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Huckleberries Online

Thu., Jan. 16, 2014, 12:01 p.m.

Idaho school data system: Below Grade

Thread moved up from earlier in the day . CH

Ideally, technology in the classroom is supposed to improve learning and save teachers time and money. In reality, those high hopes can just as easily be brought low by a tangle of technical difficulties.

In Idaho, that's what's happened with Schoolnet, the ambitious "instructional management system" that the state of Idaho and the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation have spent millions piloting over nearly three years. Districts believed it would be able to seamlessly transmit data on students from one district to another when they transfer. It would allow teachers to easily create tests and lesson plans, and share them across the state. They would be able to quickly access test scores and grades on their students and share that information with parents.

Instead, Schoolnet has been plagued with wildly inaccurate data, slow loading times and aggravating navigation. A May 2013 study from the Institute for Evidence-Based Change (IEBC), commissioned by the Albertson Foundation, found that while many of Schoolnet's goals have been accomplished, Idaho Department of Education representatives were worried that "the number and magnitude of errors and problems in the system are great enough that the users are losing trust and will continue to do so."  Read more. Daniel Walters, Inlander

Honestly? I'm thankful not to have a child attending public school in Idaho, not because of the lack of great teachers in individual schools, but because the state continually ranks at the bottom of the nation in education. This Schoolnet issue seems like a waste of dollars. "The $16.5 million the Albertson Foundation has already spent on Schoolnet would have been enough to pay the salaries of nearly 175 first-year teachers over the past three years. On top of that, the state has spent over $1 million."

However, your thoughts may differ.

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Cindy Hval
Cindy Hval is a freelance columnist for the Voices neighborhood sections. Her Front Porch column appears twice a month in the Thursday Voice.