Alabama District Taps IBM for Student Data System

In an effort to develop new data systems that will help it track student outcomes and adjust students' educational programs based on their needs, Mobile County Public Schools in Alabama has tapped IBM to deliver analytics technologies to replace its legacy reporting system.

For the effort, Mobile County Public Schools will roll out the new technologies to about 5,000 teachers, administrators, and other staff with help from DecisionEd Group, an IBM partner. According to IBM, they'll be able to access reports via customizable dashboards, allowing them to measure performance and "monitor the entire academic lifecycle of each student, including class attendance, grades, and any special educational requirements. With information in hand, teachers can then tap into the school district's Teacher Resource for Instructional Planning (TRIP) Web site, access special lesson plans and individualize instruction according to each student's needs, while still protecting confidentiality."

With these tools, along with automated "early warning" notification capabilities, the district will be able to monitor and intervene in the cases of students who appear to be at risk of dropping out. (The legacy system produced only quarterly reports; the new system will provide information immediately and generate notifications when certain thresholds are reached, such as too many days absent or grades reaching a certain level.)

"Mobile County Public Schools has an important mandate to fulfill--one that plays a critical role in the development of every student in our school system," said David K. Akridge, executive manager of information technology services at Mobile County Public Schools, in a statement released this week. "To ensure that each student learns to high standards, we needed a smart system in place where we could easily access and share real-time student information and identify where we are successful, and where we are not meeting the needs of our students. Through invaluable information insights delivered by IBM technology, we move closer to fulfilling our mission of graduating citizens who are prepared with the skills they need for the 21st century. IBM gives us the capabilities we will need to quickly monitor funding effectiveness, track individual programs against key performance indicators, adjust plans accordingly to ensure optimal delivery, and deliver detailed reports up the chain, showing progress and successes to date."

Mobile County Public Schools serves more than 63,000 students in 95 schools.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

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