History of RADAR
The Community Charter School of Cambridge (CCSC) is a tuition-free,
public charter school in Cambridge, Massachusetts for grades 7 through 12. CCSC opened its doors in 2005. About half its students
are Cambridge residents, and the rest are drawn from Boston and other neighboring communities. Over 90% of its students are
self-described as minority and more than half come from families that live below the poverty line (as defined by the federal free
lunch program). CCSC’s mission is to prepare all students for college with a rigorous college preparatory academic program. It was
recognized early in its existence that high standards of behavior and timeliness were necessary in order to accomplish its aims, and
that a method of measuring individual student behavior and of enforcing CCSC’s standards would be critical to achieving this.
Dan Saltzman, the Director of Operations and Technology, commissioned a rudimentary MySQL-backed web application to allow staff to
track, reward, and punish various types of behavior.
The software was expanded, improved, and otherwise modified over the next three years by a variety of volunteers. By CCSC staff, the
application was somewhat inefficiently referred to as "The Discipline Database". In the spring of 2008, mathematics instructor
Nicolas Anzalone collaborated with his UMass Boston
undergraduate mentor Ethan Bolker to improve the software. They introduced it as a project
for Ethan's Software Engineering course. The results were, for all parties involved, unexpectedly successful. The students who took on
the make-over of the application in the spring of 2008 were excited to be working on a project that was a critical component of a
philanthropic endeavor. Despite never having laid eyes on the rather pasta-like code before, and not having much time to work on coding
during the semester after deciphering which pieces of code were doing what, the development team did an exceptional job. The application
was renamed RADAR. Numerous improvements were made that would save hundreds of teacher-hours over the course of the next year, including
batch sanctions, quick lists, color-coded sanctions, and limited parental access. Several students volunteered to continue working on it
over the summer to ensure that the project was successful and that CCSC would implement the new software for the fall.
CCSC is currently in its second year collaborating with Ethan's UMass Boston Software Engineering course, and the prospects are just as
exciting and promising as last year. Some of the improvements we hope to tackle include vastly improved reporting, a user manual for new
staff, bug fixes, refactoring, and a generalization of the software to allow other schools to take advantage of what RADAR has to offer.