Importing MCAS Long Comp Files

logo_mcasEvery summer, the MCAS Service Center provides the student long compositions (what the students actually wrote!) as PDF files (grades 4, 7, and 10). However, these documents don’t always make it into the hands of teachers and administrators for analysis and review. Only administrators have access to the MCAS Service Center, and downloading the files and making them available to teachers in an organized way has not been easy. Loading these files into the Documents side tab of the student record in Aspen provides a history of a student’s writing, and makes the documents easily accessible to the educators who work with that student. Keep reading to see how you can load these files into your district’s Aspen database.

Continue reading

Add Color to Your Fields

Color CodesAre there some values that are stored on the student table (or any table) that you would like to stand out? You can add color to your field backgrounds or text. To accomplish this you create a Data Dictionary extension that can be assigned to the reference tables you want to add color to.

Continue reading

XML Imports: Insert. Update. Replace?

xml-to-dbAnyone who has worked with XML-based imports in Aspen knows there are two modes: insert and update. Well, technically there are three modes – both is a hybrid of insert and update. The mode determines how the import handles records in the source data file. However, I needed another option for importing medical alerts. Hanover maintains medical data, including alerts, in HealthOffice. Every night, we want to import the medical alerts from HealthOffice and completely replace the existing medical alerts data in Aspen. Insert and/or update modes wouldn’t work because an alert that was deleted in HealthOffice wouldn’t appear in the data file – there was no way to tell Aspen to remove it! To solve this problem we created a new import mode: replace. Keep reading to see how replace mode works and how you can use it in your own imports.

Continue reading

Tracking Community Service

hps-habitat-for-humanity-2014-09-20Hanover High School recently updated its graduation requirements to include a community service component. Starting this year, every high school student must log 10 hours of community service each year from grades 9 through 12 in order to graduate. As the school year progressed and students started submitting paper forms for their service hours we knew we needed something better than a spreadsheet to track the data. After some basic configuration, a few small customizations, and one workflow we were able to enter, view, and summarize the community service data all from Aspen. Keep reading to learn how we got all this up and and running.

Continue reading

Saving Report Cards to Student Documents

document-managementIn Plymouth, at the end of the year, our schools print all of the students’ report cards and then file them away as an official copy. There are times when this system gets a little messy and we were noticing some of the following issues:

  • Because each school was responsible for printing these instead of one administrator, there was a possibility that the report cards were being printed at different times with different inputs
  • All of these copies were stored in different locations (at each school)
  • It was difficult for users to find these copies when needed

Of course you could run a report card for a previous school year and get the results right from Aspen. However, depending on the fields being displayed on the report card, some of the values may no longer be what they were (for example, homerooms and grade levels). We needed a better solution. Keep reading to see what we did.

Continue reading

SSH Multi-File Transfer Procedure

ssh-multi-file-transferLike most Aspen districts, we have several external systems that we regularly need to send files to for various student information.  State reporting, messaging systems, assessment systems, and nutrition systems to name a few.  The standard way to accomplish this in Aspen is:

  1. Create a job that executes the export to generate the data file
  2. Create a job that executes the SSH File Transfer Procedure to send that file

While this works, often times you are exporting multiple files to the same site at roughly the same time, and it would be much easier to export all the files and then send them all together with a single transfer job. For example, if you are using a messaging system to send absence notifications, you might have all your elementary schools sending at 9:00 am. Scheduling an export job for each elementary and a single SSH file transfer would be easier.

Continue reading

Unique Contact Emergency Priorities

OpeningAre you having trouble keeping contacts in order? Do you find individual students wind up with a number of contacts with a priority of 1 or 0? Use Aspen functionality to force priorities to be unique.

Each contact should have a unique Emergency Priority, but Aspen will allow you to enter the same value multiple times. This can result in the system returning an unexpected result when a report, export, or field set is set to display the higher priority contact.

You can leverage the User Unique Fields option on the details of a data table to require each contact to have a unique Emergency Priority.

Continue reading

XML Exports with a Little Help from Java

Java & XML

The other day I was working on a new export for Blackboard Connect when I ran into a common problem: of the fourteen fields I needed to export, one of them had special logic that couldn’t be handled via the XML definition. Ugh! That meant I was going to have to convert the entire export to Java. Or so I thought until a little lightbulb went off. Read on to learn how you can use this tip to save yourself from writing an entire export with Java.

Continue reading

Class Lists – More Than Just Rosters

rosterThe default “Class Lists” report in Aspen displays the roster of students for each section in the master schedule. Definitely useful but somewhat boring. Fortunately there is plenty of potential for this report, especially with the first day of school upon us (or already past in many cases!). Keep reading for a couple of quick customizations you can add to the “Class Lists” report for your district.

Continue reading