December 21, 2009 - Knoxville, TN. Nearly 100 people turned out earlier this month for the formal launch of the Education Management Information System (EMIS) for Knox County Schools, the first of its kind in the country.
Jointly sponsored by Knox County Schools, the Knoxville Chamber and Follett Software Company, the event was held Dec. 11 at Gresham Middle School Auditorium in Knoxville. The speaker lineup include Dr. James McIntyre, superintendent of Knox County Schools; Mike Edwards, president and CEO, Knoxville Chamber; and Ed Kisman, vice president of sales, Follett Software Company. Also featured was a demonstration of the EMIS, which Edwards called "a game-changer" for the K-12 school district and its more than 56,000 students.
A pivotal part of the overall program is the implementation of a TetraData warehouse and analytics solutions from Follett Software, a D3M solution designed to enable Knox County teachers and administrators to make informed, data-driven decisions about the future direction of the school system and each individual student.
While the EMIS has been under development for the past 18 months, the data system has been tested as part of a pilot program at 17 Knox County schools since September. Over the course of the next nine months, it is anticipated that the warehouse will be rolled out to all 87 Knox County schools.
Traditionally, and as acknowledged by Knox County Schools, school districts collect massive amounts of data but struggle to transform that date into useable knowledge.
"What would have taken an educator hours, days or weeks to collect, now only takes a few clicks and the data is made available," Follett Software’s Kisman told the audience.
The genesis for the project goes back a few years as businesses in the Knoxville area noticed that high school graduates were not college-ready or didn’t have the basic skills they needed for employment, they decided to get directly involved. As a result, the Knoxville Area Chamber Partnership backed an aggressive drive to help the schools track and correlate student performance, demographic and financial data, with the goal of improving student performance and producing a highly educated work force.
"Given where education is across the country, especially in these economic times, it’s refreshing to see businesses get involved in improving education in their local school district," Kisman said. "The Knox Chamber model is an example of innovative ways that organizations, companies and community can take responsibility and initiative to influence student outcomes and develop future leaders of our country. It is our hope to see similar models adopted with other districts and communities across the state and the country."
Kisman added that the Knoxville model goes beyond merely including the standard data that most districts include in their systems.
"What makes it unique is that Knox required additional data including school level financial data to assess the effectiveness of spending on student achievement," Kisman said. "This is just the beginning of what will become a shift to a data culture within the district and the community. Moreover, our solutions will continue to grow in scalability and functionality as not only new technologies become available, but also working through with Knox to see additional opportunities integrate into our solutions. We constantly strive to deliver cutting edge technology that 21st century school districts need."
Additionally, Kisman praised the Knoxville Chamber for its innovative efforts to positively influence education in the district, and also saluted Knox County Schools for its eagerness to embrace the program and how it perfectly corresponds with the district’s five-year strategic plan – "Building on Strength: Excellence for All Children" – that was rolled out in late 2008 by then-new Superintendent McIntyre.
"From the very beginning, the commitment, passion and motivation were apparent among everyone involved at the district and chamber," Kisman told attendees. "Follett Software Company is sincerely honored to be a part of your leadership in education and is delighted to be a part of this journey to ensure that students in Knox County Schools are prepared for life beyond the classroom."