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Botching GAMA

New York Teacher

The Department of Education is supposed to provide educators with the tools they need to do their jobs. But when it comes to technology, the DOE has failed again, dumping a glitch-prone new software program called GAMA on teachers with little notice or explanation.

In September, the DOE rolled out GAMA, a new online grading, attendance and parent-messaging system. In theory, creating a one-stop shop for these three essential teaching tasks is a great idea. In reality, the implementation has been a disaster.

The platform was rushed into service with no user testing. When teachers first logged on to GAMA, they found strings of numbers where their students’ names were supposed to be. GAMA was supposed to connect seamlessly with Google Classroom, but it didn’t at launch. Not even the parent outreach system worked properly.

The DOE treated teachers as product testers for GAMA and left them to figure out their own workarounds without any guidance.

Educators are rightly frustrated. It boggles the mind that New York City — a global metropolis with a $38 billion education budget — should struggle with basic administrative technology this way.

There is no reason for this debacle. The DOE knew its previous Skedula software was vulnerable to a data breach yet it sat on its hands until students’ private information was leaked this summer. Suddenly, it had to scramble to implement a replacement.

Some schools are waiting to use GAMA until all the bugs are fixed, while others are managing with it as best they can. The UFT is in daily contact with the DOE to make sure it resolves all the issues.

No doubt, educators will eventually have functioning software. But they should have had it the day they reported to work in September.

Related Topics: Teaching Issues