Local News

Glitches In Problematic N.C. WISE Leave Students With Failing Grades

Posted February 13, 2006

— Students and parents say glitches in a statewide school administration computer system have resulted in some students actually failing classes.

"This is so frustrating and so upsetting," said Pam Taylor. "You don't actually know what to do with it. You don't have a clue."

Taylor's daughter failed three subjects as a result of teachers improperly entering grades into the computer system, known as N.C. WISE.

Education leaders have touted N.C. WISE as a uniform computer system linking every school in the state. Armed with detailed information, it was meant for educators to better track achievement and craft curricula. It also offers grade books for teachers, electronic transcripts for college and data for parents.

Cumberland County was one of the first school systems to install and use the application; and officials believe that may be why there have been problems.

School officials don't blame the computer system. They say teachers made the mistake.

"Folks were doing the very best they knew to do," said Kathy Dickson, with the Cumberland County School System. "It was human error."

With thousands of people inputting data into the N.C. WISE system, Dickson said the school system has provided additional training and support for individuals in hopes of helping to avoid grading errors.

Even though Taylor's grades were corrected, Taylor said she worries that the grade mix-up could happen to her daughter again.

"If the system's going to do what it wants with their grades, why should they even study?" Taylor said. "That's what their mentality is."

N.C. WISE has faced problems since it started seven years ago and has been plagued by complaints, delays and cost overruns of more than $100 million. Overall costs are now projected to top $250 million.

Last week, the State Board of Education terminated its agreement with IBM to develop the information system. Educators had hoped it would be complete and running by now, but only one-third of the project is complete.


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