BUH-BYE: According to the NY Daily News, New York City Public Schools is ready to move on from ARIS, its $95 million data system that gives teachers and parents access to student test scores and instructional resources for to support specific exams, in favor of a homegrown solution. Designed by IBM, the district, under the leadership of Joel Klein, adopted ARIS in 2007 and turned over implementation and management of the tool to Wireless Generation during the last years of Joel Klein's tenure as Chancellor of NYCDOE. (Klein was recused from awarding the contract to IBM because of family stock holdings.)
In 2010, the company was acquired by Amplify (where Klein is now CEO), which continued to maintain the product, with the expectation that the city would eventually transition to a different system. "Six years ago we were called in to fix this project when it was well underway. We did so on time and on budget. Since then, we've been working over the past two years to wind down maintenance level work because of potential plans to transition to a new state system with similar—and in some cases—overlapping functions," says Justin Hamilton, Amplify's Chief of Staff.
ARIS has been criticized for low usage. According to the NY Daily News piece, in 2012-13 only 3 percent of parents and 16% of teachers used the system. But that’s not the only reason NYCDOE is switching gear. District representatives site the high cost and limited functionality among other reasons for the change.
This new change in direction might not be sudden as it seems. ARIS has received poor marks from educators and community members for years. According to Amplify representative, Justin Hamilton, the New York City Department of Education were renewing ARIS contracts over the past two years only on a short-term basis.
NYCDOE will now attempt to build its own student information system, to be ready by September 2015. But it would do well to heed the lessons learned by Los Angeles Unified School District, whose attempts at building its own SIS came under major criticism when student records were lost.
It’s always easy to criticize systems and tools when they fail. Now let’s see how the biggest school district in the country will build one.