing commitment to the highest standards of academic excellence.

Westonka Public School District

Bordering the sky–blue waters of Minnesota's beautiful Lake Minnetonka, the Westonka Public School District prides itself on an outstanding record of student performance, consistently ranking among the state's top schools for standardized test scores, and standing as one of 22 Minnesota districts to be recognized as "Academic Outperformers" by the prestigious Standard and Poors School Evaluation Service. With an ongoing commitment to the highest standards of academic excellence, Westonka is also a technological innovator, taking full advantage of the latest tools in the classrooms and in the administrative sector, tools that include FileMaker Pro database systems.

Overview

  • K–12 public school district serving over 2000 students and their families
  • Based in Mound, MN
  • Approximately 250 employees

Industry

  • K–12 Education

Solutions

  • Scalable FileMaker Pro database system provides cross–platform district–wide access to essential student progress records.

Benefits

  • Information is easily sorted according to any required criteria, providing an instant snapshot of student performance.
  • Web Viewer function will allow integrated, direct access to online references incorporated in student records.
  • The ability of FileMaker Pro to store sound files allows the incorporation of actual performance clips in band students' records.

FileMaker Pro is getting better all the time — I love the new Web Viewer feature. My solution has references that are posted on the net, and what a relief it is to just stay in FileMaker to access those resources!

— Roger Whaley, database developer, Westonka Public School District

Business Challenge

With over 2000 students, 175 teachers, and 100 support staffers spread over four schools, the district might seem small compared to its big–city counterparts. But that doesn't mean the challenge of managing the day to day flow of student information is any less difficult — in fact, it might even be more so, given the demands on staff time and the limited budgets facing a smaller district.

That's where Grandview High School band teacher Roger Whaley thought he could help out. He's a long–time FileMaker Pro enthusiast, using the software for his own projects, and came up with a creative way to use the application to keep his own student information organized, building a solution that stored actual MP3 clips of student performances along with more conventional instructional data. And then the administration realized there might be an even wider use for Roger's idea. "We were swimming in data," he recalls. "We had state tests and local tests, and No Child Left Behind makes these tests very important. I didn't want teachers spending any more time than necessary to understand those scores, so when the principals asked me to help, I said yes. They needed the ability to make a clear and concise report about each student as an individual — try doing that in a spreadsheet!"

Successful Solution

Using his original band–class application as the seed, Roger built a district–wide FileMaker Pro data management solution that allows elaborate and detailed breakdowns of test data by student, by classroom, by school, and district–wide. Roger originally designed the solution in three separate files containing over 2400 records each, but with the recent migration to FileMaker Pro 8.5, he's planning to streamline the system into a single powerful file. Especially vital to the district, which operates on both Macintosh and PC platforms, the application is fully capable of cross–platform operation.

FileMaker Pro may be the most important program on my computer. I'd have a hard time finding a replacement as easy to use. I can build the forms, import the data, and pass it along to the people who need it. I can write scripts and create buttons for repetitive tasks to create a tool thatI's a real time–saver — it's all that easy with FileMaker Pro!

— Roger Whaley, database developer, Westonka Public School District

Customer Benefits

From day one, Roger's solution saved the district the expense of hiring an outside developer, or even a separate internal database specialist — he built the solution himself, and maintains it himself. (In a 2005 survey conducted by Infostructure Associates, a developer for a database system created in Oracle, MySQL or SQL Server would cost between $90K–$100K per project.)

"FileMaker Pro may be the most important program on my computer," he declares. "I'd have a hard time finding a replacement as easy to use. I can build the forms. import the data, and pass it along to the people who need it, I can write scripts and create buttons for repetitive tasks to create a tool that's a real time–saver — it's all that easy with FileMaker Pro! "The advanced features of FileMaker Pro 8.5 figure to make an outstanding application even better, Roger anticipates. "I've always been impressed with the upgrade experience with all the FileMaker products," he notes. "FileMaker Pro is getting better all the time — I love the new Web Viewer feature. My solution has references that are posted on the net, and what a relief it is to just stay in FileMaker to access those resources!"

While most users prefer to view the data directly within the FileMaker Pro environment, the software's Excel Maker feature is a big plus for those who prefer a spreadsheet format. "I do have people who want to study the numbers for themselves," continues Roger, "and they're more comfortable in Excel — so being able to put records into that format is a big bonus."

Easy to develop, and even easier to use, FileMaker Pro 8.5 fills a vital function at Westonka — keeping teachers, administrators, state officials, and parents well–informed on the performance of the most important people of all: the students. "We'll continue to use the tools we've build in FileMaker," Roger concludes, "to improve our teaching — and better understand our pupils."

For FileMaker:

Kevin Mallon
Public Relations Manager
FileMaker Inc.
408-987-7227
kevin_mallon@filemaker.com
http://www.filemaker.com

For Westonka Public School District:

Roger Whaley
Database Administrator
Westonka Public School District
952-491-8338
http://www.westonka.k12.mn.us
whaleyr@westonka.k12.mn.us
roger@rogerwhaley.com