Idaho will not be getting its long-awaited tracking system that would have standardized software in all 114 school districts and let parents monitor their children’s academic progress over the Internet.
The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, which had pledged $35 million for the Idaho Student Information Management System, announced in December 2004 that the project was more complicated and costly than anticipated. The original plan, after five years of consideration, called for parts of the project to be launched statewide by fall 2006. Instead, the 29 districts that have been piloting the project will convert to one of three alternative information systems over the summer of 2005.
State officials plan to work with the foundation on setting more realistic goals for a possible scaled-down version, although going forward will depend on outside resources. A legislative audit released in January found that most districts fall below minimum industry standards for technology-support staffing. The report said that local schools in the state had put too much emphasis on buying computer equipment and not enough on making sure it is used and maintained properly.
Over the past three years, the legislature has not approved budget requests for an increase in classified positions for schools, which would allow districts to hire more technology-support workers, according to state Superintendent Marilyn Howard. In light of the legislative audit, officials may revisit the statewide technology plan they adopted in spring 2004. For now, each school system is drawing up an action plan for meeting the state’s current technology goals and objectives, which affect all grades.
All of Idaho’s public schools now give standardized tests online in grades 2-10.
The state budgeted $8.4 million for educational technology for the 2004-05 school year, the same amount it invested the previous school year.