Just as It Was Going Districtwide, Dallas ISD Had to Take Its Parent Portal Offline. Costs.

DISDParentPortal.jpg
Via.
For two years, during test runs and slow roll-outs to a fraction of its campuses, the Dallas Independent School District promised that its much-ballyhooed Parent Portal would be The Future of Education. This was how parents were going to get deeply, profoundly involved in their kids' school lives, by using the Internet to keep tabs on their attendance, homework assignments, grades, you name it. The district has long been quite proud of the portal: When DISD Chief of Staff Arnold Viramontes left in February, then-superintendent Michael Hinojosa said it would be part of his legacy. And when Hinojosa followed him out the door a few months later, it was mentioned in the district's farewell press release that "grants from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ... established a Parent Portal for parents to monitor the progress of their students."

This was supposed to be the school year during which the Parent Portal finally expanded to all campuses -- which I completely forgot till a few days ago, when a friend and fellow DISD parent asked me, "Is your Parent Portal working?" (Which, in retrospect, sounds like something you really shouldn't ask people.) As a matter of fact, no. None of them are. So sayeth the DISD's website:
Dallas ISD's successful Parent Portal is temporarily inactive until a more cost effective solution can be developed. The Parent Portal has proven to be an effective way to involve parents in their child's education. The district remains committed to the concept because of its impact on parent involvement and student achievement and is working diligently toward re-implementation. The goal continues to be to implement the Parent Portal to all schools during the 2011-2012 school year, more than likely later this fall.
DISD spokesman Jon Dahlander says the district hopes to get it back up in coming months: "We hope it'll be back up in November, at the latest December." I asked what happened. He said it became "cost prohibitive for us to roll it out under the previous platform, so we're looking at alternatives."

Which sounds so like the DISD: The future is now ... no, wait, it's tomorrow. But truth is, launching the Parent Portal is the least of the district's issues with the digital endeavor. Because those parents to whom I've spoken who used it last school year complained that it's not terribly effective even when operational. The reason: Its success is dependent in large part upon teachers who actually plug in the data. And many of them don't.

I asked Dahlander if that problem will be rectified when the Parent Portal ever gets plugged back in.

"That'll be something we need to work through as we bring more schools online," he says. "And you're adding on an additional responsibility. It'll take time, so even when we get it up and going, there's no guarantee they'll post this. We'll have to say: 'This is a responsibility, and it's important to parents. They need it, and it'll help the parents of your children in your class. And most important, it'll help your students.' And that's something every teacher should desire."
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43 comments
NONE
NONE

This is a TINY microcosm of the FUTURE INTEGRATED PERSONAL ELECTRONIC HEALTH RECORD that the POTUS has decreed in the Obamacare Package....if a school district can't even link up kids, teachers, and records in a CLOSED education system......HOW WILL THE ENTIRE NATION HOOK UP ALL THE DOCTORS, HOSPITALS, CLINICS, INSURANCE, LABORATORIES, ETC AND A PERSONAL ELECTRONIC RECORD?????

IF YOU VOTED FOR OBAMA AND BELIEVE IN OBAMACARE....YOU BETTER START ASKING THE HOW IS IT GOING TO BE DONE, AND WHO WILL PAY THE BILLIONS AND BILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO BUILD THE SYSTEMS.....THEY DO NOT EXIST TODAY!!!!!

NONE
NONE

And everyone BLAMES Rick Perry for NOT ENOUGH MONEY for the schools and kids...and DISD just throws it away on high salary administration, failed technology...and failed massive projects....maybe they ought to have to post personal bond money to serve on the board, and pay back for losses on failed projects......instead of No Child Left Behind measuring TEACHERS, how about No School Left Behind measuring failing SCHOOL BOARDS.....leave the Governor alone as long as DISD fails itself.

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

What an utter waste of money. 

I said it before and I'll say it again - if you want a real-time parent information system powered by actual neural networks, 1) talk to your kids about school and 2) talk to their teachers about how your kids are doing.  Simple, effective, and FREE.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Pearson, lobbied for by Sandy Kress, former DISD Trustee president. Pearson owns Chancery, now Gradespeed, too?

As long as we have senior executives and lawyers making decisions, and just presenting their lopsided versions of reality to the board, they will continue to vote for whatever they say. Instead of doing their due diligence as a collective board and calling them out on costs, research, etc... We keep hearing, "Well, we don't want to micromanage the DISD. We hire only one guy, the superintendent."

Okay, but if you never hold the man accountable--by contract and by force, then how will anything change?

Under Dr Hinojosa, Blackburn would ask for month after month for info, and still not get it. And NOT ONCE did I EVER hear them turn to Dr Hinojosa and say out loud, "Can you make your people do their job, please?" Yet, if I am late on one lesson plan, clocking in, duty post or ten other things, I get written up.

