The inadequacies of the system were also pointed out in the 2001 evaluation of the Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy (SEMAA). The evaluators state that, in their judgment, the data in the central database (at the time called EDCATS), offered little of value in the conduct of the SEMAA evaluation (Benson, Penick, and Associates, Inc., 2001). They recommended that the project obtain authorization for the design and utilization of the project’s own comprehensive, universal database that is aligned with SEMAA’s objectives.
In addition to entering data into NEEIS, projects are required to submit monthly and annual performance reports, and they are encouraged to submit a weekly activity report. Projects are reviewed quarterly and annually. The annual review is based primarily on written documentation summarizing the goals, objectives, organization, resources, and accomplishments of each project. The results of the annual review are used to develop an improvement plan.
Presumably, the data entered in NEEIS become an integral part of the annual reports. However, the limitations of NEEIS seem likely to hinder the capability of projects to easily summarize data for reports and to use the data in the system to inform project implementation and improvement. One solution might be for individual projects to maintain their own databases, though there are inefficiencies in this model given that projects are required to enter data in NEEIS.
Currently, individual projects appear to vary in terms of whether they maintain databases or other systematic project files outside of NEEIS. For example, NES maintains school plans and other documents in an online format outside of NEEIS. However, the 2001 evaluation of SEMAA indicated that that project did not maintain electronic records that would allow them to track the progress of individual students over time. In order for projects to effectively collect and learn from data, some improvement to NEEIS is essential.