Finally a new student data website that delivers better information on students? I was excited, thrilled actually, to learn that in New York City, parents of students in public schools would be able to view their children’s educational records (and information) on a new website replacing the previous ARIS data system. So I promptly made an appointment to go to my kid’s school to request a login and temporary password to access my children’s information.
Information in hand I quickly setup my login so that I could test drive this new data portal. NYC schools says the new portal is designed internally for less than $2 million and is expected to cost under $4 million for further development over the next four years. So what did I find? The portal has my kid’s name, address, last term’s grades and attendance. No more. As the parent of two children in elementary school (three kids actually but the third is not yet school age), I want comprehensive information on how my children are doing in school. I know where they live and how many days they have been absent. But what I do not have access to is how my children have progressed over time. There is no linked data through their school years. I know my 11 yr old has a good grade in math but what are his weaknesses and strengths? Where can he use some extra help and what can linked data tell his teacher about him next year? Unfortunately the new portal does not have any of this information.
The NYC DOE promises that at the end of the school year, report cards will go online and that test scores will be added once the state releases them. Previous year scores and test grades are expected to be added later in the year. But what the NYC DOE does not specify is if parents will have access to data analytics. If the portal will deliver more than a report card.
I was hoping for a robust buildout, a data portal that would extract the valuable student data that is most likely sitting in a black box somewhere in school. I understand more features will be added as the portal is expanded but unfortunately the kids continue to grow and study. We can’t afford to wait for a buildout. There is value in data but it is only valuable if we can have access to it.
I hope that over the next few months the portal will have added features, in particular features that provide valuable information that allows us to answer questions about our kid’s education and their progress. I would certainly love to have information on teacher assessments, curriculum, reporting and analysis of my child’s education. The portal has a section for parent comments and I’m certainly entering my wish list.