Idaho Releases Report Criticizing Schoolnet, Cites 'Lessons Learned'

OH NO, IDAHO: On Monday, the state of Idaho released a report criticizing a statewide rollout of Schoolnet (a Pearson student assessment product) and offering critical lessons for future IT projects. Schoolnet was launched in 2011, funded partially by a $21 million grant from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, but received growing pushback over the years.

The Director’s Note summed up the evaluation with a conclusion that “poor management, poor decisions, and poor system functionality compounded themselves” and ultimately “prevented the goals for a statewide instructional management system from being realized.” The net cost of the project? About $61 million.

One particular lesson the report stresses is that of reading those less than stellar signs of impending issues earlier, rather than later. For example, noncompliance issues with the vendor contract or multiple grant application rejections (the Schoolnet application was rejected three times) should denote strong cause for concern.

There’s always opportunity for redemption, however. Perhaps Idaho should look to Los Angeles as an example; the Information Technology Department appears to have made progress on solving LA Unified’s high-cost student data management system problems, with a more user-friendly MISIS website.

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