The other trick they like to play: Wait until the last minute, give them the facts in a huge binder only 2 days before, and ask them to approve Project X in the consent agenda. When it gets pulled, they look like someone stepped on their puppy. When asked if they can delay a vote, in order to get more info, the usual answer involves skies falling,. huge ovverruns, ending of contracts or some other dire need. All in order to pressure a vote.

Never admit that you cannot plan ahead or know how to brief a board well enough thatthey haveno questions.

No, blame the teachers, fire the teachers,

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Wow, sounds like another typical pile of Bullsch from Dahlander..Im not buying it. Why is it other major districts in this state seem to have their collective shite together and this district doesnt when it comes to keeping all parties in the loop. DISD is a collective mess, its time the state comes in and cleans house once and for all...

Travis Rex
Travis Rex

 This happens more than one would think.  School districts and Colleges buy customized crap software packages all the time.  "getting sold a bill of goods" comes to mind.

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

"The reason: Its success is dependent in large part upon teachers who actually plug in the data. And many of them don't."

The Real Reason- Many Old School Teachers who don't even use PC's to even check e-mails.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

The root of the problem:  THE SCHOOL BOARD.Our own neighbors.  The people who whine about being unpaid--as if they didn't realize there shouldn't be perks for PUBLIC SERVICE.Name them, blame them, shame them.They approve the hires and they are fully, fully aware of the spending.If DISD taxes weren't so high, maybe we could have more money to donate to libraries, bike trails, and parks.  DISD overspending--approved by the board-- is killing this city in so many ways.And now our school board is probably ready to fully embrace Commit!, which is another group of non-teachers trying to profit off the schools.I am seeing 1 positive trend and it is the online training (vPLCs).  Finally, challenging core content is being taught to teachers so they can teach it to the kids.  I can't think of 1 reason not to shut the entire Professional Development dept down.  They have been proven worthless and rendered unnecessary.Now let's get the teachers from the highest performing schools to write the CPGs (once.  no need to reinvent the wheel every year), write the ACPs, and get rid of academic coaches.Mr. King, keep up the good work.  Cut PD, cut HR, cut legal (how about we try and write policies not designed to generate legal work for the favored law firms instead?) and AXE THE ACADEMIC COACHES.

NewsDog
NewsDog

So what happened to all the money from the Dell and Gates Foundations? Consulting fees? R&D? Heaven forbid it actuallt gets used for something that works.  

JD
JD

Parent Portal cost millions in taxpayer dollars. It was part of former IT director (until she was escorted out the door) Patti Viramontes' overblown, under researched data warehousing plan, and was a software package developed specifically for DISD (and requiring $600K in yearly "maintenance" fees) No, it never connected well to the other software in use at the district, GradeSpeed and Chancery, and was pretty much an expensive fail. Every district I am familiar with has some version of a Parent Portal in use, they take it for granted. DISD could too, GradeSpeed offers a portal license for around $1 a student, and teachers already enter grades using GradeSpeed.  But, noooo, not good enough for DISD. If it doesn't cost $20 million, how will we win friends and influence people?

Paul S
Paul S

It was a pretty ridiculous process to sign up. It took us three attempts with three separate visits to the school to "sign up" and we were still never actually able to sign in and use it.  This was a massively awful waste of staff time and district money for nothing. Which fittingly enough does make it a tribute to Dr Hinojosa "legacy."

A cog in the system
A cog in the system

Ask the right people in the school district and you CAN "link up kids, teachers, and records".

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

AND move to Richardson, Garland, Frisco, Plano, Arlington, ANYWHERE but the godforsaken DISD attendance area ... That, friends, is the solution.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

I vote for the FBI to come in and crack the whip.

We need indictments and prosecutions to stop the corruption and theft.

Taxpayers are getting ripped off by this district.

For the record...
For the record...

Count on no high-profile state intervention in any Texas schools until after the presidential election, as it would mar the image Perry presents.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

We all have to use email and GradeSpeed.  We all have to do online training.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

The CEI system is another boondoggle costing taxpayers.No good teacher is afraid of accountability, but the CEI system both invites lawsuits (which is good for law firms the district hires and the nepotism-istic legal dept) and requires a (literally) million-dollar consultant to come in and try to explain it.

Many teachers with 100% pass rates and high commended rates saw their CEIs go down this year.  Yeah, let's nitpick the performers bc Susie scored a 98% instead of the 99% she scored last year.  Let's call that "negative growth" and beat the obviously decent teacher down so she either quits or gives up and just mails it in from now on.  Good plan.

