CIT and VDOE Announce 2014 Winners of Apps4VA JMU Competition to Create Apps Using Educational Data

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Twenty-three student teams at JMU develop educational apps using data from VLDS.

The Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) today announced the winners of the 2014 Apps4VA JMU software application (app) development competition. The competition is part of a joint CIT and Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) initiative to engage the public in the development of new tools to analyze and report education data.

More than 85 James Madison University students participated in the semester-long competition. Students in three Computer Science sections worked in teams to develop data-analysis and reporting tools for parents, teachers, school administrators and policy makers. The teams were given access to cell-suppressed aggregate data maintained by VDOE for use by researchers. The data sets included information on enrollment, performance on state assessments, graduation and dropout rates, career and technical education programs, and postsecondary enrollment and achievement.

Chris Mayfield, Assistant Professor, and Nancy Harris, Lecturer, in JMU’s Computer Science Department, said, “This type of application development has the potential to impact students and local communities in many positive ways. In our experience, students were motivated to develop successful, high-quality projects because the data was about them and the future of their educational system.”

First- and second-place winners were selected for each of the three Computer Science sections participating in the 2014 Apps4VAJMU competition. The winners of the 2014 Apps4VA JMU competition are:

First Prizes:

  •     Cool School — A search tool for families designed to enable them to compare nearby schools and divisions which are ranked based on test scores, enrollment rates, and graduation rates. Student developers included: Karina Bekova, Landon Dorrier, Michael Jeschke, and Jamie Martin.
  •     Digiapps — A data tool designed to help parents and educators of special needs students identify and rank schools that match students’ needs using t-tests. Student developers included: David Lewis, Sneha Polisetti, and Anthony Sutton.
  •     NULL — A data tool designed to reveal how school schedules impact student learning capabilities by comparing school schedules and student performance across the state. Student developers included Morgan Barksdale, Bryan Conner, Sam Harrison, and Adair Moore.

Second Prizes:

  •     Database 2: The SQL — A tool for parents, teachers, administrators, and policy makers to help identify students who are most at risk of dropping out of high school. Student developers included Ariel Hallam, Lee Terrell, Daniel Thomas, and Jordan Williams.
  •     SOL-ution — An app to provide teachers with easy access to their students’ SOL test scores and tools to compare current classrooms with previous cohorts. Student developers included Michael Burke, Taylor DeTroye, Matt Muller, and Giulio Santini.
  •     Victorious Secret — An app that allows users to compare SOL scores and Career and Technical Education (CTE) completers by region or school to labor market projections in the area. Student developers included Patrick Davis, Paulo Dorado, and Seth Kuller.

Apps4VA was launched by CIT and VDOE as a way to raise awareness of VLDS (Virginia Longitudinal Data System), which provides research information on Virginia public school students’ progress toward college and career readiness. It also aims to engage the public in using the data to develop new insights and tools for educators, researchers and policymakers, and increase government transparency. Since its inception, the Apps4VA program has awarded more than $25,000 in cash and prizes. Over the course of the program, more than 300 participants have developed more than 100 cutting-edge, education-focused apps.

Bethann Canada, VDOE Director of Educational Information Management, said, “Apps4VA is an ongoing process, not a single event, and VDOE is very interested in developing an ongoing dialogue with the public and in sponsoring continued innovation in the use of data to improve public education. After the competition, some of the students said that they plan to continue to refine their apps and that they have been influenced to consider entrepreneurship in their career paths. It has been a privilege, and very exciting to witness the talent and creativity of the next generation of community and industry leaders.”

Winners of the Apps4VA JMU challenge will be highlighted at the 2014 Insights Conference on June 24, 2014 at the Richmond Hilton Short Pump (

For more information on the program, visit the Apps4VA website.

About the Center for Innovative Technology,
Since 1985, CIT, a nonprofit corporation, has been the Commonwealth’s primary driver of innovation, technology and entrepreneurship. CIT accelerates the next generation of technology and technology companies through commercialization, capital formation, market development and revenue generation services. To facilitate national innovation leadership and accelerate the rate of technology adoption, CIT creates partnerships between innovative technology start-up companies and advanced technology consumers. CIT’s CAGE Code is 1UP71.

About CIT Connect,
Recognizing a need in the marketplace, CIT Connect was established to help federal, state, and corporate consumers of technology identify and assimilate innovation. The CIT Connect service line delivers unique and innovative value-add solutions enabling technology consumption, adoption, and integration into organizations. CIT Connect’s experts work with organizations to assess the spectrum of inputs into the development and implementation process, including stakeholders, corporate culture and policies, technology and market environment.

About the Virginia Department of Education,
The Virginia Department of Education provides support and guidance to the commonwealth’s 132 public school divisions which, combined, educate approximately 1.2 million PK-12 students. The department administers regulations promulgated by the state Board of Education and supports the board in carrying out its responsibilities under state and federal education law.


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