More than 200 ed-tech companies exhibited at this year’s T+L² Conference. Here’s a sampling of news from the exhibitors offering assessnent and data management products and services:

CDI, one of the largest resellers of refurbished information technology equipment in North America, said it is adding Cimple Systems Inc.’s Student Information System (SIS) software to its portfolio of offerings for K-12 schools. “Cimple’s software is custom built to order to fit the individual needs of the school,” said Art Ardolino, president of Cimple Systems. “Our software is delivered ready to go, is easy to maintain, and can be learned in hours rather than weeks. SIS brings schools out of the technology Dark Ages.”

Century Consultants, a maker of web-based, K-12 information management systems for school systems, was on hand to demonstrate its Star_Base School Suite, including its Star_Portal product, which enables administrators and teachers to create personal profiles and build their own web pages from a set of pre-designed templates. Features include a customizable teacher schedule, attendance tools, grade posting, an online teacher gradebook, and individual teacher web pages. The company also offers systems for financial and human resources management as well as data mining and assessment.

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    Excelsior Software came to Denver to announce the release of District Data Analyzer (DDA), a program the company says allows individual schools and districts to gain the full benefits of traditional data warehousing systems at a fraction of the cost. District Data Analyzer enables school districts to make data-driven decisions by customizing and distributing the information needed for administrators to see a clear, broad picture of their school or district.

    As an application to Excelsior’s Pinnacle System, DDA synthesizes the necessary information for schools and districts to maximize instruction. It tracks student progression through grade levels and customizes instruction to meet state standards. DDA also enables school leaders to view standardized test results in a useful, meaningful format.

    The software uses Associative Query Logic to feed its data into applications that run in the background. The technology connects a school or district to multiple data sources that might reside in different locations. This includes student information systems, curriculum management systems, and state or district assessment data. In most cases, administrators are able to load the data and use the product right away. Districts that have gone with DDA found they could make qualified, data-driven decisions in a short period of time, the company said.

    In addition to the DDA announcement, Excelsior unveiled Pinnacle PDA, a handheld version of its student data management software. With Pinnacle PDA, teachers and administrators can access information at any time. Changes made on the handheld can be synchronized back to the Pinnacle Plus System desktop gradebook. It’s compatible with both Pocket PC and Palm operating systems

    Pearson Digital Learning unveiled the latest release of Concert Inform, a comprehensive, web-based performance analysis and decision support tool for reporting on student, school, and district performance. Designed for teachers and principals, Concert Inform provides these educators with an efficient way to analyze assessment and performance data, allowing them to answer critical questions such as which schools need help to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) goals and how students are performing against state standards and district proficiency levels. The software is standards-based, with updates made on a nightly basis. With an eye toward data-driven decision making, the latest version is also set up to sort student data into No Child Left Behind categories and gives principals a wider range of data presentation options for staff meetings. The product is priced per student on a subscription basis and is supplied to districts as an ASP service.

    Pearson School Systems, a division of Pearson Digital Learning, displayed its School Information & Performance System (SiPS). This multi-platform, web-based software has been out for the past year, offering comprehensive student information, including a grade book, calendars, attendance reports, contact information, report cards, and more. Pearson acquired the product when it purchased altonaEd in August.

    SiPS is a full-featured, Java-based student information system that comes with its own advanced query tool and report writer. It’s a solution geared toward better parent-school communication, as assignments can be downloaded and test results accessed through the web. Each student’s family receives a username and password for the system, enabling parents to see everything down to the school cafeteria menu. Data are encrypted and permissions settings are strict, giving SiPS a high degree of security for schools making large amounts of data available to parents, the company said.

    Principia Products promoted its Remark Office OMR, software that helps users collect data from surveys, tests, and other documents. Data from tests and questionnaires can be scanned on a PC scanner for use in the software, eliminating manual data entry. All paper forms work with the program and can include “bubble-in” answers and image areas, the company said. The software also has an analysis component called Remark Quick Stats, which produces professional charts and graphs based on entered data. Remark Office OMR can calculate many statistics, including high/low score, median, mean, range, and frequency distribution. Data can be saved to more than 30 different file formats, such as SPSS, Excel, HTML, and The Survey System.

    Scantron Corp., a recognized leader in educational testing and assessment tools for more than three decades, announced that plain-paper scanning capabilities have been added to Achievement Series, the company’s web-based assessment and reporting engine. Educators use Achievement Series to develop and deploy tests, capture results, and manage the vital information needed to make data-driven decisions that guide classroom instruction. Now, teachers can choose online, traditional Scantron scanning, or plain-paper scanning for scoring and testing with Achievement Series. The addition of plain-paper scanning means schools with limited access to computers, the internet, or high-volume Scantron OMR scanners can still benefit from the solution’s management and reporting capabilities.

    Software Technology Inc. (STI) said schools dealing with the assessment demands of the No Child Left Behind Act are embracing its education data management solutions. STI was in Denver to announce that more than 100 schools in five states are now using STI Assessment to integrate their student information systems with curriculum and assessment. The product has been available to schools only since late June, when it was first unveiled at the National Educational Computing Conference in New Orleans.

    STI Assessment, the result of a $30 million investment and six years of research, the company said, enables teachers to create tests or quizzes correlated to state standards or district benchmarks and obtain real-time assessment data. This helps them identify students’ individual abilities and tailor instruction to help students who are having difficulties with certain concepts.

    Edmundo Gonzalez, STI’s vice president of marketing and product management, said the software enables teachers to administer tests both online and on paper, but no matter what the method of data collection, the software produces powerful reports.

    “The magic really happens with the reports,” said Gonzalez. “Teachers can instantly see how a group or individual student did. On the district level, a lot of our customers are using it to see how an intended curriculum is being administered. Once you design a curriculum, you have to be sure it is implemented at the classroom level.”

    Teacher’s Pal will launch its next-generation software program, CLASS, in January 2005. The software offers standards alignment, curriculum management, grade book integration, lesson planning, and progress reporting. Teachers will be able to record and store grade information, develop lesson plans aligned with state standards, and store web sites and other instructional resources in a shared bank. With CLASS, teachers also will be able to match district curriculum to state standards and run progress reports on individual students, select groups of students, or generate a progress report for the entire class.

    Exhibitor information compiled and written by Online Editor Dan David, Managing Editor Dennis Pierce, Associate Editor Cara Branigan, Assistant Editor Corey Murray, and Contributing Editor Laura Ascione.

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