The Dream

A student roster verification and assessment scheduling application

Part of the work I do at my day job is state testing for career and technical education students in Mississippi. Each year, my team manages the delivery of 20,000+ assessments. When I first started in this role, the team accomplished this work by receiving student data from each school district in an Excel workbook, manually cleaning the data, manually uploading it to our system, and manually scheduling it by running a set of database procedures. It worked, but it was not ideal. If a district forgot a student, or heaven forbid – a whole class, we would have to manually add each student and teacher to our system and run the scheduling procedure again. I hope I’m communicating how inefficient this was.

Perhaps a video will do it: Watch my hands clean thousands of student records.

The Dream is the main application I have worked to develop, and it automates our testing system. My team and I named it “The Dream” because it significantly reduces the amount of customer support required for testing by allowing our users, who are about 150 test coordinators in Mississippi, to add, remove, and verify their data.

The application works by first building a map of testing locations, schools, courses, and teachers using a set of user-facing questions. Once the map is created, users can upload an Excel workbook containing their student data. The Dream compares the data to the map, uploads the records that match, and shows a list of errors for any records that don’t match. Next, the Dream shows a list of uploaded data by course and provides options for the user to add, remove, edit, and verify the data.

My role in this process was determining the user flow and how each element in the interface should work. Behind the scenes, I also wrote the logic for our test scheduling procedure using the API documentation from our testing software. This was my first experience with wireframing, and I ended up using Google Docs to create the wireframe, which you can see here:

This was also my first experience with APIs, and I documented my logic on the whiteboard in my coworker’s office:

The very talented programmer and database administrator did the coding for this project, and the application is now used by every career and technical education center in Mississippi.

I’m also responsible for much of the user training and customer support for this application.