“We’re a district that believes in formative assessments for our students,” she said. “We believe that teachers need information about where their students have come from curriculum-wise, and where they are now, in order to do the best job they can. Six years ago, our district put out a bid to vendors, seeking a comprehensive data management system.”
After narrowing the list to about four or five contenders, Morgan said, one company really stood out: Performance Matters.
“We received bids from major companies like IBM, but all they wanted to offer us was an off-the-shelf program that would have cost us if we wanted even a simple customization,” she said. “Performance Matters said they wanted to hear our needs and goals for the district, and then build around those needs and goals. This is what we were looking for.”
Performance Matters, which provides web-based data management systems for some 50 school districts across the United States, offers four staple products: (1) High Stakes Edition, which includes dashboards and reports to analyze state test performance; (2) Progress Monitoring Edition, which allows for analysis of district and classroom assessments to monitor learning and differentiate instruction; (3) Accountability Edition, which blends analysis of high-stakes test results with current local assessments; and (4) Enterprise Edition, which can correlate and analyze all student performance data from multiple sources.
“We wanted to drive student proficiency and classroom efficiency with data-driven decision making, and Performance Matters provided this to us with an easy-to-use format for teachers and administrators,” Morgan said.
She added: “There are many detailed analyses that can be done, but many simple ones, too, such as: How many students are [special-needs students], and what are their reading levels?—basic information that every teachers needs to do their best job.”
For Morgan, a data management system isn’t just an add-on technology—it’s an integral step in maintaining efficiency and success.
“I always ask this question to people: If you were told that a brain surgeon was going to operate on your brain, only he or she hadn’t seen any brain scan or had [no] information about your condition or prior medical history, would you want that operation?” she said. “The answer is always no, and that’s the way it is with a well-functioning data management system. You need one to function and do a good job.”
Morgan also discussed how data management systems are becoming a part of everyday life, and not just in education.
“The other day I was in a clothing store and was using a coupon. Once the coupon was scanned, the sales woman asked me how I like my recent purchase of my jacket last week, and based on my other purchases, [she] gave me a list of other items I might like. Data management systems are everywhere, they’re a part of any successful business—and schools are no different.”
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