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Posts Tagged ‘Sungard’

DCAS scores vanish again

September 21, 2012 6 comments

This Home Access Center page used to display all past DSTP and DCAS scores. I’m sure it’s just a data loading problem, but they need to get a handle on it soon.

Schools are now staking everything on data-driven decision making driven by DCAS scores. Is this what teachers are seeing too on their Teacher Dashboards?

Come on DDOE data gurus, summer’s over. The kids are back in school and are already taking DCAS tests again. At least put out an explanation so parents aren’t left in the dark (or in this case, in the blank).

UPDATE 9/22: From the Data Warehouse RFP for Education Insight:

Current, operational data (for the current school year) will come from the eSchool Master. This database is a nightly consolidation of the data contained in 43 separate eSchool instances used by Delaware’s school districts and charter schools. Current data will appear to dashboard users exactly as it does in eSchool.

Historic data will be populated from the “cleansed” data in the Insight Data Warehouse.

Hmmm….

HAC attack!

August 29, 2012 3 comments

Home Access Center is out of control! My son has been marked absent for his first two Spanish classes this week – but the schedule they gave him doesn’t even have him taking Spanish this marking period! HAC is apparently either not handling the new block scheduling, or has been handed bad data. I called the school and heard there were other scheduling problems as well.

Then, I just now got a robocall from school telling me my son was absent the whole day yesterday and would I please send in a note? (he wasn’t absent). HAC (eSchoolPLUS) also handles attendance.

Oh, and all the DCAS scores have once again been wiped out.

And it’s too soon to tell if the DOE data gurus have completed their summer homework, which was to fix the HAC usage reporting problem. It’s on my to-do list to find out what’s been done on that front. It would be nice if someone would drop by here and let me know.

Get your head in the game, guys, you’ve had all summer for maintenance and QA!!! Get on the horn with SunGard if necessary, and figure out what’s going on!

By the way, to access HAC log in here. Your new password should have come in a mailer a week or two before school started (at least that’s how it works in Red Clay). If you can’t access HAC, call your school office.

Note: These are my Red Clay centric observations, so let me know if you have a different experience.

And remember why I’m always going on about HAC: Because it’s a parent involvement tool, and deserves more respect!

Data-driven decision making takes a pratfall

April 16, 2012 1 comment

Delaware school districts have launched a groundbreaking and promising plan to promote parent engagement by tracking usage data for one of Delaware’s premier data systems – Sungard’s Home Access Center (part of eSchoolPLUS).

But despite Delaware’s commitment to data-driven decision making, the usage reports available from eSchoolPLUS are not detailed enough to support credible decision making for this plan.

Delaware Department of Education data gurus should be urgently requesting that Sungard upgrade its product to provide these reports, or to provide an interim workaround. In the meantime DDOE should be taking what steps it can to create custom reports that are more detailed. It’s not too late to improve the reports for next year, as long as action is taken this summer.

District plans
In their district success plans, 13 out of 19 districts have committed to increasing the numbers of parents who use the Home Access Center. HAC is the web portal for parents to look up assignments and grades, among other things. It is part of Delaware’s student information system (eSchoolPLUS) provided by Sungard.

The districts are on the right track here, because HAC is a powerful enabler and indicator of parent engagement. The more parents use it, the better. Here’s one quote from the Appoquinimink success plan:

Increased parent use of Home Access system creates awareness and has the potential impact to increase parent expectations for student achievement.

I’ve been advocating for a HAC usage report for some time now. Districts, schools, and parent advocates all stand ready to reach out to families and students to put this valuable tool (HAC) into more hands. With a reliable usage report, we can measure and fine-tune the results of their outreach, and judge the effectiveness of different strategies. The district success plans lay out specific tactics they plan to take to increase parental engagement through HAC. But Sungard does not provide a report for HAC usage.

There is a way for DDOE administrators to create a custom report, but the underlying data infrastructure is so rudimentary the basic report carries very little information and is virtually useless for the district’s purpose.. In my opinion, the inability for a modern web product to properly report its own usage is a defect.

Everybody acknowledges that parent engagement is one of the most important factors for student success. We need to be able to rely on our information systems to support our efforts to promote parent engagement.

The eSchoolPLUS system and HAC are proprietary, and Sungard is unwilling to share details about how the usage reporting mechanism works. I asked about this very thing on Sungard’s public blog. In response, I got an email that informed me Sungard’s policy was not to respond to parents about their products, and my message was forwarded to DDOE. And now, let’s just say discussions with DDOE on usage reports are proceeding slowly.

But I have gathered technical information from a variety of public sources, and have reached some conclusions and some recommendations. What follows is my informed guesswork on the technical details, so if you have any better (verifiable) information please add a comment, or email me at mike01@seventhtype.com.

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