Thursday, September 11, 2014

An incomplete joke on the day before ‘Norm Day’: THE MiSiS CRISIS CONTINUES AT LAUSD

Student Recovery Day postponed, system a “severe crisis” and/or “a complete joke”, 40,000 students unaccounted-for  - but don’t worry: “ …we are continuing to improve.”

●● smf: Why am I worried?

MiSiS computer mess could impact college applications

By Thomas Himes, Los Angeles Daily News }

9/9/14, 7:53 PM PDT  ::  Concerned that high school seniors could miss college application deadlines if the school district’s stumbling computer system isn’t fixed, Los Angeles Unified School board members asked staff Tuesday about backup plans.

MiSiS, the district’s new computer system, still can’t create the transcripts that students will need for approaching deadlines to file college applications.

“We know there’s still issues, we know there’s still concerns out in the field, but we are continuing to improve,” Chief Strategy Officer Matt Hill told the board.

Next week, Hill said, the system should be able to print out transcripts for students applying to college this fall. If not, there are other options that include working with the district’s information technology department to retrieve transcripts, Hill said.

Another concern of board members Tuesday was the potential that schools could be shortchanged when enrollment figures are reported Friday for the purpose of allocating teachers.

Enrollment records, which are used to assign and transfer teachers between schools, will be verified by manual counts, after they’re reported as part of the district’s “norm day” Friday, Deputy Superintendent Michelle King said. Additionally district officials will dispatch staff to schools and call principals before processing student counts to assign teachers, she said.

“The process will be a rolling process over a course of three weeks,” King said.

The system was launched on school’s first day, Aug. 12. Teachers, principals and their union representatives repeatedly warned top district officials against rushing to launch the system this year.

Hill said Tuesday that the district’s information technology department as a precaution went through steps to test MiSiS before its launch, “but obviously we missed some of those steps.”

Out of six high school principals, five were concerned about the upcoming deadline, board member Monica Ratliff said of an informal survey she recently conducted. From a field of 15 elementary schools, Ratliff said that six expressed concerns MiSiS would cause problems.

Aside from norm day, the system is making it difficult for campus-based educators to identify students who are gifted, special education or English language learners, a representative of United Teachers Los Angeles, Colleen Schwab, told the school board.

“It is a severe crisis,” Schwab said. “We are mostly concerned about the attendance issue, we are not sure attendance is able to be done correctly.”

California School Employees Association’s President Lydia Perez, who represents secretaries and office workers, said MiSiS is a “complete joke, it’s driving everybody crazy inside schools.”

The district’s previous computer program, ISIS, worked. But instead of sticking with it, Perez said, the district is now paying for school staffers to work long hours in an effort to overcome the system’s problems.

“It’s not fair, we are wasting so much money on overtime for a program that doesn’t work,” Perez said. “They don’t need the overtime, they need a program that is functioning and the students can be enrolled.”

Problems in attendance and tracking truant students caused officials to call off “recovery day,” which was set for Sept. 5. The annual effort aimed at stopping kids from dropping out of school by knocking on their doors and calling their homes was rescheduled for the spring, because educators can’t tell who is absent.

School board member Steven Zimmer asked Hill to alert the board when the system works well enough to locate truant students in the near future.

“The sooner you can let us know, the sooner we can get out there and recover students,” Zimmer said.

LAUSD's new computer system MiSiS plagued by glitches


By Robert Holguin, KABC News |

Tuesday, September 09, 2014 LOS ANGELES (KABC)   ::  The Los Angeles Unified School District's new $20-million record-keeping system MiSiS has been plagued by glitches. About 40,000 students remain unaccounted for.

It's a daunting task to create a software program that will keep track of more than 600,000 students at more than 1,000 schools.
That's the idea behind My Integrated Student Information System or MiSiS, but critics say the LAUSD's $20-million program rollout has been plagued by glitches and crashes. The blunders include missing or inaccurate rosters and class schedules.
"So as a result, we started the school year with many, many, many thousands of kids not being able to be in classes," Colleen Schwab said. "We believe there are still about 40,000 kids who we don't know where they are."
Schwab is vice president of UTLA, the union that represents teachers at LAUSD. She says the district rushed the system into place before it was ready.
"Teachers cannot enter grades and the grades are due this Friday for the first five weeks," Schwab said. "Teachers are telling me, 'I can't do it, it disappears, I have the wrong class roster.'"
On Tuesday, the team in charge of implementing the program went before the school board and assured them that the problems with MiSiS were being addressed.
"When we went through all the testing, stress testing, user testing, the results that we got back at the time were saying that this was ready to move forward," LAUSD Chief Strategy Officer Matt Hill said. "We found out rolling it out that there were things that were missed during those testing processes."
Hill says his team is working to address the issues with MiSiS, but still feels like the problems with computerized attendance and the tracking system will eventually work themselves out.
"I believe that the system is stable now," Hill said. "We still need to continue to work with our users at the school sites."
But some teachers say those kind of assurances aren't good enough.
"We believe there should be teachers, parents, students, administrators on a technology committee to remedy this and to not let this happen again," Schwab said.
A member of the school board asked LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy to give the implementation of MiSiS a letter grade during Tuesday's meeting. Deasy gave the program an incomplete.

Los Angeles Unified School District's MiSiS record-tracking software still glitchy


Updated Sept. 10, 2014 5:42 p.m  ::  A month into the new school year, teachers and counselors in Los Angeles Unified School District are still having problems tracking grades and attendance using a new software system, administrators said at a district board meeting Tuesday.

The My Integrated Student Information System, known as MiSiS, continues to cause deep frustrations in schools across in the nation’s second largest school district, despite ongoing efforts to fix the $20 million system.

“We need to do a better job to provide schools the tools they need,” said the district’s Chief Strategy Officer Matt Hill, who has been overseeing the implementation of the system. “There are things still not working well, and we continue to try to fix them.”

MiSiS was designed to be a one-stop shop for teachers, principals and parents to track grades, class schedules, attendance and other records of the district’s 650,000 students. But it’s been riddled with glitches since its launch in early August.

Hill said the system is now “stable” compared to the first week of classes. But he said people are still having problems inputting grades and attendance, and tracking records of students in special education and magnet programs.

One of the biggest concerns: Some councelors have been unable to process transcripts for students applying to college, Hill said. Some worry the transcript problems could prevent some students from applying by deadlines.

The district has brought in 23 new technicians to work on the system and added other employees to work with teachers via help lines. Additionally, the district will pay overtime to teachers and other staff who spend extra time inputting data because of system problems.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, leaders with the teachers and other employee unions again criticized district administrators for launching a system that has been plagued by problems.

“The MiSiS program is a complete joke. It’s causing a lot of stress in our schools,” said Linda Perez, president of the Los Angeles chapter of the California School Employees Union, which represents office workers, instructional aides, library assistants and other staff. “This program was completely unnecessary. The old program was working perfectly.”

School board member Bennett Kayser also expressed frustration.

“It’s still disappointing that this far into the school year we don’t know where all our students are,” he said.

Bennett then asked Superintendent John Deasy, “If you could give a grade to how the system has worked so far, what grade would you give it?”

Deasy responded, “Incomplete.”

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