Marion County Schools purchase integrated student performance management system

The all-in-one SASIxpTM/ ConcertTM solution from Pearson Digital Learning will provide infrastructure for a completely integrated data-driven district

Ocala, Fla., March 30, 2004 -- The School Board for Marion County Public Schools (MCPS) last week approved the purchase of a comprehensive learning technology solution from Pearson Digital Learning that will unify student information, instruction, assessment, and reporting into one centralized system. The district-wide initiative is an integral step in the implementation of the district's Continuous Improvement Model (CIM), a proven, quality-based approach designed to raise student performance.

Similar to the Total Quality Management approach, Marion County's Continuous Improvement Model sets high expectations for staff and students, and provides a research-based, multi-step approach for achieving excellence.

"One of our goals is to lead the state in student performance.  Another is to achieve student mastery levels of 80 percent, despite Florida's state grading scale that designates 70 percent as a "C" grade," said Jim Yancey, superintendent of Marion County Public Schools.  "If we shoot for average, we'll only be average.  If we shoot for excellence, our students will achieve excellence.  It's a performance-based, data-driven approach that requires nothing short of a revolution in how we do everything from gathering data to assessing performance to delivering instruction."  

Indeed, MCPS's Continuous Improvement Model requires an individualized process for each one of the district's 40,000-plus students. According to Barrington Williamson, chief technology officer at MCPS, this simply could not be carried out without a sophisticated, centralized, information strategy, the heart of which is a comprehensive student information system.

"We did a diligent search and found that Pearson Digital Learning's SASIxp/Concert is a one-of-a-kind, end-to-end solution that ties together all the necessary pieces that allow this process to take place seamlessly, from classroom level on up," said Williamson.  "Central to the CIM is what we call 'Plan-Do-Check-Act.' The first step is a careful analysis of student performance data, and planning the instructional calendar.   Next is delivering the instructional focus in the classroom, followed by checking the assessment, maintenance, and monitoring of the instructional focus. Finally, acting provides enrichment and tutorials.  There's just no other solution that can facilitate a process this broad and deep."

Used by more schools nationwide than any other student information system, SASIxp provides the perfect data foundation for a comprehensive student improvement strategy.  Leveraging SASIxp's vast information and functionality, Concert brings all the data together in one location and provides the tools for administrators, teachers, students, and parents to integrate standards-aligned instruction, lesson planning, assessment, and educational content  in one easy-to-use system.

The SASIxp/Concert Student Performance Management System also accommodates the reporting requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act and enables users to account for such things as transportation, Medicaid, free or reduced lunches, E-rate applications and state initiatives, some of the considerations that fueled the district's decision for a centralized service model. 

"Marion County has, in essence, developed the program that will achieve the promise and full extent of what technology can offer," said Jack Lynch, president of Pearson Digital Learning.  "And SASIxp/Concert is the only system in the market that can support that vision.  It's a complete solution, one system unifying information, instruction, assessment and reporting.  We applaud Marion County's vision and count ourselves honored to be their partners as they undertake this pioneering effort."

While the purchase of Pearson Digital's administrative solutions is new, MCPS has been a long-time user of SuccessMaker® , the company's award-winning K-6 courseware system, the NovaNET® online curriculum system for grades 6-12, and the Waterford Early Reading ProgramTM .

"Products like SuccessMaker are so, so valuable to our mission.  They provide standards-aligned lessons that address individual learning styles and pace.  And the regular assessment component shows us exactly what learning takes place with every student regardless of race or socioeconomic background,"  said Yancey.

"You can see how powerful an integrated solution like this will be.  Through our CIM and the new centralized technology strategy, we will be able to bridge the digital divide that previously existed among the schools and provide safe computing, accurate data, improved accountability and the tools and resources needed to enhance student performance," he said.

About Marion County Public Schools

"Leading the State in Raising Student Performance" is the driving vision of Marion County Public Schools.  Boasting over 40,000 students and 5,300 employees, MCPS is the largest employer in Marion County.  With 46 schools and more than a dozen support facilities, success in the classroom stems from strong teachers willing to make a difference and students anxious, eager, and determined to learn.  In 2003, eighty-seven percent of public schools in Marion County were graded "A" or "B" by the State of Florida.   A district-wide Continuous Improvement Model, or CIM, drives every lesson in every classroom.  Regular assessments help teachers determine if students are learning what they're supposed to be learning based on Florida's Sunshine State Standards.  If they are, students receive additional challenges to stimulate further learning.  If they're not, they receive immediate help.  Academic calendars are planned well in advance but are constantly updated and adjusted to reflect how and what students are learning.  For more information on Marion County Public Schools, log on to

About Pearson Digital Learning

Working side by side with educators for over 40 years, Pearson Digital Learning is the leader in proven, comprehensive technologies for preK-12 education. Our mission is to provide innovative, research-based digital learning solutions that elevate the art and science of teaching, and inspire children to reach their greatest potential. Reaching more than 20 million students annually, our products include: the SuccessMaker® Enterprise and NovaNET® educational courseware; the KnowledgeBox® digital learning system; the ConcertTM solution for integrated instructional management, assessment and decision-support; and the SASIxpTM student information system. Pearson Digital Learning is also the exclusive distributor for the Waterford Early Reading ProgramTM and Waterford Early Math & ScienceTM , adaptive computer-based instruction developed by the Waterford Institute.

Pearson Digital Learning is part of Pearson Education (NYSE: PSO), the world's leading integrated education company.

More information can be found at:

Further information

Charlotte Elston
+44 (0)20 7010 2314