What Is NC WISE?

by Beverly White and Christina Winter

Imagine what public education would be like if every teacher, principal, counselor, nurse and central-office staff member had direct access on a need-to-know basis to full information about a student’s kindergarten through 12 th-grade school records?

In North Carolina, we have taken the first major steps to that ideal capacity becoming a reality.

Last October, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction began a six-year implementation of a system to manage education information and accountability. The project is known as NC WISE (North Carolina Window of Information on Student Education).

The NC WISE project is an Internet-based, secure tool for effectively managing student information and supporting instruction in public schools.

Various Uses

Examples of accessible student information include attendance, student grades, standardized test scores, class schedules and contact information. NC WISE supports federal and state reporting requirements and will implement the secure electronic transfer of student transcripts to North Carolina private and public colleges and universities and other post-secondary institutions. NC WISE also will allow electronic transfer of student records for students moving from one North Carolina school district to another.

Ultimately NC WISE will benefit 1.4 million North Carolina students in more than 2,250 public and charter schools. The application will support the business and instructional functions performed by over 180,000 teachers, administrators and other school personnel. All 115 North Carolina school districts and 98 charter schools will be tied to NC WISE by 2007.

Beginning in October 2003, six North Carolina school districts piloted NC WISE: Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Catawba, Cumberland, Gates, Wake County and Whiteville City. Now more than 30 school districts are in full implementation and more than 3,000 NC WISE users are online daily.

The Expense Side

As of the end of January, the estimated implementation cost of NC WISE is $251 million allocated to the following three organizational components: Department of Public Instruction, $204,480,000 (including all contract and internal costs); upgrades in local school districts, $40,613,000 (paid in part through state and federal resources); and upgrades in charter schools, $5,768,000.

While the simple ticket price of NC WISE runs into the millions of dollars, the state education department estimates that the cost per student over the 10-year-period (2000-2010) averages $17 per student per year. This annual cost includes student services such as generating report cards for 1.4 million students per year, generating progress reports each marking period, storing all test and achievement data, generating electronic transcripts for admission to post- secondary opportunities, tracking attendance, maintaining electronic permanent records and generating information for state and federal reporting requirements.

Depending on the organizational level, the funding for NC WISE comes from different sources. At the state agency level, funds are provided by the state legislature in the Uniform Education Reporting System appropriation. At the school district level, funding sources include state funds appropriated specifically for school tevchnology, federal e-rate funds and local school funds and money allocated by county boards of commissioners.

For further information, visit www.ncwise.com.