I understand your concerns and do not believe you are being contrary or cantankerous.

To give an abbreviated summary of how we got here:

The VADR project proposal that garnered Vermont's first ever SLDS grant is a scaled-back model of the V-DEP (Vermont Data Enhancement Project) proposal that was submitted in response to the FY09 ARRA SLDS grant opportunity.   The V-DEP proposal was developed through extensive stakeholder engagement in an attempt to meet the needs of all schools/districts.  The FY09 ARRA grant opportunity was designed to deliver a comprehensive longitudinal data system covering Pre-K through Postsecondary grade levels and included such deliverables as a statewide student information system and a common data vocabulary to ensure data standards were consistent throughout the state.  Unfortunately, this proposal was viewed unfavorably by the US DOE and proposal evaluators.  The VADR project proposal sought funding to meet the primary weaknesses in Vermont's current system:

1)      The increasingly unmanageable data collection/reporting requirements imposed on our state (i.e. operational efficiencies) and, more importantly,

2)      The lack of timely access to information that would help education stakeholders evaluate programs and improve education outcomes for all Vermont students (i.e. access to timely and actionable data to drive data-informed decisions).

Using stakeholder input provided as part of drafting the V-DEP proposal, we scaled back the V-DEP proposal to address these weaknesses through streamlined data collection/reporting processes and improved access to timely information.  (The much lower funding cap of $5M necessitated this scaled-back proposal.)  Leveraging the information that all of you report to Peter Drescher as part of your annual tech surveys, we vetted the feasibility of this proposal with every student information system vendor known to operate in Vermont.  (I contacted each one personally.)  The US DOE and expert proposal evaluators rated Vermont's proposal as the highest rated proposal (tied with Montana) received during this latest round of SLDS grants.

A key requirement and component of the SLDS grant program and the VADR proposal specifically, is the involvement of a Governance Committee that includes stakeholders from both the state and local level.  We understand that it is absolutely essential to involve stakeholders from both the state and local levels in the design and implementation of this system.  The VADR Governance Committee was put together with much thought and effort to include appropriate representatives from the SEA and LEA levels.  It includes members representing Superintendents, Principals, Curriculum Coordinators, Education Technologists, and CTE Directors from all corners of the state as well as key representatives from school effectiveness, assessment, professional development and information technology at the AOE.  These representative members bring a mixed level of experience with technology from large and small districts and schools.  And, while it would be impossible to completely represent every scenario that exists throughout the state in a committee that is sized small enough to move this work forward, we feel that members are very thoughtful in ensuring that we design and implement a system that meets the needs of all Vermont education stakeholders.

The VADR Governance Committee is currently comprised of the following members:


Agency/School/District Role

Tom Alderman

Director of Integrated Support for Learning, HS/Adult, AOE

John Barone

Superintendent, Milton Town SD

Brucie Donahue

Educational Technologist, Northfield School District, Washington South SU

John Fischer

Governance Committee Co-Chair,
Deputy Commissioner, Education Transformation and Innovation, AOE

Dan French

NCES Data Forum State LEA Representative, Superintendent, Bennington Rutland SU

Elijah Hawkes

Assoc. Principal, Randolph UHSD #2

Paul Irish

Director of Technology, Burlington SD

Lyle Jepson

Director, Stafford Technical Center, Rutland

M.C. Moran

Program Manager, Professional Development, AOE

Bob Owens

Technology Director, ANWSU, Vergennes

John Peters

Director of Technology, North Country SU

Debi Price

Education Project Manager, School Effectiveness, AOE

Joe Restighini

Principal, North Hero School

Mary Lynn Riggs

Director of Curriculum, Franklin West SU, Fairfax

Paul Smith

Curriculum Coordinator, Windham Southeast SU

Bob Stanton

Coordinator, LAPDA

Bill Talbott

Governance Committee Co-Chair, Deputy Commissioner, Finance & Administration, AOE

Brian Townsend

VADR Project Director, AOE

Once we identify the vendor(s) that will best meet the functional requirements of the VADR system and SLDS grant, we will absolutely be bringing together many more stakeholders to ensure that the system meets everyone's needs.  In fact, my prior message mentioned that we will be forming several working groups - both policy-based and technical in nature - to make sure this system meets the needs of Vermont's diverse constituents.  We will need the involvement of a number of folks, representing all Vermont districts/schools, in order to inform the design of this system.

Again, I understand and appreciate your concerns and am working very hard every day to ensure that this project is successful for everyone.  I thank you, and others, who have expressed interest and I will continue to update you as often as I can, where/when I am allowed.

Thank you,

Brian Townsend | IT Director | Vermont Agency of Education
120 State St | Montpelier,VT 05620-2501 | *:802.828.6575| : 802.828-1444 | *:[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
From: School Information Technology Discussion [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Raymond Ballou
Sent: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 12:55 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Governance Committee Update


"to represent the needs and concerns of those of you in the field"

Is this happening in some active way that I don't know about, or is it simply based upon the existence and presence of the GC?

Meaning, I think Bob Owen is a great guy, but how do you know he is able to represent all of our diverse interests?

For example, is there someone on the GC representing each of the SIS's currently used in the state?

Someone from big schools and little, well funded and not, meeting and failing AYP etc ad nauseum.

I am not trying to be contrary or cantankerous, but if I have no idea how I am being represented, it riles me to see it stated in the memo.


While we aim to be as transparent as possible throughout this project, state procurement rules dictate certain things about what information is public and what information is not public during this procurement process.  We have invited the VADR governance committee membership to attend these finalist demonstrations to represent the needs and concerns of those of you in the field.