Teachers in Gloucester County Public Schools will have a new tool at hand when they return to their classrooms this fall. Last week, school division assessment director Lora Price and software development coordinator Dan Holloway unveiled a new student data warehouse that will change the way teachers access student background information.
In the past, teachers had to go to a file cabinet to research a student’s SOL scores, other academic records or results of their diagnostic tests. Now all of that information, including student demographics, attendance and discipline records, will be online at one site and easily accessed by teachers from their computers.
The data bank was created as a web application, Price explained, so it does not require the installation of software on individual computers. It can also be easily updated and maintained.
Price demonstrated the ease of using the data warehouse for the Gloucester School Board during its special meeting last Thursday. With permission, she went online and accessed the school records for the son of a division employee. With just a few clicks, Price showed the board a sampling of the student’s academic history.
"Is that cool or what," superintendent Ben Kiser asked as Price finished her demonstration. "Fantastic. Absolutely wonderful," said chairman Ann Burruss, who recalled the amount of time she spent digging through student files during her tenure as a teacher.
The board members expressed some concern regarding the security of the system but Price explained the tiers of accessibility teachers will have, based on the grade levels of their students. She also said that, although teachers already understand the importance of confidentiality when it comes to student records, confidentiality will be stressed again when teachers are trained to use the data warehouse.
"I think our teachers have come a long way in recognizing the importance of, and using, data," Price said. "This just puts it all in one place and makes it easier for them to utilize."