Sam
Sam

There are some pretty bad schools in the areas you mentioned.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Yep, I had 98.8% paasing rate on TAKS, but my CEI dropped by ten points. As long as the rallying cvry for conservatives is "value-added" and "accountability," this is what happens.

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

Well, I'm one of the only few who watches Public Access Channels, but I'll say can they put some new stuff on DSTV? The only things that are new are usally the Live Board Meetings. Theres things on there that have been around for about 10 or 20 years. Would Blackboard also uses a Class Roster to call roll? Agian, it's all about the $$$$$$$

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

We use it for grading, but nothing else.We have so much overlap.Everyone gets their piece of the tax dollars we all work so hard to earn.The school board is NOT protecting taxpayers or kids.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Why use a proven, "off the shelf" solution, when you can spend millions of dollars with your friends to develop a custom program that doesn't work as well?

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

It really is crazymaking.  If you observe my class and tell me I'm spending too much time on this, not enough on that, I can fix that.  If you tell me my math TAKS scores were too low, I can at least try to fix that.  If you tell me my CEI is a 2, and it needs to be a 3, I have no idea how to fix that.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

One teacher at our school saw their CEIs jump 60%.  60%!  Even the teacher said she did absolutely nothing different either the year they plummeted or the year they skyrocketed.

What a joke.

Joyce Foreman
Joyce Foreman

I am still trying to findout how much went to Dallas Achieves and what was left of the money when they decided to disband.  I'm thinking millions.

Joyce Foreman
Joyce Foreman

Don't forget that the $38 million for cabeling was given to a company that is not in this market.  I wonder what is the premium that we paid for that?   I am so tired of this school board acting as if its okay to waste our money.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

I'd love to know who got that juicy, totally unnecessary contract.... I'm guessing the Willis Johnson replacement or something similar?

It's all so crazy/depressing.... you've got thousands of kids that DISD basically cheats out of a future as a result of the crappy educational product they deliver, while at the same time they are wasting tens of millions of dollars on total crap.

It's mind boggling when one realizes you have complete intellectual ciphers (like Adam Medrano) presiding over this stuff and steering these contracts.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Wonder how much the school board will divert to Commit! so a whole new crew of parasites can pick up where Broad left off.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Nope, he isn't kidding.

Like I said, you can't believe the stuff they come up with...and then discard several millions of dollars later.

JD
JD

This brings up the question, where is DISD wasting our money now? Yes, the Board just voted $38 million for fiber optic cabling of all campuses.  Know of any other school district with their very own cable system? And how about the $40 million the Board voted in May to fund "digital" classrooms? Anyone want to guess how much money that we don't have  will be needed to maintain that? Never mind that it probably will never get off the ground anyway. Temporarily inactive. Maybe my bank account should be temporarily inactive when it comes time to write that property tax check.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Wait... what....???? You've got to be joking--- surely DISD isn't really building their own dedicated optical cable network? 

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

This reminds me of when DCAD decided to spend millions of dollars with some wired-in crony, building their own, somewhat crappy website instead of going with one of the much, much cheaper and better off-the-shelf solutions provided by a traditional software provider.

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

DISD=Jobs for adults and contracts for their friends.

Not cynical, just sayin'.

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

I volunteered to personally pay for the entire Travis TAG school last year and was told "it wasn't going to happen."  Gradespeed was purchased by Pearson recently and has an attendance module, district and parent portals, professional development management, and on and on... www.schoolnet.com  For all of the services It's pricey but we've already wasted over $22M on this stupid custom solution.  Yes, some of the funds came from foundations, etc and not the general fund,  but waste is waste no matter the source of the funding.  Now you need to ask why DISD is building an optical cable network to all of the schools...

A cog in the system
A cog in the system

Yes, we use Gradespeed for grading, but not for attendance. That's Chancery. Both funnel data to a third DISD data management system that hold the records and writes the report cards. I DO enter my grades promptly and often. Parent Portal was, on average, a week to two behind my gradebook.I understand one school's PTA asked to pay the Gradespeed access fee for their campus so they could access the Gradespeed parent access, and was denied by the district. By the way, I'm a teacher and I've never gotten to see Parent Portal in action, since access was for parents only.

JD
JD

Believe me, we parents asked Patti that same question,  she insisted PP would be better, give more information, that we needed our own solution. Better for who, you might ask...

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

The school board.That's why.That's always why.

We in DISD rarely ask "why" anymore.  It's all so nonsensical.  It's like living in a Dali painting.  

I could honestly tell you stuff every single week that you would find impossible to believe AND that you are paying for.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

That's what I don't understand: Since DISD teachers use it for grading, and since it integrates with the portals being used by Houston and Austin and so on, why didn't DISD just, you know, do that?

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