Software Evaluation Exercise

Scenario: Sunnyvale Middle School has won a $5,000 grant from a local philanthropist to purchase educational software. Sunnyvale has 360 students in grades 6-8. More than 40% of the students received free lunch. The school has three computer labs (two PC and one Macintosh) with 30 computers in each lab. There are also ten computers in the school media center. In addition, each classroom has a teacher workstation (all PCs) that is equipped with a high resolution projector. All computers in the school are connected via a LAN (local area network) plus all have high speed Internet access via cable modem.

The School Board has identified that following educational needs in the school:

  • Just under half the students achieve at or above the state means on standardized mathematics tests.
  • Less than half of the students achieve at or above state means on standardized science tests.

The majority of the teachers, however, maintain that the primary problem in the school is that most of the students lack creativity, motivation, or interest in learning much about anything. They claim that most students are bored with traditional classroom teaching. It is clear that attendance has suffered, and that discipline problems have increased.

Meanwhile, a grassroots parents organization argues that the money should be spent on programs to enhance reading and writing.

The Challenge: Working with a partner, you will put together a proposal for specific software that the school should purchase with these funds. In addition to software, you may spent up to 25% of the funds on peripheral equipment, but no new computers may be purchased with these funds. Your software selections should be based upon a clear identification of the needs you intend to address. In addition, you should identify any published reviews that you have found for the software (if any), and clarify how you will evaluate the software before the final purchase is made. You can buy one program or a dozen, but you must remain within the $5,000 budget. You will present your proposal using one transparency to a meeting of School Board Members, parents, and teachers, who have agreed in advance to accept your expert recommendations.