2007_03_hal9000.jpgThe city is giving IBM an $80 million contract to create a supercomputer to track public school students. Accrding to the Daily News, computer's program will be called "ARIS" - "Achievement Reporting and Innovation System" - and will be able to track a student's biographical details, education needs, education history, test scores, etc., and provide up-to-the-minute information. From the News:

The [interim tests student take will] measure whether kids have mastered specific skills, such as multiplying fractions or distinguishing fact from opinion, at different times of the year.

Teachers will be able to see an entire classroom of results at once. Principals will be able to see an entire school.

Parents eventually will have access to their own kids' data plus summary facts about their child's school, the results of parent, student and teacher surveys and details about how their school scored on annual reviews.

Much of the data will be folded into letter grades that soon will be assigned to all 1,400 city schools.

Teachers union head Randi Weingarten said, "You can lower a lot of class sizes with that money - or buy a lot of supplies." It does seem extravagant to invest in an $80 million computer system when many teachers must buy supplies with their own money, but we suppose that's how the Bloomberg-Klein Department of Education rolls. Mayor Bloomberg said, "Every child in this city deserves a quality education and we will spare no expense." Oh, right, but not necessarily a bus ride to get the quality education. ARIS will be running by this September 2007 and parents will have access by September 2008. And the DOE says it did get 19 bids.

The City Council is not happy with the mayor's plan to give more principals autonomy of schools. Last September, Mayor Bloomberg empowered principals to run their schools without supervision from superintendents. City Council members don't think there's enough evidence that the mayor's plan worked, but the NY Times calls the $80 million super computer a "major step...toward holding principals accountable for the results in their schools."