Document 10900503

Dear LEA Superintendents: As you know, North Carolina’s student information system, NC WISE, is 14 years old and due for an upgrade in order to be as efficient as possible, to work well on current technology and to prepare for the new instructional improvement system currently under development. This week, the NC Department of Public Instruction received permission from State Information Technology Services to move forward with sole-­‐source procurement of PowerSchool, a student information system developed by Pearson. With this approval, we are initiating conversion discussions with the possibility of replacing NC WISE over the next 18 months. This timeline is aggressive, but very reasonable since Pearson already owns the aal software that currently powers NC WISE. The transition to PowerSchool will not fundamentally change the roles that teachers and others currently have under NC WISE. Because user roles will stay the same, the transition to PowerSchool should be fairly smooth and require less change management than we encountered in moving to NC WISE. Our goal is to create as little disruption to LEAs and schools as possible while moving to a modern student information system that works with modern technology and devices. PowerSchool has a number of significant advantages for North Carolina: • PowerSchool offers more local control regarding the modules LEAs and charters use. These modules include parent and student portals. • PowerSchool is designed to give users flexibility of access through mobile devices and includes specialized applications created with mobile devices in mind. • PowerSchool is designed with the convenience of users in mind and extensive training will be provided with the software. Current state funds used to operate NC WISE will be used to purchase and implement PowerSchool. There will be no change in how NC WISE is funded. We will keep you updated as our conversion discussions move forward. The PowerSchool conversion is a separate project from our upcoming Instructional Improvement System (IIS), which is a part of the state’s Race to the Top plan. With the IIS, we plan to deliver the following broad modules: • Standards, Curriculum, and Instruction – This module will support educators by providing standards-­‐aligned instructional resources and tools to build them into lesson plans. • Assessment – This module will allow users to design, administer, score, and record performance on assessments at the classroom, school, district, and state levels. •
Professional Development and Educator Evaluation – This module will streamline the registration and tracking of teachers’ professional development and will provide an embedded tool for evaluating educators according to state standards. Data Analysis and Reporting – This module will present information to users in a way that facilitates decision-­‐making with emphasis on individualized instruction. Learner Profile and Work Samples – This module will provide students and educators with a central landing page and virtual space to store exemplars of their work. We will keep you posted on the progress of finding a vendor to provide the state’s IIS solution. Similarly, the state’s effort in the Shared Learning Infrastructure (SLI) pilot, sponsored by the Gates and Carnegie Foundations, is a separate but linked project. The SLI project intends to create a national “education marketplace” where third-­‐
party vendors can create applications to support teachers using student data pulled from a common infrastructure. NCDPI with Guilford County Schools is working with SLC (the “Collaborative” running the SLI) to map relevant data and prepare for the pilot. Once the three projects are implemented, we envision that SLI will pull data from PowerSchool and will populate the IIS modules for use in the classroom. Of course, all of this will work within the context of the NC Education Cloud’s shared services. There are still many details to be sorted out in these projects, but we are starting a new communications effort to make sure everyone stays up-­‐to-­‐date.