Fresno Unified School District Combines Report Cards, Attendance Sheets and More Into A Text

If you throw a tangled bit of prose at Fresno Unified School District’s teachers, they’ll grab it and unpack it into a digestible lesson for their students. Word problems, math problems, science problems, are no problem inside their classrooms. Outside the classroom, there was one lingering problem for FUSD: the parent/teacher portal, an one-stop resource for parents to track how their children are doing in school. In the portal, parents can see their kids grades, attendance, test scores, behavior, and what classes they should enroll in — that’s if they log in to the portal at all. FUSD used Twilio SMS to give parents an easier way of staying in touch with their kids’ academic track record.

As the fourth largest school district in California, FUSD is responsible for over 73,000 students, and the data belonging to each student. Each day at 3:30pm, FUSD sends an SMS blast to all parents registered for their SMS update system. They send texts to over 25,000 numbers with the child’s attendance, and a link to the roll up of the child’s grades as of that day. Parents can also text FUSD’s short code to receive the same roll up text on demand.

Not just anyone can access the student information via text. Parents have to enter their student’s PIN number, assigned to them at the start of the year, to access the confidential academic information.

PaulScottFUSDPaul Scott, as software engineer at FUSD (pictured right), used Twilio’s API to deliver essential student information to parents via Twilio SMS. The proof of concept only took him two days to build, but he knew a district wide rollout would take longer. He needed to show a flawless proof of concept to a principal, superintendent, and CTO. Luckily, all three parties had children in the FUSD school system. To demonstrate the reliability and scalability of his Twilio program, Paul signed all of them up for SMS alerts, so they could see all their childrens’ vital academic information. Sure enough, at 3:30 PM on the dot, they got the text message. Paul’s proof of concept was moved quickly into development.

Paul never considered hiring an outside vendor to build the SMS solution for FUSD. He saw it as short sighted. “Twilio lets us do whatever we want,” says Paul. Now Paul can ensure his bosses, FUSD parents and the entire District that FUSD chose an SMS platform that can scale with their school, and is easily customizable.

FUSD is currently working on building trigger based event notification via SMS for parents. Let’s say your kid’s grade drops suddenly, or there’s an incident at school, you would get a text alerting you of that fact via Twilio. Paul has other solutions in mind to keep parents alert, and keep students accountable for their grades. Learn more by visiting Fresno Unified School District’s site here.