Ann Arbor schools approve $130K for new student assessment data technology
The Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education approved allocating nearly $130,630 in Title 2 grant funds to purchase equipment for implementing a new data software system district wide.
In March, AAPS launched a Data Director pilot program at six schools based on an interest survey. Data Director is a computer software that allows teachers, administrators and central office personnel to exercise more control over how student assessment data is collected and accessed for the development of personalized learning plans, said Superintendent Patricia Green.
Allocating the funds necessary for expanding the program was approved at the Board of Education meeting on Aug. 1.
Deputy Superintendent for Instruction Alesia Flye said some one-time money through Title 2 became available for the district to make this purchase, which largely will go toward buying PCs, scanners and hard drives for the software to run on. The grant money will allow the district to set up 72 scanning stations throughout the schools for using the data software.
Data Director provides all the tools needed to analyze state and local student assessment data in one place, Flye said. She explained teachers can scan the bubble sheets from their tests and quizzes into Data Director (which essentially is a large data warehouse) at one of the 72 scanning stations.
The software gives teachers, principals and the district’s research department immediate access to the results of those assessments and eliminates the need for central office staff to manually enter the data or to compile it.
Results from the Michigan Merit Exam, Michigan Educational Assessment Program, Northwest Evaluation Association and tests developed by Ann Arbor classroom teachers will all be housed in the same location.
“Teachers won’t have to wait to get any (reports) from any other department. They can see and compare scores for individual students instantly,” Flye said.
“We have a serious need to broaden our reach and to analyze data, collect data and disseminate data more effectively,” Green added. “As part of our discipline gap and achievement gap elimination plans — this is at the center of it. And for student profiles and the personalized learning pieces we would like to do teachers and principals have to have better access to data to interpret data much better than they are now.”
Green said teachers will be able to see individual student trends whenever an issue with a child arises and develop strategies for tailored curriculum to assist the student and correct the achievement problem.
There will be some teacher and administrator training needed in order for staff to effectively analyze data, Flye said, but added the scanning stations and software itself are user-friendly.
The software and scanners do only operate on PCs and Windows, however, hence the need for the equipment purchases. As part of the technology bond that was passed in May, AAPS will be purchasing hundreds of new Apple computers, which won’t run the software.
But Flye said accessing and manipulating the data won’t be affected by hardware incompatibilities. The scanners are what must be run on a PC, she said.
Trustee Glenn Nelson asked what the difference is between Data Director and PowerSchool and why there was a need for both.
Flye said Data Director purely is for internal instructional data, whereas PowerSchool houses demographic data, attendance stats, class information and grades for parents to access.