When Moffat County School District purchased a $230,000 data-management system in February, some teachers greeted the decision with skepticism.
The purchase, made in a hurry to get the best price, was approved while teachers were negotiating for pay increases within the confines of a no-growth budget.
But school administrators defended the purchase, saying the software was necessary to help meet goals.
Administrators say they don't regret buying the software, known as TetraData.
"What it does is validate your gut feeling," Assistant Superintendent Joel Sheridan said. "Beyond that, it gives you the root of the problem so that you can develop specific interventions."
The system allows educators to instantly upload student data, including Colorado Student Assessment Program test scores, ACT college entrance exam scores and local test results.
It also gives educators access to data analysis. Administrators say that's the critical component to using test scores to develop teaching methods.
By using the system, officials say they instantly retrieve data that would generally take weeks to compile, Sheridan said.
With the software, search parameters can be set to evaluate how student absences influence test scores. Educators can set parameters to include student, grade, socio-economic status, special need, teacher or subject, among other categories.
Focus on fundamentals
"With this, we can focus on the fundamentals before we play the big game," Superintendent Pete Bergmann said.
The system allows officials to isolate problems and trends before deciding how to address them, educators say.
Staff members demonstrated the system's capabilities to the board of education last week and during the district's state accreditation review.
"We're seeing nationally that whatever you're using has to impact on the classroom/teacher level. This tool allows that to happen," said Bob Mullen, Northwest Region manager for the Colorado Department of Education. "It's a great system."
It will take some time before a person in each school is trained to use the system, Sheridan said, but teachers will be able to request specific reports from the administrative offices when needed.
The cost of the system will be spread across four years.
Some teachers have questioned the expense and need for the system as well as the speed with which the purchase was approved.
Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or firstname.lastname@example.org.