Agora Cyber Charter School

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Education Enhanced with Microsoft Expertise

Agora is a leading PA public cyber school that delivers personalized learning experiences to the homes of its students and families. The growing institution serves over 7,000 students in grades K-12 and about 700 staff members. They provide students with the opportunity to engage in a personalized, innovative, intensive academic preparation that inspires and educates them to achieve their high level of academic knowledge and skill.
Agora Cyber Charter School

Challenges

Agora believes in the old proverb “it takes a village to raise a child.”  But they also know that this goes beyond just the parental and teacher involvement.  It is important for them to provide the tools and services that students, parents, and teachers need to succeed. 

In recent years, Agora realized the need to improve the student-teacher experience, and to increase operational efficiency.  As a cyber school, success is heavily rooted in the institution’s use and delivery of technology.  To that end, Agora identified a need to stabilize, modernize, and centralize its use of technology. 

The challenges faced by Agora were not unusual to schools.  There were two specific projects that presented a challenge for the school.  First, they were looking to migrate from their old student information system to a new system provided by another vendor.  Agora identified several key business processes from the old system that could not be replicated in the new system in a cost-effective manner. 

Secondly, the school used a homegrown portal for tracking and maintenance of student State Testing.  Unfortunately, the “technical owner” of knowledge for this portal is no longer with Agora, which represented a significant risk.  The school was interested in improving the functionality of the solution through automation, extend the solution to additional operating units, and align the technology stack with the rest of their applications. 

Solutions

One of the first strategic decision Agora made was to focus on the Microsoft ecosystem as the technical vehicle that would drive the organization forward.  They needed to bring in a partner with current and deep expertise in the Microsoft ecosystem to provide guidance and ensure best practices.  Enter Weidenhammer.  As a Microsoft Gold Partner, and with more than 40 years experience working with school districts nationwide, Weidenhammer was the perfect match. 

Weidenhammer assisted with Agora’s solution development and integration efforts within the Microsoft Office 365, Power Platform, and Azure ecosystem. With a focus on Agora’s goals of improving the student-teacher experience and increasing operational efficiency, the Microsoft technology stack and Weidenhammer’s solutions have also provided the reliability and scalability needed for the school to continue to evolve and grow. 

To address the challenge of Agora moving to a new student information system and providing improved business processes, Weidenhammer implemented a series of solutions via the Microsoft Power Platform which integrated with Agora’s Office 365 tenant.  In addition, connected data sources included Azure SQL Server, Azure Table Storage, and SharePoint Lists.   

Addressing the challenge of replacing the homegrown portal for State test tracking, Weidenhammer moved the State test tracking functionality, workflows, business rules, and reports to a new modern Microsoft stack solution based in Azure. 

Results

Weidenhammer has taken the lead in helping Agora to better understand and make use of the Microsoft Power Platform and associated tools, including: Power BI, Teams, PowerApps, Power Automate, SharePoint Online Modern Sites, Delve, Azure hosted applications / resources / services, and more. 

Results included: 

  • Overall, Agora gained high performing, scalable, maintainable, and future-proof solutions, designed to evolve with the organization as it grows. 
  • Improved business processes and data integrity related to the data and functionality of the new Student Information System. 
  • Improved workflow, data management, and collaboration by moving the State Test Tracking to Azure. 

Weidenhammer is an instrumental component of Agora Cyber Charter School’s development into a Microsoft centric organization.  As our go-to developer and consultant, Weidenhammer has been key to our ability to meet seen and unforeseen demands placed upon our organization as they occur.

 – Mike Rublesky, Chief Technology Officer – Agora Cyber Charter School