IBM System Thinks About Higher Learning

IBM  said today it is creating a computer system for New York City’s Department of Education to help teachers and parents gauge the performance of students.

IBM will install and manage the Achievement Reporting and Innovation System (ARIS) computer system as part of a five-year, $80 million contract with the city.

The system, one of the fruits of IBM’s ballyhooed, $1 billion information-on-demand initiative for improving the way organizations manage information, includes a combination of IBM hardware, software and services.

ARIS will offer teachers and parents access to information about students’ progress reports and standardized exams, and allow them to adjust the curriculum to meet individual needs.

New York can benefit from such a system; as the nation’s largest school district, it comprises 1,458 schools more than 1.1 million students, and 90,000 teachers.

Jim Liebman, chief accountability officer for New York’s Department of Education, said on a conference call today that ARIS will help meet technology goals outlined in the city’s “children first” reforms to put the highest quality principals, teachers and resources into the schools.

“The ARIS system will empower principals and teachers, and parents and students as well, with the detailed and readily available information that everyone needs to diagnose and improve each student’s learning capacity,” Liebman said.

Liebman said ARIS will provide an early-warning and diagnostic system for spotting students’ hidden strengths and weaknesses in math, English, history and other subjects.

ARIS will become available to schools in September 2007. Parents will receive progress reports on their students performance and progress beginning in fall 2007, and will be able to access the system online by September 2008.

Liebman said the DOE unanimously selected IBM’s proposal from a pool of five that included 19 major technology and education-focused firms.

The agreement allows Big Blue to put another feather in its information-on-demand cap, a segment that IBM reported growth of 42 percent in the fourth quarter of 2006.

IBM launched its information-on-demand play in February 2006, pledging to pump $1 billion into the project over five years to help corporate customers get a handle on the millions of terabytes of data in their computing systems.

IBM claims it is the only company offering such comprehensive information management technology, but Oracle  and EMC  expect to challenge Big Blue in this arena, having purchased several companies in the last few years.

IBM has other information-on-demand projects percolating, including a joint effort with the New York Police Department on the Real Time Crime Center.
The center is a data warehouse that provides police detectives a single point of access to information on all crimes in the five boroughs.

The center, which IBM Software Senior Vice President discussed
with, uses a database and other information management software to detect crime patterns as they are forming. This system tries to help police prevent spikes in criminal activity.

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