History of the Statewide Student Information System
Under 2011 Wisconsin Act 32, the biennial budget act, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is required to establish a statewide student information system (SSIS). The following memo details the history and timeline of this project.
March 2011 – Governor’s 2011-13 budget introduced
2011 Assembly Bill 40 was introduced by Governor Walker on March 1, 2011. The budget bill included statutory language requiring the state superintendent to establish a statewide student information system (SSIS). The bill required the state superintendent to present a plan to the Governor for the implementation of a statewide SSIS and for expenditure of appropriated funds. The bill appropriated $15,000,000 GPR to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) for expenditures related to the establishment of the SSIS. The bill also 1) required the state superintendent to charge a fee, on a per
pupil basis, to any school district that uses the new student information system, and 2) permitted the state superintendent to charge a fee to any other person that uses the system.
April – August 2011 – SSIS Advisory Group Meets
After release of the Governor’s biennial budget request, the DPI organized a Statewide Student Information System Advisory Workgroup charged with gathering information to create a recommendation to the state superintendent on the steps which should be taken to implement a SSIS. The 74-member workgroup included members from school districts, CESAs, private schools, and the department.
The group gathered documents, communicated with other states’ education department staff that manage such systems, and collected information from potential vendors. The focus of the workgroup was to learn of best practices as they relate to procurement, functionality, deployment and implementation, on-going maintenance and support, infrastructure, and other related topics. The workgroup leveraged experiences of other states and individual school districts in Wisconsin in order to make the best possible decisions for the state. The group met five times between April and June of 2011 via “Live Meeting” and once in person.
As part of their work, on May 18, 2011 the workgroup developed and released a Request for Information (RFI) in coordination with the Department of Administration (DOA). Seventeen vendor responses were received by the June 10, 2011 deadline.
In August 2011, the Advisory Group’s final recommendations were provided to the State Superintendent. The Advisory Group recommendations included a single vendor solution for the SSIS acquired through a state Request for Proposal (RFP) process.
Link to Advisory Group’s recommendation:
May 2011 – Joint Committee on Finance Modifies SSIS Budget Item
On May 3, 2011, the Joint Committee on Finance (JCF) took executive action on the SSIS part of the 2011-13 biennial budget. The Committee modified the Governor’s SSIS request by approving the following:
- Required the state superintendent to establish a SSIS.
- Required the state superintendent and governor to jointly present a plan to JCF for implementation of the SSIS.
- Appropriated $15,000,000 GPR for the SSIS to the JCF, rather than directly in DPI, for release to DPI during the 2011-13 biennium pending JCF approval of the state superintendent and governor’s plan. The approved funds would be transferred to the appropriation s. 20.255(1) (e) in the department, as created in the budget bill.
- Required the state superintendent to ensure all school districts implemented the SSIS within a five year window following establishment of the SSIS.
- Authorized the state superintendent to promulgate rules to charge fees to users of the system.
June 2011 – Budget bill passed
2011 Wisconsin Act 32, the 2011-13 biennial budget, was enacted on June 26, 2011 and included the SSIS provisions as established by JCF on May 3, 2011.
Per Section 9137 of Act 32:
“The state superintendent of public instruction shall submit a plan for the expenditure of moneys appropriated under section 20.255 (1) (e) of the statutes, as created by this act, in the 2011-12 fiscal year to the governor for his or her approval. By October 1, 2011, the state superintendent and the governor shall submit the approved plan to the joint committee on finance for its approval.”
August 30, 2011 – Governor and State Superintendent Submit Joint Request to JCF
On August 30, 2011, Governor Walker and Superintendent Evers submitted their joint recommendations for funding and implementation of the SSIS to JCF. Two key recommendations included: 1) the department procure a single software vendor solution to provide a centralized system for all districts; 2) the majority of the $15 million will be used to offset district costs for migration, data conversion, training, and staff costs.
DPI and Governor’s request:
November 3, 2011 – Governor and State Superintendent Submit Updated Joint Request to JCF
On November 3, 2011, Governor Walker and Superintendent Evers submitted a revised joint recommendation to the JCF with the following changes/additions: 1) authorize a district to be exempt from the requirement to adopt the state’s SSIS if it could meet six technical requirement criteria; 2) the anticipated RFP release and scoring dates were moved back one month; and 3) provided an overview of the RFP process.
DPI and Governor’s updated request:
November 2011 – Joint Committee on Finance releases funding and specifies a single vendor
On November 10, 2011 the JCF, meeting under s. 13.10, first rejected a motion to require DPI to prepare an RFP for the SSIS that would approve multiple approved vendors. The motion was defeated on a bipartisan 3-12 vote.
