Balky NC computer system irks high school seniors

Posted February 27, 2014 7:27 p.m. EST

— A new state computer system intended to be a resource for parents, students, teachers and school administrators is plagued with problems.

The PowerSchool program was rolled out last summer to replace a system known as NC Wise and is used to access grades, transcripts and student athletic eligibility among other uses.

As with the new systems used to process Medicaid claims and deliver food stamps, PowerSchool has experienced repeated glitches, such as teachers being unable to update grades and high school seniors being unable to access transcripts needed for college applications.

Enloe High School senior Lukas Lyon said Thursday that the system is essentially failing him and other college applicants because its unable to calculate midyear GPAs, update class ranks and send transcripts to schools.

"The colleges that we applied to need our midyear grades to determine if they want to accept us," Lyon said. "This has added a whole new level of stress to (the application process)."

Rosalyn Galloway, who oversees PowerSchool for the state Department of Public Instruction, said the agency tested the system before it went online in July.

"We tried to anticipate where we could," Galloway said. "Naturally, because we didn't have all the data converted, we couldn't test everything."

DPI and vendor Pearson are continually addressing issues, but new ones pop up each month as others are resolved, she said.

One problem is that there are 253 different versions of PowerSchool because each school district and each charter school has customized it for their individual policies, procedures and requirements.

The college transcript one, however, is very time-sensitive for seniors.

"We've been working around the clock to try and get that completed," Galloway said. "I would like to see it early next week, if we can get it that soon."

Lyon said such assurances are of little comfort.

"As reassuring as that sounds, it's really not that reassuring at all because the deadline has long passed," he said.

Galloway said North Carolina colleges have promised to be understanding about the transcript delays, but there are no guarantees for out-of-state schools.