New system aims to help schools retain special education teachers by relieving their administrative burden
The Hawaii Department of Education has purchased a new World Wide Web-based
system to help the department identify, track and service special education
The department bought the system, scheduled to be ready for use in October
as 250 schools go online, to reduce the administrative burden on its special
education teachers. Each special education case requires careful documentation
to ensure that federal and state mandates are being met. And Tom
Saka, information technology director for the department, estimates
that the department is losing 20 to 30 percent of its special education
teachers to burnout as a result.
The new Integrated Special Education (ISPED) system will pool information
collected over a period of time, greatly eliminating duplication. The department
estimates that the system will cut down paperwork by 85 percent.
ISPED will assist teachers from initial problem identification through
the evaluation and eligibility process, and will help them determine the
need for special services, such as speech therapy, mental health counseling,
and physical therapy. Once a sufficient database is built up, the system
will also be a resource for obtaining those special services.
The department bought the system, developed by Spectria and run on Lotus
Development Corp.'s Domino platform, for $1.5 million. It was developed
specifically for the Hawaii system, but is now being marketed to other departments.
"We needed something that was end-to-end, a complete system," Saka said. The department hired KPMG Consulting to investigate existing systems, but none were sufficient.
The department also spent about $1.2 million to buy 500 laptops — two
for each school — so that teachers have mobility when working with parents
to evaluate students. All of Hawaii's schools are networked.
After the system is set up for the roughly 3,000 teachers, administrators
and counselors, Saka said the department expects to allow parents to access
the system with a user name and password.
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