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NY school system's supercomputer derided as disaster

In March of last year IBM and the city of NY announced that they were installing an $80M supercomputer. To refresh your memory

In order to measure how well public school students are learning, the New York City will spend $80 million on a supercomputer designed to analyze the performance of the city’s 1.1 million school kids. Mayor Bloomberg said the cost is worth it.

Wonder how that’s going? Not too good.

The New York Post ran a story at the end of February (sorry about the delayed posting) headlined “SCHOOLS COMPUTER AN $80M ‘DISASTER’” (all caps their choice, not mine).

According to the Post the machine is evidently not a hit with teachers or principals (aka, users)

Nearly six months after the Department of Education unveiled the “first of its kind” data-management system, the city’s 80,000 teachers have yet to log on because of glitches and delays.

The system is known as ARIS and

“It’s a disaster. We don’t consider it particularly useful for us,” said one Staten Island principal, who did not want to be identified. “We’re doing what we have to do, but ARIS isn’t helping.”

Evidently not everyone is irritated. The Post did manage to find a positive comment

Tracy Walsh, principal of PS 48 in Washington Heights, said ARIS had already enabled her data team to analyze the performance trends of the school’s many English-language learners.

NYC Council members David Yassky and Robert Jackson agree, as outlined in a letter [PDF] from them to the Chancellor of the NYC Department of Education which closes with this gem

In light of the recent cuts to the education budget, it would be a misallocation of resources to continue spending money on this failed system. I urge you to terminate the remainder of the ARIS program which we understand has already lost $35 million. The remaining $45 million should be put back into the education budget to help offset recent cuts.

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  1. [...] New York has a troubled recent past with publicly funded HPC investments. Early this year a controversy erupted over the $80M supercomputing investment the NYC school system made as the New York Post ran a story [...]

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