An e-mail sent to Timber Creek families and staff has detailed the technical and logistical headaches that led to many scheduling issues in the early part of the 2020-2021 school year.
The letter from Keller ISD Area Superintendent, Dr. Leanne Shivers, and President of Aeries, Brent Lloyd, discussed the issues faced by the new student information system as scheduling was being worked on in the first weeks of the school year.
UPDATE: A second letter from Shivers and Lloyd detailed a specific bug in Aeries that was preventing adjusted schedules from being saved. The letter was e-mailed to families at 3:10 p.m. on Sept. 10, 2020. See the full letter below:
Timber Creek High School Families and Employees,
Following up on Wednesday’s update about our ongoing student scheduling issues, we wanted to let you know about the progress that has been made over the last day.
Technicians from Cisco were on site this week to identify any potential issues with Keller ISD’s network performance, and they have determined that there are no problems with network connectivity or access to the internet.
Aeries was able to identify a bug in the system yesterday that was preventing schedules from saving properly. Please see additional details below directly from Aeries President Brent Lloyd:
My three Aeries Software staff teammates and I have made considerable progress working through student schedule complications with the Timber Creek staff over the past three days.
There have been issues reported by counselors while adjusting incomplete schedules for students within Aeries Student Information System (SIS). Some of the previous problems identified were resolved, as documented in the prior email shared with the Timber Creek community. One issue that was causing much frustration had to do with counselors intermittently being unable to save changes made to individual student class schedules. With the Keller ISD network team, Keller’s network consulting team, and the Aeries Software team investigating this reported issue further, we were finally able to identify what was causing this anomaly. An update was released and applied to the Aeries SIS last night to permanently fix the glitch.
I am confident that the Timber Creek staff has the tools and knowledge they need to resolve any remaining incomplete student schedules. I would also like to reiterate my observations of how committed and positive the TCHS and Keller ISD staff members have been as they work through the complexities of the new school year during this pandemic.
With these issues identified and fixed, counselors are working diligently to complete schedules. We are still waiting to observe a 48-hour period with the system functioning properly to make sure all issues are addressed, but it appears that we are headed in that direction. We are optimistic about the progress that has been made, and we know that having addressed these issues will put us in a better position to manage any changes that need to occur at the end of the first nine-week grading period.
Thank you again for your continued patience and for your support of the Timber Creek faculty and staff as they have fought through these technical challenges.
Dr. Leanne Shivers
Keller ISD Falcon Family Schools
Here is the original letter, as was sent to the Timber Creek community around 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 9, 2020.
Timber Creek High School Families and Staff,
As many of you are aware, Timber Creek has continued to experience issues related to the accuracy of student schedules. We shared with families last week that representatives from Aeries – Keller ISD’s new student information system – and the KISD Technology Department would be on campus until these issues have been resolved, and that continues to be the case. Campus staff members have worked with Aeries and KISD Technology since the beginning of school as additional technical issues continue to arise.
Please know, these issues are not the fault of work performed by anyone on the campus, including the TCHS administrative team and TCHS counselors. These issues are multi-tiered, but primarily programming-related. Typical issues we have experienced include having a student’s schedule correct in the system, only for it to appear changed the next day without anyone having requested or input changes.
Please see the following message from the President of Aeries:
Dear Timber Creek High School Community,
As the new school year has begun for students throughout Keller Independent School District, many students have experienced considerable setbacks with their schedules.
As you are probably aware by now, Keller ISD has adopted a new Student Information System (SIS) for the 2020-2021 school year, Aeries SIS. As President of Aeries Software, I would like to extend my sincere apologies for those negatively impacted thus far. The Aeries Software and Keller ISD have been working together over the past couple years preparing for the switchover that occurred this summer. As you can imagine, changing a large enterprise system that affects just about every member of a school community is no small undertaking. Learning the workings of a new system, while navigating the unknowns of the pandemic, including remote and in-person scenarios, has led to quite a bit of disruption.
Last week, one of our adept staff members was onsite assisting Timber Creek HS counselors and other Keller ISD staff with continued scheduling revisions. This week, four Aeries staff members are onsite at Timber Creek, including myself. We are here to see these issues through to complete resolution.
Aeries SIS is a student data management system used successfully by thousands of schools representing nearly 3 million students for over 25 years now. Aeries Software believes in the importance of establishing a strong relationship with the schools using its software and working together to promote student success above all else.
In the interest of transparency, while working through these matters, there have been a few faults within the Aeries system that have been identified and quickly resolved by Aeries Software. Here are some of the issues identified:
- Friday, August 28-Sunday, August 30: While working to make scheduling adjustments within Aeries SIS, Timber Creek HS counselors experienced a situation where changes were either not saving properly, or seemed to have reverted.
- Wednesday, September 2, early evening: The schedules for most in-person students were stable and accurate, while remote students needed their most up-to-date course requests applied in the Aeries scheduler to produce new individual student schedules. Prior to the process being run, only 25 percent of remote schedules had complete schedules, while the process itself resulted in a massive increase to 85 percent of remote students with complete schedules. In-person student schedules were specifically locked with the intention of not being altered during this process. However, over the subsequent days, it was identified that some in-person student schedules were inadvertently affected. This could have been caused by a variety of reasons. We continue to conduct research to determine the exact cause.
- Thursday, September 3, overnight: Within the Master Schedule and Scheduling Master, the copy function was not working properly on slow networks, which had to be resolved. Also, the insert button was disabled, following a copy action, until the user clicks on a different field. The section staff was not getting copied to the new section when copying a section, and that was fixed as well. Prior to this release, there were reports that changes made within Aeries were not being properly saved, which was identified due to slow network speeds while interacting with the Aeries system.
- Monday, September 7, overnight: Master Schedule and Scheduling Master – These pages had the potential to overwrite a newly added section when multiple users are adding sections at the same time in a school, fixed. Previous to this release, there were reports that two counselors making changes to the Aeries schedule at the same time overwrote one another.
Some of these problems identified have been caused by the Aeries system, as documented above, and some have been traced to local network configurations or internet speed.
The Timber Creek HS and Keller ISD staff overall have shown tremendous resolve and, above all else, proven their commitment to student success by continuing to work through resolving student schedule issues throughout the start of the school year. We look forward to solving all of these problems with our dedicated staff here this week.
At your service,
Concerns over attendance and grades, due to course changes, have also been brought forward. Attendance impacted by the change of a schedule will not count towards compulsory attendance for a student. Additionally, student grades will not be negatively impacted.
We know these issues have caused tremendous frustration for many students, families, and employees as we have started the school year, but we continue to press to get this resolved as quickly as possible. Our goal right now is to observe a 48-hour period in which no unrequested changes are made to student schedules so that we can confirm issues have been resolved. Until that time, we plan to provide you with frequent updates on the progress of the situation.
While we understand this is not the start of the school year that any of us anticipated or hoped for, we appreciate your continued patience and support as we work through what has become a multilayered technical issue.
Dr. Leanne Shivers
Falcon Family Schools