Los Angeles Unified School District's technology team is ironing out scheduling, attendance and grading software bugs ahead of spring semester, according to an outside monitor's report.
Viramontes Group found only 400 of the district's 650,000 students are without schedules three weeks before students return from winter break, far fewer than the thousands of kids who packed auditoriums and libraries in August for lack of classes.
The district initially earmarked about $30 million to customize the My Integrated Student Data System (MiSiS) and another $28 million to fix glitches and update computers in school offices. The district also set aside $630,000 to hire retired educators to correct errors in the system-generated college transcripts.
Administrators are expected to return to the school board for more funding in February.
"With these improvements, I am confident that MiSiS will prove to be a landmark achievement for LAUSD," said Superintendent Ramon Cortines in an email to board members Friday, the day of the report’s release.
But challenges with the system continue. Help desk operators still struggle to assist staff and 167 known bugs remain, according the report.
Steve Kelman, professor of public management at Harvard University, said public agencies often run into trouble when they develop their own software as LAUSD did with MiSiS.
“Very frequently [they] run over budget, don’t perform well and sometimes don’t even work at all,” Kelman said. He advises public officials to purchase off-the-shelf software whenever possible.
After the district invested millions in the system, developers fixed all but 15 bugs in the grade book, according to the monitor's report. Last week, teachers were able to enter 1.5 million of 1.7 million grades so student report cards could be sent to parents.
The Viramontes Group reported a 90 percent drop in duplicate records, an 80 percent reduction in students without schedules and a 70 percent decline in students missing from the system.
Cortines has estimated that fixes to the MiSis system could take as long as a year.