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  1. Education

Hillsborough school district rolls out Edsby grade book system

Published Sep. 3, 2013

TAMPA — Once upon a time there was Edline. Hillsborough County's helicopter parents lived there. They could check on their children's test and classroom grades — and hear their children grouse that the teachers hadn't updated them.

This year, Hillsborough County Public Schools put the project up for bid and settled on Edsby, a cloud-based system from another vendor. The price is much lower, "reducing the cost of the gradebook program by 50 percent," according to a recent memo by deputy superintendent Jeff Eakins.

But Edsby is not yet fully operational, and district officials acknowledged last week they are still working out the details.

Gregory Hart, the school district's Web services manager, said teachers are reporting that Edsby does not have all of the same functions that Edline had. For example, they have not yet been able to cross-post assignments from one class to another.

But Hart said the seller has been very receptive in adding features and making the system more user-friendly.

Edsby was developed by Corefour, a Canadian software design company, and sold by Aptiris of Decatur, Ga. Aptiris president Gary Falcon, in announcing the $179,000 Hillsborough contract, called Edsby "the most innovative and capable new product we've seen in the education space in a long time." The district is also paying up to $80,000 for implementation and training.

School district officials predict that, when fully operational, Edsby will be more convenient than the multiple systems parents now use to communicate with the district. There will even be a telephone app.

"Edsby will not only allow parents and students to see grades, homework assignments and upcoming activities, but it will also provide for simple two-way communication for teachers to answer questions and give positive feedback," Eakins wrote.

It also will tie into mySpot, a portal that parents can use to add money to their children's cafeteria accounts and register their children for magnet and choice programs. For security reasons, parents will need to visit the schools in person to sign up.

Teacher training began in the summer, and Hart is giving a presentation about Edsby at Parent University events. The official launch date is Sept. 23.

Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226-3356 or sokol@tampabay.com.

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