Sagestone Earns Microsoft Award

May 14, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — Sagestone Consulting beat out a field of 28 of the nation’s most prestigious software firms to win the inaugural Microsoft Public Sector Award: 2004 Best Innovation in Education.

“It’s a great boon to our education practice, which already has great momentum,” Sagestone President Keith Brophy said. “Sagestone is generally exhibiting exciting growth in multiple branches and this is affirmation of that as well.”

The award recognizes:

  • An innovative and exemplary information technology solution for the public sector.

  • The Microsoft partner with the most progressive solution that demonstrates effective and efficient reporting of data and information leading to improved decision making across an institution.

  • The implementation of technology in curriculum designed to improve student achievement or provide innovative, easy-to-use, community-embracing activities designed to foster communication among K-12 learning communities.

Sagestone won the award for its Connected Learning Framework, a solution built to improve student achievement while addressing local and state curriculum standards. It includes a curriculum library that gives teachers and administrators an accurate picture of student progress through the alignment of standards at the curriculum level; shared work spaces, containing lesson plans, assignments, tests, discussion forums, document libraries and announcements; and a data analysis system that discovers factors affecting key performance through rapid data analysis of student data.

One of the most attractive features of the application is that it allows schools to address accountability measures from state and local government in line with the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Staying in accordance with the legislation has bogged down many schools already strapped for personnel.

“The Innovation Award really highlights that this is a solution that is very pertinent to the industry,” Brophy said. “The legislation is pretty significant in terms of the expectations it places on schools. One of the challenges it places on schools is how to address No Child Left Behind in a cost effective and timely manner that makes sense in their real world environment. We provide a cost-effective method to take steps forward in trackability and coordination that goes along with No Child Left Behind standards. Now (we have) Microsoft affirmation that it is the most innovative solution in the industry.”

The Connected Learning Framework, deployed in 300 school districts nationwide, also has a presence at schools in Costa Rica as well as a university solution at M.I.T. It is a combination of Microsoft’s Class Server 3.0 and SharePoint 2.0 (a portal application) with Sagestone layers.

The Class Server is marketed across all environments, but through collaboration with Microsoft, Sagestone was able to provide more capabilities and turn it into a perfect and easily deployable solution for K-12 education collaboration capabilities.

“The way we were able to build this software with such recognition was by listening to schools,” said Joel Lathrop, director of the firm’s education practice. “In the past two years we’ve been listening, really seeing what education needs. Microsoft’s platform was being used all over the country too, and they were listening as well. So we got together, compared notes, and we built a solution based on what their feedback was. This isn’t a software company telling the schools how to teach. We listened to what their needs were.”

“We’ve spent two years working in this direction,” Chief Strategy Officer Kevin Schuler added. “The ability to ease reporting of No Child Left Behind, to help teachers teach classes, helps students communicate with each other. We’ve been working toward this and the award affirms that.”           

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