Using the Force.com platform to ensure Colorado’s Schools build and deliver high quality, actionable Unified Improvement Plans
The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) is a national leader in establishing guidelines and processes to help public schools and districts build annual Unified Improvement Plans (UIP). As part of a 2009 state legislative directive, CDE became responsible for ensuring that its approximately 2,000 public schools and districts create the UIP in a fashion that puts them on track to yield measurable results. They initially achieved this using a system of templates, document merge, and brute force manual effort. Although this “system” did meet their primary charge, CDE had an ambitious vision for what the UIP program could be with automation using the Salesforce.com platform. Their mission: build a state-of-the-art cloud based application that would embed their strategies, resemble their custom processes, and strengthen the quality of educational improvement initiatives within our Colorado schools.
Vertiba was selected by CDE to improve and streamline the UIP process by creating a single online system to collect and evaluate data, plan improvement strategies, and implement their action plans. CDE‘s vision for a new online system was intended to address the following shortcomings of the previous manual processes, including:
- Inconsistent quality of UIPs from across the state
- Highly complex business processes
- Lack of a means to distribute and maintain historical records of the plans
- Disparate applications across school districts
- Complex data rules to comply with state and federal guidelines
- Cumbersome submission, review and approval processes
- No feedback loop to previous plan year to show progress
- Time consuming process of generating and publishing reports for the public
We built a highly available, cloud-based application for schools, school districts, Alternative Education Campuses (AEC), and CDE to use to comply with the UIP process. Vertiba quickly assessed the current process and designed a solution to provide simplicity and efficiency for both CDE and the schools. Vertiba’s solution was a 100% custom turnkey solution based on Force.com platform.
“We worked closely with CDE to create an application that will ultimately service our community and kids to improve the educational experience.” – Lynn Lannin, Solution Architect
The solution included an interactive timeline and roadmap dashboards that displayed a consistent look across the community. Wizard-like navigation assisted each school to develop their plan by pre-populating information from the previous year then tying together the challenges, root causes, and improvement strategies. A custom plan and timeline is developed driven by business rules based on scores and each school’s performance.
Vertiba simplified the plan development and publishing process by automating the report generation process, enabling the creation with a single click of a button. The solution provided further automation by enabling the reports to be saved to a Google Drive. Vertiba delivered the UIP application to CDE on time and met the objectives to simplify and improve their business processes while delivering uniform plans across all schools, AEC, and districts. The application ensured consistency while adapting to the differences of each institution.
“Vertiba built us a completely custom application, going above and beyond to help make the experience for schools and districts exceptional.” – Lisa Steffen, Project Coordinator, Colorado Department of Education
This cloud-based application reduces the time to create, approve, and publish the plan while providing greater visibility into the continual improvement process. The value was delivered through:
- Extremely user-friendly web application that pre-populates prior year’s data and repetitive information while guiding through the input process with a wizard-like interface
- Easy-to-use, central repository to work cohesively for state administrators to manage the UIP process for school and student achievement
- Automation in Salesforce to simplify project tracking and improve each school’s planning process
- Development of a framework to summarize school’s performance in one dashboard by tracking academic achievement, growth, growth gaps, and accountability
- Improvement of collaboration and data quality across all Colorado school districts
- Reduction in time to approve and publish the UIP
In the end this application has become a valuable tool for all stakeholders to use in evaluating, planning, and implementing their UIP while reducing time and cost around the process.