ESC Region 20
Educational Service Center Region 20 provides over 700 school districts, private schools and charter schools with low cost, high value technology solutions. Texas schools are not required to utilize services provided by Region 20, so Region 20 competes directly with solutions and products from the private sector.
Key Business Challenge
In 2005, a user panel comprised of stakeholders from around Texas requested that Region 20 develop a web-based grade book. Some of the issues with the existing Region 20 systems were:
- They did not allow the teachers to track and calculate daily student work and averages.
- The lack of a comprehensive product was costing districts additional money to implement third party solutions.
- The Region 20 product was less competitive than privately developed applications that offered a web-based solution for administrators, teachers and parents.
Denim Group Solution
Based upon a Region 20 design, Denim Group developed a web-based system built on a Microsoft .NET platform, which allows teachers, administrators, and other school employees to input and monitor grades and attendance. The TxGradebook, as it is called, is a browser-based application that offers many benefits over its predecessor including:
- Authentication required for each transaction. To help ensure that only authorized users are entering data into the system, the software requires users to re-enter a pin number each time attendance or grade changes are saved.
- Flexible programming. The user panel developed by Region 20 meets every quarter to provide feedback on the software's performance. Denim Group programmed the application to allow for regular modifications so that the application can easily accommodate changing user requirements.
- Centralized upgrades. Because the application is web-based, it can be updated centrally, so the process is seamless and doesn't require local installations on individual systems. There have been two new versions of the software since it was first implemented in September 2006, each with little or no disruption of day-to-day business.
- Self-registration. There is no need for a central IT technician to register users into the system. Teachers and administrators can easily register online as users to begin using the software with basic personal information.
- Security. The system hosts very sensitive student and teacher data, so the security of the system was just as important as the functionality. Denim Group utilized an architecture and development approach that produced both a functional and secure system.
“Denim Group's ability to manage the project as iterative phases was a critical component in enabling Region 20 to achieve crucial deadlines,” says John McCauley, Associate Director of Information Technology for Region 20. “We have been extremely pleased with Denim Group, and we are excited to have them working on our next offering.”
This next offering will be a “Parent Portal”, also a web-based solution where parents can monitor their child's grades and attendance on a daily or even hourly basis. The combination of the TxGradebook and Parent Portal makes Region 20 competitive with privately developed software currently on the market.