What if educators could instantly and securely access and analyze students’ academic and discipline records, get expert strategies for improvement, and track the results?
Schools are suspending and expelling children in record numbers. Not only are these children at risk for academic failure, but their problematic behavior ripples through the entire school system, disrupting classrooms, preventing teachers from teaching, and impeding schools from meeting federally mandated academic proficiency goals.
“Everybody loses when schools resort to discipline that excludes children from learning — including learning appropriate social behavior,” said Amy McCart, assistant research professor.
McCart and colleagues have partnered with several Kansas schools to successfully implement school-wide positive behavior support programs that have reduced disciplinary actions. And in a number of schools, student scores in math and/or reading have also climbed.
Now this expertise could be available to educators in the form of a real-time, web-based product called the eServe Initiative. Supported by a U. S. Department of Education Small Business Innovation Research Program grant, the innovative software program was developed through a partnership between the McCart group and Software Out tters, Inc., a software development firm headed by Rob Harsh, CEO, based in Overland Park, Kansas.
Existing student data management programs used by schools are generally cumbersome and relegated to crunching data required for state and federal reporting requirements, according to McCart.
The eServe Initiative goes far beyond data management and analysis for administrative use. Designed for classroom teachers as well as administrators, the program can identify and offer fine-tuned strategies to improve the performance and behavior of individuals and groups of students.
“There’s nothing else like this,” said McCart. “Our program would allow school districts to make system-level changes without an ongoing need for expensive, external consultants.”
The eServe Initiative can take student data from any school district application, link it to analysis modules, profile and report student discipline and academic demographics, monitor ongoing behavioral and academic interventions, identify at-risk students, and provide dynamic, individualized recommendations.
The Phase One SBIR grant is evaluating the technical merit, efficacy and feasibility of the second generation web-based program based on an earlier prototype that was piloted for two years in USD 500 in Wyandotte County, Kansas.
“That’s when we learned that teachers and administrators needed more than data management and analysis--they needed immediate and specific recommendations on how to change problem behavior,” McCart explained.
If the outcomes of the Phase One SBIR grant are promising, McCart’s group and Software Out tters will apply for a Phase Two SBIR to fully research and develop products with strong commercial viability and marketability. McCart and her partners believe that the eServe Initiative has real commercial potential in a national market.
“Educators’ need for effective and responsive ways of dealing with problem behavior has never been greater,” said McCart, “if we are to keep children in school and meet the mandates of No Child Left Behind.”