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Board paying $400,000 to data company

May 05, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Board of Education decided Tuesday to award a $400,000, three-year contract to a Florida company to help it store and analyze data, including information about student achievement and performance.

The contract was awarded to Performance Matters of Winter Park, Fla.

The contract will cost $160,000 the first year, $120,000 the second year and $120,000 the third year.

The company's work will be evaluated on a monthly basis and the contract can be terminated if the work does not meet set standards, Deputy Superintendent Patricia Abernethy said.

The board does not have the personnel or the technology to do the work the contractor will do, she said.

To meet state and federal mandates, including the No Child Left Behind Act, county school systems have to organize and provide more data about students and the schools than they did in the past, said JoEtta Palkovitz-Brown, executive director of elementary education.

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The school board needs to have a system that can easily and quickly provide such data, she said.

This can best be done by using the contractor, she said.

While the school board has information about students on one computer system and data about benchmarks and assessments on another, it does not have an easy way to integrate the information, Abernethy said.

Palkovitz-Brown said one school system in Maryland is spending $1 million to try to set up its own computer system to do such work.

Another system has hired six additional employees to try to manage the data, and that is just for information about students in kindergarten through third grade, she said.

The company awarded the contract has done work for school systems in Michigan and Florida, so it has experience with this type of job, Abernethy said.

Representatives of the company will meet with school system employees in late May and should have a computer system - accessible by teachers and other employees - up and running within 45 days, she said.

Teachers will be able to use the information on the system to learn more about their classes, and to adjust lesson plans and instructions accordingly, Abernethy said.

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