TEA News Releases Online
June 30, 2011
Texas lowers administrative burden on school districts:
new state-sponsored Student Information System announced
AUSTIN – The Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced today that it had completed the process of procuring a state-sponsored Student Information System that will reduce administrative costs and improve educational resources for school districts across the Lone Star state. After an intensive process of competitive bidding and contract negotiation, the state obtained a solution that leverages its formidable buying power and provides direct benefits to educators.
“The new state-sponsored Student Information System will ease the reporting burden on school districts, and it couldn’t come at a better time,” said Commissioner of Education Robert Scott. “The project could potentially save millions of dollars for school districts, resulting in more resources available to our classroom teachers.”
This announcement marks the first major milestone in the multi-year Texas Student Data System (TSDS) initiative to streamline state data standards and to provide more useful tools to frontline educators and administrators. The state-sponsored Student Information System works by better organizing and managing student data at the school level, including attendance, grades, discipline, course history, and test scores. The system will greatly reduce the cost and burden to school districts and provide a much more robust set of features. These features will be available to schools along with more streamlined integration to TEA, which will cut the time and resource costs that districts face when reporting data to TEA.
“We have worked closely with our partners at the school districts and Regional Education Service Centers throughout this process,” said Brian Rawson, director of Statewide Data Initiatives at TEA. “Collaboration has been our top priority, and we really want to provide a solution that has the greatest benefit to our teachers and students.” The extensive process of collaboration involved 10 different evaluation teams, 32 people, five Education Service Centers, and 36 school districts.
The structure of the program respects Texas’s tradition of local control regarding educational matters. The choice to adopt the new state-sponsored system will be made by each school district, based on an individual assessment of the benefits offered. Initial feedback from stakeholders and TEA advisors has been very positive, and swift adoption is expected, Rawson said.
The new information system builds upon two established software products that have already proven themselves through numerous successful implementations across Texas. In order to drive additional competition and to meet the diverse needs of Texas educators, two contracts were awarded by the state: one to Skyward, Inc., and one to the Texas Computer Cooperative (TCC). Skyward is a commercial offering that is already serving nearly 900,000 Texas students. The TCC software, TxEIS, is developed by the Region 20 Education Service Center in cooperation with 18 other ESC’s across the state and is already serving 921,000 Texas students. Both received high marks from an extensive panel of independent evaluators and progressed to the final round of negotiations.
There is no direct cost to the state from this effort, and all of the work done so far has been funded through federal and private foundation grants. When implementation is completed, each district that joins the program can expect to reduce its already budgeted costs for similar systems. The overall savings will depend on the level of district adoption, but the subscription-based pricing negotiated by TEA can immediately lower costs for districts.
At the end of the day, this is about making a difference for our students,” said Rawson. “By improving information technology and reducing administrative costs, we can free our schools up to do what they do best – teach the next generation of Texans.”