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Fort Worth district teachers say student data system still isn't working

FORT WORTH -- The school district's student data system still has glitches six weeks into the school year, with grades and sometimes entire student records disappearing and reappearing, teachers told trustees Tuesday night.

A handful of teachers and teacher representatives spoke to the board about grades, attendance records and other student data not being recorded properly. They said teachers are trying to work with the system, but many are worried because report card information is due soon.

"We are being asked to use a system that is not ready," teacher Beverly Stergeos said.

The district implemented the $4.9 million information system, called Connects, this year to manage scheduling, attendance and grading.

Stergeos, who has been teaching in the district 34 years, said she attended a summer training session but called it sketchy. She said teachers are being asked to sign off that they were trained on the system and know how to use it when, in fact, they do not.

Rose Elliott, a teacher at Carter Park Elementary, said that many teachers have not been trained properly on the grade book portion of the system and that training has not been consistent across the district.

Attendance records are not accurate, she said. For example, a student will suddenly show up in the system and be counted as present even though he was never at school. Students will show up on class rolls and then suddenly disappear.

"We seem to be making [this] up as we go along," Elliott said.

Teachers have been portrayed as being reluctant to work with the system, she said. "We are not the enemy, but that is the way we are treated."

Administrators'

response

Administrators said they tested the program in summer school and have been training employees to use it since September 2009. Teachers could attend optional training this summer.

In a presentation Tuesday night, administrators said they have created job-based focus groups to work on problems and have created a help line. Online reference guides are also available.

Chief Technology Officer Kyle Davie said the district has added additional servers that have helped. Training for report cards has been ongoing this week, he said."While we have had some challenges, we feel very confident that we've been able to identify them," he said. "We're going to work with them to get through it."

Robert Ray, chief of schools, said class scheduling problems are not completely fixed but have been reduced to a few isolated incidents.

Trustee Carlos Vasquez said he receives nearly a half-dozen complaints on the system each day.

"There's a disconnect from what you're telling us and what we hear from the teachers," Vasquez said. "We're still not focusing on the problems that we have."

Eva-Marie Ayala, 817-390-7700

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