Thursday, February 28, 2008

Poor ARIS, Joel Klein's (And Mike Bloomberg's) $80 Million White Elephant. Getting Trashed All Over The Place.

video
A hat tip to Norm Scott's great education and politics' blog ednotes for capturing the essence of this story. I sort of captured another essence of it from youtube (an elephantine data dump similar to aris')
Also Gary Babad has his usual brilliant a satire over at nycpublic schoolparents
from ednotes

(Many years ago I said that one day Joel Klein would be taken out of Tweed with his coat over his head – I half expected to see him among the Gambino Family crowd. Maybe he will be joined by Chief Accountability Officer Jim Liebman
I attended a press conference a few years ago when Klein announced how data would be accumulated for teachers to use. Based on my knowledge of the state of computer access in schools (which has suffered severe deterioration under BloomKlein) and the state of available time available during the school day for teachers to check such data (which has also suffered severe deterioration under BloomKlein) I raised this issue with Klein:
"The reality on the ground, is that teachers will not be able to access all this other than on their own time at home, and that is just not real." Klein just shucked the question off (I guess he figured threats to send teachers to the rubber room for not burning the midnight oil at home checking the ARIS data would suffice.)
Shame on the NYC press corps for ignoring this issue.
ARIS has also been taking hits from the pros. When the system was announced a year ago, the called it an $80 million super mugging.
Ah, the sweet smell of a swindle. Don't you just hate it when consulting companies cajole deals with hand-wringing about technology and, especially, preying on clients' lack of expertise?
Teachers are underpaid, hardly appreciated, and overworked. I can only wonder what the half-life is of a system that asks teachers to log on to get information delivered by the "chief accountability officer."

About a year ago I took a swipe at the “$80 million supercomputer to analyze NYC student achievement.” It smelled more like a super sales job than a super useful analytical tool.
At the time I had said:
Teachers are underpaid, hardly appreciated, and overworked. I can only wonder what the half-life is of a system that asks teachers to log on to get information delivered by the “chief accountability officer.”
Well, it appears that things haven’t gone that smoothly with the supercomputer. Today I received a link from Leonie Haimson, a NYC education advocate, to a story entitled SCHOOLS COMPUTER AN $80M ‘DISASTER’.
Not only has the supercomputer struggled to gain much traction with users (“The school system’s new $80 million computer super system to track student performance has been a super debacle, teachers and principals say.”), it has coincided with severe budget cuts.
We see these data warehousing problems all the time with our clients, and the NYC supercomputer displays all the hallmarks:
* Delivery delays: Nearly six months after the Department of Education unveiled the “first of its kind” data-management system, the city’s 80,000 teachers have yet to log on because of glitches and delays.
* Bad user experience: Many principals have complained that it runs slowly, lacks vital information, and is often too frustrating to use.
* Complicated training and set-up: School officials were hoping to have everyone hooked up and trained within months…delays in creating IDs and passwords for teachers
* Trying to do too much; delivering too little: The principal added that she preferred to get student information from a combination of old data systems “rather than wait for ARIS to churn and churn and churn and maybe give me half the report I need.”
* Massive cost: Complaints about the expensive system - on which nearly $35 million has been spent so far - have gotten louder since the city unceremoniously chopped $100 million from individual school budgets last month.
* And yet, few success anecdotes to justify the investment: ARIS had already enabled her data team to analyze the performance trends of the school’s many English-language learners.
It does offer one thing that I haven’t seen before: a Chief Accountability Officer.

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