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The Nabor Project - methodology and realization


The concept of the Nabor Project originates from the guidelines of the reform in the Polish education system. Introduction of the reform resulted in creating an intermediate level of the educational path – three-year gymnasia (junior high schools). Their graduates are accepted to senior high schools (vocational, technical, secondary, and profiled secondary schools) on the basis of junior high school certificates competitions, and points scored during additional tests. Since the year 2000 the students of the last grades of junior high schools have been allowed to apply to more than one senior high school. It significantly boosted their opportunities to choose the proper education cycle; however, it also caused numerous organization problems. The main problem was the phenomenon of “place blocking” – after the preliminary recruitment the most proficient students were accepted in all target schools, thus occupying places which could have been taken by other good pupils. Waiting for the best students to make their final decisions caused anxiety and frustration of candidates from the reserve lists and their parents, as well as chaos in schools where preparing final lists of accepted candidates took a long time.

The need to provide effective management of the whole recruitment process and flexibility in choosing a school or its branch resulted in creating a concept of a computerized information system which would gather data on candidates from all schools within a given region in a central database. Thus, candidates would be unambiguously appointed to individual schools.

In 2003 Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Center, having previous experience in the realization of pro-educational information systems, closely cooperated with the Department of Education of the City of Poznan, the Education Curator of the Wielkopolska region, and principals of Poznan schools, to start a pilot program of electronic recruitment service for senior high school candidates. Originally, the recruitment mechanism was supposed to take into consideration the points scored by the candidate as well as the list of preferred schools. However, the main objective was to reduce the analysis time of all the incoming data, and create an effective system of reporting the operation results.

In 2003 Poznan was the only Polish city where the senior high school recruitment process proceeded quickly and efficiently, causing no anxiety of pupils, their parents, and teachers. Moreover, the results were available via the Internet and in schools the day before the deadline appointed by the Curator. Owing to the Nabor system approximately 10 000 candidates found their names on the lists of accepted students. Also, about 400 students who scored too few points to be accepted in any school were given the opportunity to begin their high school education in new branches created for them thanks to the system’s global perspective and immediate reaction to the problem.

The analysis of mechanisms applied in 2003 enabled building a framework of the system’s new edition realization. In this version the components of the very system, roles and tasks of individual groups of users as well as consecutive deployment steps have been clearly stated. Thus we managed to obtain an effective, reliable, safe and flexible solution model, which is also very easy to use. Each group of users has access to the system via independent and specialized software. The “Inspector”, basing on the “Nabor 2004 Inspector”, supervises and manages the whole recruitment process, begins and finishes its phases, and has access to all data. This is the module where all rules of the grading scale and the personalization of ration procedures for the whole region are defined. The “Curator” (the “Nabor 2004 Curator” module) is responsible for content-related issues referring to the recruitment process; this person has access to any data stored in the system, including statistical reports. The “Operator” (the “Nabor 2004 School" module), as an employee of a given senior high school, is in charge of introducing data about the school as well as its candidates to the system. The “Candidate” (the “Nabor 2004 Publication") is a student of the last class of junior high school and applies to be accepted to at least one of the schools in the region. Apart from the above-mentioned groups of users being the direct subjects of the recruitment process, the system also includes the “PSNC Service” (“Nabor 2004 Center”), which administers and controls all components of the Nabor system, supervises the transmission and provides technical assistance for all the above-mentioned groups of users.

The “Inspector”, “Operator”, and “Curator” have access to the system only and exclusively via the “stand-alone” application provided by Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Center and prepared on the Java software platform. In order to ensure high safety standards, a special restrictive version of the NaborOS operating system (based on Knoppix, one-disc distribution of Linux) was prepared. The application started within the system is signed with a unique digital key, which enables the server to precisely control access and store a complete history of changes of the whole database.  Such solution results in considerable growth of the system credibility as there is no possibility of conducting anonymous operations on the system resources. “Public” access to data for the candidates is realized “online” by means of a web browser via a www server separated from the rest of the system, which presents general reports as well as the recruitment results for individual candidates through a profiled access (PESEL – personal identification number and an additional PIN number).

The central component of the system is a highly efficient server all data about schools, branches and candidates are sent on. Computers with access to the Internet, placed in the entitled institutions (senior high schools, local council, the Curator’s Office), are perceived as client workstations in the Nabor system. Therefore, the already existing infrastructure is mostly taken advantage of. The system is connected to the Internet by means of the backbone network of POL 622/PIONIER, the Polish Scientific Network. Back-up access to the main server in PSNC is provided by additional dial-up connections, which may be used by all clients of the Nabor system in case of unexpected shortage of connectivity to the Internet.

The recruitment process itself supported by the Nabor system consists of a few steps. Introducing information on schools and branches allows for creating an Internet guide for candidates. Certificates and test results submitted by candidates are added to the database along with a list of preferred schools. On the basis of the data the reports on preliminary imposing are created and published on www pages, which gives the candidates an opportunity to change their preferences. The last step is a meeting of school principles and the starting of the recruitment procedure, as well as resolving possible conflicts. The meeting results in preparing reports on accepted candidates, students accepted to other schools, unaccepted students, and available free places.

An unquestionable advantage of the Nabor system is providing the Curator’s Office and the Department of Education with access to information on the recruitment process, which is possible from any stage of the system operation. What is most important for the candidate is the fact that it is enough to prepare a properly long list of preferences in order to be accepted to one of the chosen schools. For schools the system is also an excellent source of data, which enables to adapt the educational offer to the current needs.


 

 

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