November 2012 saw the release of the new Exam Graphs in SIMS Discover. Unlike graphs based on a school’s assessment data (which need to be created individually by each school) these exam graphs work straight out of the box – you don’t need to do anything to set them up other than to install the latest version of Discover.

Strategically, this is an important new release for SIMS Discover. For the first time many schools will have access to a top-end, flexible, whole-school analysis tool. Remember that Discover is available as part of each schools basic SIMS license, so there are no extra licensing costs (although some schools may have to invest in some, relatively inexpensive, extra hardware).

Once schools have the Exams graphs up and running, I expect a lot more interest in using SIMS Discover to graphs term by term assessments which so far has been slow to take off, mainly due to the lengthy development process required to create the graphs (and also, to some extent, the sheer newness of the software).

So get in contact with your technical support staff and local SIMS support unit. Ask them to make sure you have the latest version of SIMS installed (7.148 as of November 2012) and install the November version of SIMS Discover on both your server and on your workstation. If you intend to create any of your own graphs you’ll also need to make sure they give you access to something called the ‘SIMS Discover Configuration Utility’.

Yes, SIMS Discover does run slowly on some older PCs. However it has been difficult to predict which older PCs will be capable of running Discover, and which will not, so the best advice is just to try it. Many older PCs can be made to run Discover perfectly well by installing extra RAM (cheap) or a dedicated graphics card (£30).

I’ll highlight the new graphs and their potential uses in future articles.