School Board Gets Presentations on New Software to Manage District, High-Risk Students
The Bradenton Times

Original post from The Bradenton Times

By: Jackson Falconer

BRADENTON — Two major pieces of software—one an entire system that would track several aspects of the Manatee School District, and the other a tool to help identify and manage communications with at-risk students—were presented at Tuesday's school board meeting. 

PeopleSoft—which would track and help manage finance, bus transportation logistics, inventory, and a wide swath of other areas of the district—was presented first. 

"A lot of its strength is in cost analysis," said Chief Information and Technology Officer Patrick Fletcher. "If you're an organization, you have to understand the cost of doing business."

The software, said Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene, comes with an initial cost of $250,000, with a maintenance fee in the following years. If the district chooses to adopt PeopleSoft, it would replace a software system that showed inefficiencies through the years.

Those inefficiencies, said Deputy Superintendent of Operations Don Hall, were due to district employees modifying the code that made up the system. "Then they started bulking on third party applications everywhere. By the time you were done, there were three different systems running, and they didn't talk to each other."
 
Hall said that when a new system is implementing, the core system will not be modified, and that the district is also not looking at third party applications to add. Greene said staff would be putting in a request to negotiate with PeopleSoft on a contract with the district. 

The Early Warning Module, made by education software company BrightBytes, was presented next. The software gives school districts a look at various risk factors facing a school's individual students, and provides a streamlined way of having educators, parents and at-risk students communicate and follow up on the student's school issues, for the purpose of lowering their at-risk rate.

"What we have found is with this system, we can identify students as early as the first grade as to their potential for dropping out of school," said Saxe. 

The software, said Greene, allows principals to see the number of students considered to be at-risk by each day. 

The software also shows dropout prediction accuracy rates, broken into different education periods. 

Saxe said that by grades 1-3, the system is able to predict a student's dropout chances with 87 percent accuracy; by grades 4-5, the number moves to 89 percent; 6-8, 90 percent. By grades 9-12, said Saxe, the accuracy rate moves up to 92 percent. 

"The Brightbytes system is one such tool to make sure that our students" are becoming college graduates, he explained. 

"This is a very powerful tool we have at our disposal ... to ensure all of our students are successful and becoming graduates."