Bloomberg screws up another tech project — the list keeps growing

From the Daily News:

“More than 40% of public school educators are not using a key tech tool [the ARIS program] designed to boost lagging test scores, city Controller John Liu charged Monday, in labeling the $83 million program a waste of money. . . .

“The massive data resource was set up to give educators access to everything from student attendance records to the special-ed needs and test scores of students.

“A key part of the Bloomberg administration’s education reform strategy, it’s also there to provide resources and strategies for instructors, including lesson plans and other material.

“An audit by Liu found 42% of principals and teachers have never even logged in. ARIS was launched in 2008. Liu said, ‘$83 million later, there is little discernible improvement in learning, and many principals and teachers have given up on the system.’ ”

But your Bitemaster doesn’t just rely on the Daily News article. He goes the extra mile and asks friends with actual experience in the NYC Department of Education.

Mr. D., a former NYC teacher, says,

“I’ve been a critic of ARIS from the day it started — two years late and millions over budget. It was just one more of Bloomcrap’s no-bid plums to his buddies. . . .

“[My critique of ARIS is p]retty basic. The software has a long history of not functioning. The data it gives is VERY basic and not particularly usable. There are errors in the data and making corrections is a much too long and complicated process. There has been almost no teacher training (supposedly part of the contract), and, as a result, very little teacher buy-in.

“There are better, far cheaper, teacher-created data software packages and more and more schools are using them instead of ARIS.

“There is a lengthy history of the DOE instituting expensive software programs: a parent-contact one, the name of which I’ve mercifully forgotten, is a prime example as it had zero basis in the realities of teacher/parent communication problems (no email, no land-line phones, disposable cell phones and frequently shifting cell phone numbers, etc). The problem is that the DOE is run by bean-counters who have no classroom experience and are too arrogant to involve teachers in any aspect of the management process of planning, implementing or assessing the efficacy of any of their initiatives.”

Mr. G., a current NYC teacher told me that it just isn’t very useful. He says it provides some basic numbers about his kids, but nothing that would tell him about their strengths, weaknesses, special needs, social adaptation, etc.

If Bloomberg were to ask me (fat chance!), I’d tell him to adopt Khan Academy for NYC. But he ain’t gonna do that because it’s too affordable and works too well.

Or Bloomberg could have listened to New York City Council Member Robert Jackson, one of the city’s top education experts, when he asked that the program be terminated.

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