New York City Scraps Obsolete ARIS Data System


New York City has decided to jettison a $95 million computer system meant for tracking and distributing student scores and other data.

The Achievement Reporting and Information System, ARIS, was implemented by the Education Department in 2007, giving access to student test scores as well as instructional resources for specific exams to teachers and parents. The system contains records for over 1 million former and current students, making it one of the largest databases in the city. However, critics complain it is clunky and slow.

In 2012, an audit of the system by then-controller John Liu found that it was not being used as much as officials had hoped for, and there was no system in place to determine how much it actually helped student achievement.

As of the 2012-2013 school year, the system was only in use by 3% of parents and 16% of teachers, according to Education Department officials. Teachers and parents report that the lack of use stems from the inability to use the system for detailed student information such as up-to-date grades and homework assignments.

In addition, former schools Chancellor Joel Klein, who had overseen the creation of the system, has been under criticism for receiving millions of dollars for maintaining the system with his company Amplify.

But Amplify spokesman Justin Hamilton says the company did its job the way it was supposed to.

"Six years ago we were called in to fix this project when it was well underway. We did so on time and on budget," said Hamilton. "We've been working over the past two years to wind down maintenance-level work because of potential plans to transition to a new state system with similar — and, in some cases — overlapping functions."

According to the Education Department, all of it will end in 2015.

"The Education Department has decided to end our contract with Amplify as a result of the extremely high cost of the ARIS system, its limited functionality, and the lack of demand from parents and staff," said agency spokeswoman Devora Kaye.

"The shockingly low usage of ARIS shows that the vast majority of families and Education Department staff don't find it a valuable tool," Kaye added. "By developing an internal program we'll not only save millions of dollars, but better serve parents and school communities."

In its place will come a new system created by the Education Department. Much like ARIS, the new system will provide parents and teachers with an online platform to access data pertaining to student achievement.

It is not clear exactly how much the new system will cost, but officials for the Education Department maintain that money already set aside for ARIS will be used.

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