Redefining Ready: New Ways to Measure Student Progress at Every LevelPosted on Jan 23, 2018 8:00:00 AM
The concept of Redefining Ready emerged from a national campaign spearheaded by AASA - The School Superintendents Association. Their motto is “Our students are MORE than a SCORE.” Instead of using standardized test scores as the primary indicator of readiness for life after high school, the group encourages educators to consider many indicators such as types of courses taken, community service, attendance and activities, among others.
It’s an admirable goal that gives a broader picture of the experiences and capabilities of students as they prepare for college, military service or careers after high school. But, it can be difficult for school districts to expand how they measure the whole student when the data needed to make assessments is stored in many disconnected Student Information Systems (SIS) managed by multiple departments.
School districts are also tasked to show compliance with Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) standards that require four academic indicators and one other non-academic metric to measure student readiness. The reporting requirement of ESSA to publish specific educational data sets separated by student subgroups and categories is driving many school districts to evaluate how they collect, analyze and present data.
Redefining data analysis
Getting a true picture of what’s happening with an individual or group of students is like putting together a puzzle, except first you have to figure out where all the pieces are hidden. Just as we’re redefining what post-high school readiness looks like, we need to redefine how we bring data together from all the different spots, analyze it, make correlations and evaluate students in a way that’s easy to understand and actionable.
The results capture a profile of students or sub-groups so:
- Issues can be identified – by comparing students against others in corresponding sub-groups (i.e., demographics, elementary and intermediate schools attended, courses taken), previously unknown issues can be uncovered and addressed
- Indicators can be expanded – access to more data means additional indicators can be included in the evaluation of students such as the impact of attendance or involvement in after-school activities
- Interventions can be undertaken – broader pictures of students over experiences at school mean counselors can intervene earlier to keep teens on the right path
How to connect the data at multiple levels
School districts must be able to easily correlate and analyze data from all sources to establish strategies that improve student performance and readiness. The first step is to break down the bottleneck that is preventing school districts from finding meaning in their data by bringing disparate databases together in one analytics sandbox.
The answer is an analytics platform - such as 5Lab™ - that taps the data in the sandbox to enable three key functions:
1. Dashboard analytics - quick access to multiple analytics on one page that provides quick analysis at that point-in-time.
The analytics platform presents correlations between data in easy-to-read, customizable dashboard views. The output analyzes data at a number of levels depending on what the reviewer wants to study. In just a few clicks, you have the ability to drill down from a district level to an individual student.
2. Mobility through the data - the ability to move from data at the district level, all the way down to individual students quickly and easily.
Every school district is different and looks at different metrics to assess progress. The right analytics platform is easy to customize in just a few clicks of the mouse to add or subtract data from an analysis. Standard measurements can be set-up to run each month. It should also be easy to create custom reports to answer specific questions.
3. Customizable playground - flexibility to customize analytics, graphs, charts, and tables based on desired metrics, in an easy-to-use interface.
That way you’re able to assess:
- District views - overview of specified indicators for the entire district
- Building views - dive down to metrics for students in a specific building, such as the entire high school population
- Subgroups - look at specific subgroups based on parameters such as grade level, demographics, academic proficiencies
- Individual students - drill down to a profile of a specific student
Make informed decisions
To understand student readiness, it’s important to be able to use analytics to look at what’s happening at every level of the district, not just the district level. Blanket district level decisions can be effective, but won’t necessarily impact specific subgroups or students if the district doesn’t have visibility into how they are performing or undertake prescriptive measures. Student-level analysis also provides the ability to make proactive decisions for students approaching interventions to get them on the right track sooner.
With the analytics platform, school districts have access to comprehensive information about all their students to make informed, timely decisions to boost student performance and readiness for life beyond high school.
Jason Schoenleber is a Product Manager with Forecast5 Analytics in Naperville. Prior to working at Forecast5, Jason worked for 3 years as a Solutions Consultant for Enfos Inc., advising corporate remediation directors on managing their financial debt obligation data through a SaaS platform and template modeling. He received his Bachelors in Marketing from the University of South Dakota, and is currently pursuing his Masters in Business Administration from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.