Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

An 'Intelligent' Implementation

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

An 'Intelligent' Implementation

Article excerpt

A NUMBER OF K-12 DISTRICTS around the country have implemented successful business intelligence (BI) initiatives in the past decade. None, however, has done a better job of leveraging best practices taken from the private sector than The School District of Palm Beach County in West Palm Beach, FL.

The 11th-largest district in the US, Palm Beach County numbers 227 schools and serves roughly 170,000 students. The district's technology infrastructure includes nearly 40,000 computers.

The district began laying the foundation for a data warehouse in 2001, and then launched a BI initiative two years later. Its goal was to unify siloed information scattered in disparate systems and applications throughout Palm Beach County to provide better-quality data analysis and improved decision-making. The resulting system, the Educational Data Warehouse (EDW; www.pa/mbeach.k12.f/.us/edw), was rolled out to administrators in November 2007. The system's business intelligence and reporting capabilities are provided by IBM's Cognos BI solution (ibm.com/software/data/cognos).

The Palm Beach BI project began with strong support from the top: the district's superintendent, Arthur Johnson.

"He's the kind of guy who likes to see the data before he makes a decision," says Michael Via, manager in charge of applications for the EDW. "Because we had his backing and push from the beginning, it wasn't that hard to bring everybody else on board."

And Palm Beach County never fell into the "technology first" trap, says Diane Conley, the district's director of technology. "We started with a steering committee. We had administrators and representatives from the district office involved. …

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