The Committee then approved a motion on a 14-1 vote for the release of $5,000,000 GPR to the DPI for establishment and implementation of the SSIS during the 2011-13 biennium. An additional $5,000,000 GPR was held by the Committee to be released to DPI upon request if needed during the 2011-13 biennium, and another $5,000,000 was planned to be returned to the General Fund at the end of the biennium.
The Committee’s motion also approved the DPI and Governor’s request to pursue a single vendor for the SSIS through the RFP.
The Committee also approved an exception to existing statutory language allowing school districts that met specific criteria to not implement the SSIS in their district. At the time of this decision only the Tomah School District met these criteria.
DOA memo to JCF supporting Governor and DPI request:
Legislative Fiscal Bureau paper:
Minutes of JCF meeting:
May 2012 – Request For Proposal (RFP) released
On May 2, 2012 DOA issued a RFP for the SSIS on behalf of DPI with a final submission due date of July 10, 2012. The RFP document contained the mandatory requirements for the functional and non-functional technical features of the system as well as the cost sheet requirements and the overall scoring rubric.
History of the Statewide Student Information System
The RFP procurement process was created to ensure that the best product (service, system) is chosen at the best possible price. DOA assigns a procurement agent to work with agencies (in this case DPI) who guides the creation and execution of the RFP. A committee is charged with creating the RFP mandatory specifications, non-mandatory specifications, questions for the vendor to respond to, evaluation criteria, benchmarks (to help the evaluation committee look for systems that contain the best options or methods or processes in their system) and determining the maximum score for each item that will be scored.
In August 2011, a committee was formed to establish the SSIS RFP. State law and policy prohibit employees of the Office of the Governor, unclassified Agency heads, any Commissioners, Deputy Agency heads, Executive Assistants and Division Administrators from participating on an RFP evaluation committee. Committee members included two DPI staff and school district staff familiar with the school district information needs and who represented districts of varying size and existing SIS vendors. DOA’s State Bureau of Procurement (SBOP) oversaw the process, consistent with state law.
The committee looked at other states’ RFP specifications for their SSIS contracts and utilized some of that information in writing the RFP. The committee members were required to have expertise in some area of the SSIS, whether as information technology professionals or as administrators. Seven of the committee members were from districts or schools. There were members from both large and small districts. Each committee member’s district was currently utilizing a SSIS. Some of them had experience with more than one system.
The SBOP answered any and all vendor questions to ensure that agency staff are not influenced by the vendor and that all vendors receive the same information. Names of the committee members are not released until after the RFP process is completed to ensure committee members are not contacted directly by vendors.
Once the RFP is released, any vendor can choose to respond. During the RFP process, vendors are required to ask questions by a specific date about anything they don’t understand. Answers are provided by DOA and the RFP may be amended. There was a vendor’s conference to go over the questions and answer or clarify any information that still wasn’t clear.
The RFP contained a list of mandatory requirements which each vendor must meet. After the proposals were received by DOA, each of the committee members was given a copy of each proposal and they were required to score each of them individually. Meetings were held to discuss scores, determine if vendor’s answers need clarification, etc. All of the evaluation committee member’s scores were entered into a spreadsheet and each member’s score for each item was totaled with every other member’s score. The total score is then averaged to arrive at a score for the item. All the average scores are totaled to arrive at a total Technical Score for each vendor. The highest scoring vendors were asked to conduct a vendor demonstration for the entire committee. District subject-matter experts were invited to provide feedback to the RFP committee during the demonstrations to help ensure the product meets requirements. Vendor’s proposals were re-scored based on any additional information learned during the demonstrations. Once the committee determined that they had completed the Technical Scores, DOA then scored the cost component part of the RFP and added this score to the Technical Score. The vendor with the highest score was awarded the contract.
February 2013 – “Intent to award” announced
On February 1, 2013 DOA issued a Notice of Intent to Award Request for Proposal, stating that it intended to award a contract to establish and maintain a SSIS to the successful proposer, Infinite Campus, Inc., which was the highest scoring proposer in the SSIS competitive RFP process.
DOA also had contracted with Cari Anne Renlund from law firm of DeWitt, Ross & Stevens to conduct an independent observation of the procurement, evaluation and selection process of the SSIS. Among the findings, her report found the following:
- The SSIS procurement, evaluation and selection process was open, fair, impartial and objective, and consistent with the RFP criteria;
- The State and the Evaluation Team carefully followed the statutory and regulatory requirements applicable to the procurement process;
- All proposing vendors were afforded an equal opportunity to compete for the contract award; and
- The procurement, evaluation and selection process satisfied the goals and objectives of Wisconsin’s public contracting requirements.
DOA Notice of Intent press release: http://www.thewheelerreport.com/wheeler_docs/files/0201doa_02.pdf
Procurement Process Observation Report: http://www.thewheelerreport.com/wheeler_docs/files/0201doaobsreport_01.pdf