Sunday, March 18, 2007

Un-Informed Practice: Technology

Mayor Mike got a technology award in education. Too bad it has nothing to do with kids using technology. It's being spent on ARIS for a cool $80 million. Maybe rthe award came from IBM, the designer of ARIS. The image (including Mike in his award announcement) shows the typical portal interface of the uninspiring practice used by the current DOE tech elite. ( Here's a comment from my favorite ed blogger in nyc about ARIS
Shrink-Wrapped Millions: Why Klein Won?t Help Johnny Read
March 7th, 2007 ·
With great fanfare the Department announced an 80 million dollar contract with IBM to create a database of pupil achievement information called ARIS (Achievement Reporting and Innovation System). Tweeds avers the system will ?help schools analyze, report and manage information about student and school performance.?
Klein and Company have spent almost a year hawking a new School Progress Report, a system to rank schools and assign them grades. I was curious: how are the powers going to calculate the score that will determine the progress of schools.
Transparency is vital, if this system is going to be meaningful to parents, to teachers and supervisors it is essential that they understand the calculations. The following is the final section of a longer document explaining the new system:
Total Scores are calculated by weighting the values of the Proximity to City Horizon (x1) and Proximity to Peer Horizon (x2) measures for School Environment, Student Performance and Student Progress. As these weightings indicate, Proximity to Peer Horizon counts twice as much as Proximity to City Horizon. These weighted values are then averaged to create scores for School Environment, Student Performance and Student Progress. The school?s Weighted Total Score (excluding additional credit for Exemplary Student Progress) is a weighted average of School Environment (weighted 15%), Student Performance (30%) and Student Progress (55%).
Additional recognition for schools obtaining Exemplary Student Progress as defined above is then added to the overall index using the following formula: .03 is added for each qualifying population as to which the percentage of students making exemplary gains is in the top 20% of all schools within the City and .015 is added for each qualifying population as to which the percentage of students as to which percentage of students making exemplary gains is in the top 40% of all schools in the City. A school?s Weighted Total Score Plus Additional Credit is determined by adding these additional potential points, if any are awarded, to the Weighted Total Score.
Nothing like a simple transparent system that will allow the parents, school staffs and the public to readily view and understand school progress.
If I remember correctly the School Progress Report system will cost 25 million dollars to develop and implement.
Now the Department is passing out another 80 million ? sounds a little like Richard Bremer?s testimony before a congressional committee describing the necessity to ship over a hundred tons of hundred dollar bills, packaged in plastic shrink-wrap to Bagdad to pay whomever ?
Do we really need an 80 million dollar system to tell us why Johnny can?t read?
I asked a few teachers why kids are struggling in school, clearly anecdotal and without the aid of Alavarez and Marsal Consultants:
?He?s a Blood and only stays in school to recruit.?
?She takes care of younger brothers and sisters ??
?He works at night and can?t stay awake in class.?
Do you think the ARIS System will help these kids?
Now fair reader I have confidence in your ability, so, a little contest:
Given that the Department has 80 million bucks to spend: how would you spend it?
Never can tell - maybe the powers that be will reach down and snatch up you and your idea ? although I wouldn?t quit my day job.

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