Nashville, TN – July 14, 2011 – Memphis City Schools is among the systems forging ahead of urban schools nationally as the Tennessee State Board of Education recently unanimously endorsed the use of MCS’ groundbreaking Teacher Effectiveness Measure known as “TEM” (http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/state-approves-memphis-innovative-teacher-effectiveness-measure-123846344.html). Related to this news is an announcement MCS put out a competitive bid for the related technology supporting TEM, which RANDA Solutions won.
The resulting Online Principal Teacher Evaluation System (OPTES) combines a secure web-based data aggregation and management system with the latest mobile technology of Apple and RANDA, facilitating classroom observations via iPads. “Our clients are abandoning inefficient, paper processes used since the ‘70s because direct data entry saves untold man hours. This initiative makes efforts like these resulting data sets immediately accessible and useful to help teachers improve their effectiveness,” says Randall Dennis, Chief Strategy Officer for RANDA Solutions.
New state requirements radically increase the number of teacher observations conducted in Tennessee schools. RANDA’s solution and MCS’ TEM meet at a crucial time. Rod Berger, PsyD, RANDA’s Vice President of Education, agrees: “Observations were already tedious and overwhelming for observers and administrators. It was essential we eliminate inefficiencies related to scheduling, evidence gathering, and reporting.” Dr. Berger added, “This solution simplifies and automates scheduling, observations and reporting.” Among the “agents of innovation” (http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2011/jul/05/guest-column-agents-of-innovation-champion/) investing in MCS’ success are the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (http://www.gatesfoundation.org/united-states/Pages/memphis-city-schools-fact-sheet.aspx).
RANDA CEO, Marty Reed, sees larger implications and markets. “The dynamics in play here are not unique. We’ve encountered them in schools across the nation.” End of July, RANDA nationally releases a solution called the TOWER System providing many of the OPTES features. “TOWER Mobile,” Reed adds, “is a mobile app that synchronizes to the TOWER System via iPads and Android devices. The result is wireless, paperless observations and walkthroughs.”
While OPTES is a much larger undertaking, the TOWER System and OPTES share a number of benefits to school districts:
• Capability of supporting all aspects of observation records for an academic year
• Time-saving, intuitive layouts of rubrics and walkthroughs to keep classroom visits productive
• Electronic forms for recording and submitting observer and educator comments and notes
• Configurable observation pacing, scheduling and workflow
• Storage of new and historical observation records for usable retrieval and reporting
• Time/date stamping of all observations
• Ability to configure role-based permissions access to data
• Synchronization of mobile apps to system affords wireless functionality without Wi-Fi coverage during observations
“We face considerable challenges in education,” says Dr. Berger, “Tools like TOWER provide us timely information we can really use for teacher improvement. And tools like these buy educators additional time and energy they need to devote to students.”
RANDA Solutions is an INC. 500 software firm based in Nashville, TN serving the education sector. RANDA’s tools for administrators and teachers aggregate and manage many types of education intelligence including standardized testing results, formative assessments, teacher evaluations and demographics. Historical and live data reporting, along with additional customized content, is delivered via RANDA’s secure web portals and integrates seamlessly with RANDA’s cross-platform mobile applications for iPads and Android devices. Information on RANDA can be found at www.randasolutions.com.