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Celebrate the Success Stories of Knowledge Management - 2022 KMWorld Awards

Gaining better insight into student performance

The Mobile County Public Schools System (MCPSS) in Alabama, the largest district in the state with more than 63,000 students in 95 schools, has chosen analytics software from IBM. The goals of the implementation are to measure student performance more effectively, identify at-risk students quickly and adjust academic programs in real time to better prepare students with the skills they need.

With their previous reporting system, school officials found it difficult to tap into the vast stores of information they were accumulating. For example, information for each academic year was in separate physical databases, making what should have been a simple process of generating a report into a multistep, complex process that provided limited, often outdated insight into student performance.

According to a press release from IBM, its analytics technology will be rolled out to up to 5,000 users throughout the district, including central office administrators, principals, guidance counselors and teachers. Customizable dashboards will give the district access to up-to-the-minute reports, IBM adds, enabling users to gauge the effectiveness of education programs and to monitor the academic record of each student, including class attendance, grades and any special education needs.

MCPSS officials are particularly focused on tracking students who are at risk of dropping out of school. With their old system, school administrators had to wait for quarterly reports from central office. The longer it took to get information out to the field, the greater the risk of students dropping out. With the new technology, all information will be available locally for immediate review. A set of notifiers built into the solution will alert appropriate personnel when a student has crossed specific “at risk” thresholds, according to IBM.

David K. Akridge, executive manager of IT services at the school district, says, “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 analytics and business intelligence is also expected to help MCPSS comply with the transparency and reporting mandates of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.

“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,” Akridge says.

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