December 21, 2021
Originally Posted: https://www.northcountrynow.com/news/massena-central-school-introduces-raider-allhere-chatbot-0311771
MASSENA — The Massena Central School District recently introduced a new member of its team: “Raider.”
Named after the district’s mascot, Raider is a chatbot developed by AllHere, a leading provider of 24/7 support for families in K-12 schools. AllHere combines evidence-based intervention strategies with a behaviorally intelligent chatbot to drive student attendance, engagement, and academic success.
“We created Raider with AllHere to help families in our district adjust to a near constant state of change during the pandemic,” said Kristin Colarusso-Martin, MCSD’s Community Schools Director. “Parents love how it enables a two-way conversation with their school and district on their own terms, on their own time.”
Introduced as a “Siri” for schools, Raider pushes personalized reminders and relevant information to parents on a weekly basis via text messages and also responds to their questions and concerns within seconds—whether at night or on the weekends. A parent support team is on standby to assist with more complex inquiries and can escalate to school staff members when needed.
Raider helps MCSD scale equitable, 24/7 support for all families in the district as they navigate another school year in the midst of a global pandemic, which is taking a rising toll on learning progress, mental health, and overall student well-being.
Examples of how the school district uses Raider to stay connected with families include the following:
• Raider keeps parents informed about evolving safety measures for COVID-19, including informing them about the recent availability of vaccination clinics for 5- to 11-year-olds.
• In the spring and summer, Raider fueled a spike in sign-ups for district-level initiatives to address learning loss including a college-tutoring program and a summer camp series.
• Families who have concerns about their student’s emotional well-being can reach out via text to ask for support and access to resources. Often, parents say they’re surprised by the quick turnaround times when the chatbot escalates to an in-person response.
• Parents who don’t have the workplace flexibility to call the school during business hours are able to text questions to Raider when it’s convenient for them.
Massena tested AllHere’s technology in a grant-supported, 6.5-week trial during the 2020-21 school year. Based on the successful trial, Massena adopted AllHere’s chatbot on a district-wide basis in the fall of 2021.
In the first two months of the 2021-22 school year alone, Raider sent 46,580 messages and was able to respond to 96% of questions that families texted within approximately 45 seconds. The chatbot saved nearly 1,200 hours of staff time, equating to almost $50,000 in taxpayer dollars that would have gone to hiring additional staff to handle routine questions from families.
“Raider has become a key tool for getting our top line priorities communicated to families,” said Patrick Brady, MCSD’s Superintendent. “When students returned to classrooms in August this year, we saw higher levels of stress and anxiety. On top of hiring more counselors and mental health professionals, we’re using the chatbot to send simple messages checking in how families are doing, letting them know we’re here for them.”
Looking ahead, Massena will partner with AllHere to grow Raider’s capabilities to support two-way communication with families in order to drive outcomes such as attendance, enrollments, student health, and many more new student success initiatives.