July 13 - Mobile County (Alabama) Public Schools has selected IBM analytics technology to measure student performance, identify students "at risk" and adjust academic programs in real time to help MCPSS comply with The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s transparency and reporting mandates.

The news extends the state of Arkansas’ April announcement of a partnership with IBM to help manage a total of $569.9 million in ARRA education funding targeted for the state.

The Obama Administration has made education reform one of its top priorities. The ARRA earmarked $26 million for MCPSS under Title I, funds for helping educators of academically at-risk students to close the achievement gap among schools while stimulating the economy. Mobile County Public Schools System (MCPSS) is the largest school district in Alabama, with an enrollment of more than 63,000 students in 95 schools. In collaboration with IBM business partner DecisionEd Group, MCPSS will deliver analytics for up to 5,000 users across the school district, including central office administrators, principals, guidance counselors and teachers.

"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," said David K. Akridge, executive manager of information technology services at Mobile County Public Schools in a statement.

Customizable dashboards will effectively gauge how well schools are delivering education programs and monitor the entire academic lifecycle of each student, including class attendance, grades, interventions and any special educational requirements. A set of notifiers will alert the proper personnel once a student has crossed specific at-risk thresholds, such as absenteeism and grade levels. With this advanced warning system, school officials will be able to focus on preventing or resolving issues before they escalate, helping steer students on the right path and monitoring their progress moving forward.

Software vendors including SAP, Actuate and MicroStrategy are also offering tools to public institutions to track and report on ARRA spending under the terms of the act.

Education customers can apply performance management toward improving the education across the board. Robert Dolan, government and education executive, IBM, said, “Financial performance management is only one area where schools can utilize the power a performance management solution brings. Another area would be academic performance management and another, operational performance.”

Read Steve Miller’s recent blog about schools and information management here.


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