A multimillion-dollar computer database that was supposed to provide invaluable insights about California's six million public school children is afflicted with “unacceptable system performance issues,” said Jack O’Connell, state superintendent of public instruction.
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In a letter to the state’s school boards, O’Connell said he was halting the rollout of CalPADS – the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System – while computer contractors focus on “stabilizing” the complex system.
O’Connell’s letter is dated Feb. 11, but it was first publicized on Wednesday by the California School Boards Association. The association has been reporting on the problems many districts have encountered when trying to input student data into the system, as they are required by state law.
O’Connell said the deadline for submitting data on school enrollments, graduations and dropouts had been extended indefinitely. Now districts are only required to report data demanded by the federal government, and they shouldn’t try to use CalPADS to do it, he wrote.
CalPADS was designed to keep track of important information about every public school student in California – the classes they take, their grades, and whether they quit high school without a diploma. The system is also supposed to note information such as a student’s race and family education level.
Ultimately, the data will be a valuable tool in identifying what’s wrong with state schools and fixing them, O’Connell has said.
IBM, Microsoft Corp. and other contractors are to receive $15 million for developing the system and getting it up and running, as the Riverside Press Enterprise has reported.
CalPADS went on-line on Oct. 5, and almost immediately school systems began struggling with it. Software routinely used by districts to report education data often proved incompatible with CalPADs. Many districts said they had trouble just accessing the system.
Two days after it went on-line, CalPADS crashed, the Sacramento Bee reported. It’s been a struggle ever since, “eating up hours of staff time” at districts around the state, the California School Boards Association said.