Blackbaud to Whipple Hill and back again.
JT Amirault | TrustRadius Reviewer
December 13, 2018

Blackbaud to Whipple Hill and back again.

Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Overall Satisfaction with Blackbaud Education Management Solutions (formerly Blackbaud K–12 “ON” Solutions)

Blackbaud Education Management Solutions is used campus-wide as our primary solution for managing student information, learning management, admission/enrollment, public website, and athletics/extra-curricular, advancement, conduct, and accounting. Teachers post and students access class materials, assignments, assessments, grades, and schedules; teachers record class attendance, communicate with students and parents, view student progress and permissions/clearances for extracurricular activities; parents view student info, progress/report cards, and submit online forms. Grades and attendance data fuel program to determine and support at-risk students and eligibility for extra-curricular activities. Data also drives review of gender-based performance differences and classroom space utilization. Off-campus tutors access course information to keep in sync with on-campus classes. Resources are posted such as information sheets, how-to videos, school and area resource links, calendars, etc. Athletic teams, games and practice schedules, and results are managed. A school store sells logo'd products. Event registration and online giving is utilized. Parents, students, and employees access the authenticated area of the site while all the public-at-large access the front-face website. Tight integration with G-Suite augments Blackbaud and enhances collaboration.
  • Classroom management of rosters, assignments/assessment, and grading at a class grade book level and grades for report cards. The grading function is flexible in terms of how a teacher might manage their class grade book and support consistency for rolling up grades for report cards.
  • "Pushpage" communications to constituents is a powerful tool for targeted messages and for tracking results of messages read, bounced, opt-out, and clicked through.
  • In attendance management, there is a nice feature to alert parents and staff when a student reaches a threshold for number of times tardy. It is difficult to do the same for absences ... we have a policy that when a student reaches a threshold of number of classes absent, their grade starts getting reduced for each additional absence. This is hard to track at a class level ... 5 absences could be 1 day out missing 5 different classes or it could be across multiple days and be 5 misses of the same class.
  • Online forms have good basic functions, however, additional formatting control and ability to include/merge more data from student records would greatly add value.
  • All teachers use the grade book and report card grading functions. This is a big positive for teacher time as well as for administration.
  • Online course materials, assignments, and assessments have help reduced paper usage.
  • Operational efficiency
  • Advanced automation
  • Improved insights
  • Improved internal and external communications
  • A connected school solution
The solution has contributed to progress towards these outcomes. Operational efficiencies across the board have come from all teachers using the grading functions. Advanced automation ... well, we can debate about "advanced", but, threshold triggered notices relating to tardies has automated parent and advisor visibility to these situations. Data extractions have improved insight to gender-based performance differences and informed space utilization studies feeding a new facilities project.
We have not benefited from integration with Raisers Edge and Financial Edge. We do use both these other products and use simply export / import functions - not true integration.
I am generally quite pleased with support so I give it a 8 - really hard to get a a top score from me. I find the support online chat to be most useful ... generally short queue times and always good support reps. This rating is for the support operation. Expanding beyond the support operations and reps, I me somewhat less satisfied with the responses ... "... not supported ...". The support department organization often completely resolves my need. But, despite quick and professional support, I may still have an unmet need.
The function of creating an application has the all the basics, however, there is not enough flexibility to make really good, concise, clear application forms. For example, it is very difficult to get good family information when parents there are two separate households involved. Some custom fields on the application form are not accessible in any other way than viewing a PDF copy of the form. There is room for tighter integration between the application form and the checklist functions. For example, it would be very valuable to be able to conditionally include or exclude checklist steps based upon data supplied on the application form.
8 is a very good rating from me. This module is really at the core of our usage of this system. The centralization of class resources, assignments, and assessments creates nice consistent experience for students while also allowing for flexibility for teachers. 750+ student, 100+ teacher ... good usage observed and very little support required. Google integration is a strong addition to the environment.
Good. More reporting (which, admittedly, has been evolving in strong fashion) is always needed. From an admin side, it can be a bit of a challenge to get just the slice of information needed for any given circumstance. Trust in the system is fairly high. But, to be able to prove that transcripts, report cards, and accolades are in order takes digging. From a teacher, student, and parent view, things are great. Grade entry is easy. Grades viewing for students and parents is convenient and access control is useful.
Maybe this is a talent pool issue for my school, but, onMessage requires regular hand-holding for communications folk and support calls to help get the desired look and feel. More flexibility and more user manageable control could improve this as could more how-to / knowledge base information. Pushpage bulk messaging function is strong.
Tough question ... direct experience at two schools demonstrate this is well suited to private prep schools. It is not clear to be in which schools it would be less appropriate. Perhaps, a school without a 1-1 tech program would find less value as this is all about the online experience.

Using Blackbaud Education Management Solutions (formerly Blackbaud K–12 “ON” Solutions)

2100 - Students = 760
Teachers = 78
Staff = 50 (primarily: business office = 3, advancement = 6, enrollment = 4, counseling = 7, admin = 10)
Parents = 1200
2 - Beyond the obvious strong general computer skills ... A strong data skillset is valuable for integration support and for extracting / reporting beyond canned reports and lists. People skills ... have to work with the users. Big picture skills ... support often comes at an individual level, but, a view of the big picture and interdependencies of process and information is valuable.
  • Learning management
  • Sharing of specialized student support plans (IEP, 504) with teachers.
  • Website public/frontend
  • Support for CARS (Care for At Risk Students) helping to highlight students with low academic performance to target additional student services.
  • Extra curricular eligibility ... gradebook data feeds a dashboard highlighting students at risk of becoming ineligible due to poor grades.
  • Space (buildings/rooms) utilization data is being used to inform planning for a new facility design.
  • Expand to include alumni
  • Take advantage of new admission event scheduling (prospects self help to available visit schedule slots)
Meeting our needs. No gaping holes motivating need for change.