CATEGORY: Business Intelligence
REVIEWER: Karl Beach, operations director for Infinite Campus, Inc.
BACKGROUND: Infinite Campus, Inc. is a Minnesota-based provider of advanced education process management tools for schools and school districts. The Infinite Campus EPMS is an enterprise-wide application that gathers and manages all forms of educational data - everything from demographic data, class schedules and attendance records to test data and special education documents.
PLATFORMS: The Infinite Campus EPMS is a completely Web-based system that is built upon an enterprise-wide relational database. Educators, parents and students can securely access information via a wide variety of computers (e.g., Windows, Macintosh and Linux), browsers (e.g., Internet Explorer and Netscape) and devices (e.g., computers, telephones and pagers). The fully integrated Infinite Campus EPMS completely replaces the patchwork of incompatible "best-of-breed" record-keeping applications that are the norm in most American school districts.
PROBLEM SOLVED: With the passage of President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in 2001 -- which requires educators to measure student progress and provide school and district-wide performance data by race, ethnicity, gender, language proficiency, migrant status, disability status and family income - Infinite Campus needed an OLAP reporting and analysis solution. It had to be fully Web-based and seamlessly integrate with the Infinite Campus EPMS. It also had to be easy for educators to use and something that school districts could afford. Databeacon worked with Infinite Campus to create a per-student pricing structure that allowed Databeacon tools to be licensed along with the Infinite Campus EPMS according to the existing fee structure. Under the partnership arrangement, Infinite Campus builds and provides a set of NCLB data views and reports (built in a multidimensional OLAP data cube format) that are populated dynamically with real-time student data. Districts that wish to build their own data cubes or use Databeacon reporting and analysis for other areas of their operation (e.g., finance and human resources) have the option of purchasing a full license directly from Databeacon.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Infinite Campus launched a pilot program in early 2003. This was followed by a full Databeacon rollout at the beginning of the 2003/04 school year. Users in the pilot program (mostly principals, teachers and district administrators with little IT knowledge and no previous data analysis experience) report that the Databeacon application is intuitively easy to use and requires little or no formal training. Generating NCLB "report cards" for parents is a simple matter of a few mouse clicks and a bit of dragging and dropping. Educators are already beginning to use Databeacon's self-serve reporting and analysis to identify academically at-risk students, apply best practices across entire school districts, and tailor schedules and curricula to the specific needs of individual children.
STRENGTHS: In addition to being intuitive and easy to use, Databeacon is a very reliable system. These strengths allow educators to take it for granted, which is exactly what Infinite Campus wants. With the proper security profile, a user can drill all the way down to an individual student and then bring up detail information that will help inform educational planning for him/her.
WEAKNESSES: With the current version of Databeacon, there is some inconsistent functional terminology as the user moves within the system, which will be corrected in future releases.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Databeacon was selected because the Databeacon staff understands Infinite Campus' objectives, because the system is reliable and easy to use, and because it is affordable to financially stressed school districts.
DELIVERABLES: Infinite Campus includes pre-defined "data cube" reports that present information drawn from the Infinite Campus EPMS in a manner consistent with the requirements of "No Child Left Behind" reporting and analysis. Infinite Campus also includes pre-defined "NCLB Report Card" report formats.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Databeacon's contribution to this partnership has been, and is, exemplary. The Databeacon team clearly understands Infinite Campus' objectives and provides a very high degree of support.
DOCUMENTATION: Infinite Campus provides its own NCLB Data Analysis and Reporting documentation to its customers. Databeacon's documentation is used by the developers at Infinite Campus, and it is up-to- date and easy to use.
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