As the 2018-19 school year comes to an end, I'd like to take some time to share our product plans and roadmap over the summer and into next school year. I’m also excited to announce that we’ll be releasing brand new district-wide reporting tools to our customers next week! Read on to find out more.
I began writing the software that you know as JumpRope on my parent's back porch in Oregon over a summer vacation 2009, early in my teaching career. Having recently experienced the messy transition from "teacher training" into the real world, I was shocked by the quality of the technology available to manage our student data and was determined to build something that helped implement standards-based teaching and learning.
The first version was written well before the iPad was a thing and when "Web 2.0" was just emerging as a viable application platform. Decisions were made regarding the underlying technologies long before the future of the product or company was clear. I'll be the first to admit that we're still making painful interest payments on our technical debt ten years later as we work to replace our Adobe Flash-based teacher tools, scale our database technology to hundreds of millions of scores, and add district/enterprise-level features.
The early years of the company also involved introducing hundreds of customization options in order to address the different emerging models of standards-based teaching and learning that we encountered across the country and world. The ability to heavily customize the software is unique and valuable, but it also adds significant complexity and sometimes slows our ability to upgrade and scale our platform.
Fast forward to today: we work with hundreds of schools and districts of all shapes and sizes. Software that was originally built for the classroom is now being used by large schools and school districts. In ten years, we’ve also learned a lot about which options and features support quality implementations and which tend towards unsustainable complexity and workloads. We are making every effort to bring the latest technology and the latest best practices in the industry to our rebuild.
As a small company, this process is taking some time. The good news is that a huge percentage of the work has already been done, even if you haven't yet seen the results! Over the last two years, we have completely re-written our back-end code to improve performance, reliability, and security. We’ve also moved all mastery calculations (such as calculating the power law, decaying average, course conversions, etc.) from our client-side code to our servers to lay the groundwork for data integrations and reporting tools. We did all this in a way that it was nearly invisible to customers so that we could provide uninterrupted service throughout.
The next step is to rebuild our web applications for administrators, teachers, and students. This, too, started in 2017 with the Family Portal replacing the older Student & Parent Portal. In March of this year we released the re-built Admin application (so far for district edition customers only, but coming soon to all administrators). In just a few days, we will add the first of our next-generation reports those using the latest Admin application. This will just be the tip of the iceberg, with many more reports to follow.
We are also working on two major new features that will add more power to our reports: Student Demographics will provide dimensions to analyze and compare data, and Student Cohorts will add a formal layer of grade level management and enable reporting on historical "grade level when assessed." You can expect to see these features and a new round of related reports in the future.
The last major piece of the puzzle is the Teacher Dashboard - the oldest part of our software, as well as the app that sees the most usage. We've started rebuilding the teacher dashboard, and plan to make a public beta available during the 2019-20 school year. It will carry over the core concepts of the original teacher dashboard while upgrading the look, feel, and speed to match that of the new Admin interface. Eligible customers will be able to "Try the new JumpRope" and even be able to switch back and forth during this beta.
For today, we’re excited to announce the upcoming launch of our next-generation district reports. Check your email for the launch announcement next week. As always, feel free to reach out to us if you have questions and comments... and enjoy your summer!