Software tests patience in Maryland district

A $4.1 million computer program designed to put Prince George’s County, Md., students’ grades, attendance, and discipline data online has been plagued with errors in its first year, leading to botched schedules, an overcount of students, and report cards that were delayed or simply wrong, reports the Washington Post. Since going online Aug. 19, SchoolMax has crashed four times, once for 17 hours, said W. Wesley Watts Jr., the school system’s chief information officer. Errors led to the duplication of 3,600 student identification numbers in the 128,000-student system; nearly 300 were double-enrolled, leading to an inaccurate count of the student population. The delivery of report cards was delayed last semester, and some students have found they’ve gotten E’s instead of A’s. "There are a lot of issues with SchoolMax. Some of them are technical. Some of them are data-related," Watts told the school board. "If there is an issue, we need to know what that issue is. Telling us the grade book doesn’t work, or it stinks, doesn’t help me or our team." Prince George’s County is not alone in experiencing problems with a new system.
Watts said the problems were largely the fault of inadequate training rather than bugs in the system. Only 65 percent of student schedules were entered correctly, leading to delays in getting students’ classes straight, he said, adding: "The training that was provided was not what we needed."

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