Date: May 22, 2014
To: Michael Green
From: Steve Rippl
Subject: Tech Dept. Executive Summary
We just got through a few weeks of MSP and SBAC testing on the computers, and certainly for the MSP portion it was our worst year to date! I don’t know if the testing company, DRC, were caught unaware by the increased numbers of schools participating this year, or they simply stopped trying, as this was their final year in charge of the software side of things. But we were hit by a double blow of repeated problems at their end, and a bug in the Linux version of their testing client. We worked directly with them on the bug (in fact we predicted the exact fault from our examination of their log files). But, it still took them 2 full weeks to release a fix. The Middle School was saved by this, but the Intermediate School’s schedule took the full brunt of the disruptions.
On the brighter side, the SBAC testing went well and looks to be better quality software. We did have an issue with the audio portion one day, but worked that out by the next; and, that’s why I’m glad to have taken part in the field test. We’ll be quite familiar with the system when it counts next year.
Chromebooks are getting very popular in schools, and just last month, Battle Ground hosted a get-together of local district tech leaders to share their experiences so far. While there is certainly an acknowledgment of the limited nature of the devices (they are basically a cheap laptop with a web browser), they have been very well received by staff and students; especially when combined with Google Apps. And the fact that Google has worked with the SBAC folks to get the State test working on them makes them a very attractive, low cost way to increase testing capacity (some of our 11th grade SBAC field testers took the test this year on our Chromebooks).
Finally, we are beginning to make plan for the summer. The biggest piece is the hopeful wiring upgrades, which will make a big difference in a lot of locations here, combined with a modest broadening of our wireless coverage, which should give us quite a bit more flexibility in all buildings. On the Microsoft side of things, we are hoping to move to their SCCM system for management of Windows clients. It is not cheap, but it gives us modern tools for deploying applications, and includes security (anti-virus) protection, so we can give up our existing AV subscription. This will no doubt be a tricky transition but we’ll start early enough to give us time to iron out the kinks.