a data warehouse solution and put out an RFP to find a vendor.

"We basically took the audits, with specific emphasis on what needed to be fixed, and put it into our request for proposal," said Robert Piro, CIO of the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED). "Deloitte Consulting presented us with a solution based on eScholar and Cognos."

With eScholar, an educational data collection and analysis tool, and Cognos business intelligence software, Deloitte created a commercial-off-the-shelf system that allows school districts to collect data as they've always done.

"In New Mexico, there are a dozen or more student information system vendors that have systems in place in one or more of the 89 school districts. The last thing we wanted to do is mandate that they all use the same system," Benowitz said. With the STARS solution, school districts can continue using their existing systems and produce a flat extract data file that can be uploaded to the data warehouse automatically.

New Mexico implemented the system in nine months. "We started the prototype in December of 2005, and then did a pilot with 11 districts in spring 2006," Piro said. "We're now in our second year of data collection."

 
Overcoming Resistance
One of New Mexico's biggest hurdles was change management. Since the system was implemented in less than one year, there was pushback at the district level from some educators.

"When you have so many different entities that are basically independent, doing things a certain way, it's hard," Soto said. "Some people saw it as, 'Here comes Big Brother.'"

Although school districts could keep their internal systems, the move to STARS required a redefinition of processes for what kind of data to collect and when to collect it. This caused some consternation from districts that already had workflows in place.

Daryl Landavazo, New Mexico's STARS IT project manager, said the districts have been collecting student-level data for some time. "So the assumption was, 'We're using data; we know how to report, and we know what we're collecting,'" he said. "But that's not always the case."

To combat resistance, the STARS team marketed a proof-of-concept system to both the school districts and the Legislature. "We showed them the proof of concept, and said,

Kayt Sukel  |  Contributing Writer
Kayt Sukel is a writer based near Frankfurt, Germany. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Government Health IT and Healthcare Informatics.