Performance Management

DecisionEd to Add Watson Smarts to K-12 Analytics

Ed tech company DecisionEd was already using IBM technology under the hood of its data and performance management applications for use in school districts. Now it will be tapping IBM's Watson to strengthen its analytics offerings with artificial intelligence.

The DecisionEd service incorporates a SQL Server data warehouse that aggregates data from multiple sources, including student information, assessments, financial records and staff records. The company's dashboards use IBM Cognos Analytics to provide customized views of data for multiple users — school leaders, support staff, teachers, students and parents. Also, IBM SPSS Modeler, a data mining and text analytics program, helps power an "early warning system," that evaluates the data from myriad systems against risk categories, and then applies various data mining techniques to identify students who might be off track or at risk for not graduating.

Next, DecisionEd will build in the use of Watson Analytics to add "learning" to district customers' use of data. According to the company, the insights "will become even more refined as the platform generates a precise picture of 'what's going on' in the district." Watson's capabilities are expected to help schools better understand how various factors influence each other. Plus, because Watson can process English language questions, its addition in the DecisionEd technology could open up the analytics capabilities to a larger group of users within a district.

The company intends to release what it's calling "DecisionSets," prepackaged data that will address specific questions for a given district.

"School districts are working diligently to close achievement gaps and optimize all the resources at their disposal," said DecisionEd Chief Architect Mark Mason, in a prepared statement. "Data is among the most important of those resources, yet few districts can afford to add a full-time data scientist to their staff. Now they can — and its name is Watson."

No timeline has been announced for the release of the integration.

DecisionEd's software has been used by districts in Indiana (Metropolitan School District of Warren Township), Texas (Humble Independent School District) and Alabama (Mobile County Public Schools), other states.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.