Beyond ESSA: How to Drive Strategic Decisions by Tapping Required Student Data MeasurementsPosted on Oct 2, 2017 10:04:53 AM
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides states the flexibility to chart their own paths about how to meet the requirements of the legislation. With plans due to the U.S. Department of Education in September 2017, schools will soon need to provide data about student performance to feed reporting mandates.
According to the U.S. Department of Education’s website, one of the main goals of ESSA is to ensure “that all students in America be taught to high academic standards that will prepare them to succeed in college and careers.”
We know that goal matches what the vast majority of school districts already have in their sites for students. There’s an excellent opportunity to tap the data you’re already collecting to meet your state’s ESSA requirements to guide many of your strategic decisions, so they support your objectives.
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Do more than meet the federal requirements
School districts are awash with data. Our clients tell us about all the effort they exert sorting through multiple data storage warehouses to retrieve needed stats, then figuring out ways to combine all the inputs in a meaningful way. It’s a costly process for every size school district and it’s very rare to have resources devoted solely to data analysis.
That’s why Forecast5 is excited to offer school districts 5Lab™, a solution that was built specifically to pull in data from multiple data warehouses, combine it all in one sandbox and enable the generation of powerful analytics, reports and customized dashboards. 5Lab definitely supports ESSA compliance efforts, you’ll soon discover the value of the solution’s visual dashboards to develop forward-looking strategies and operational tactics.
Because 5Lab simplifies the process of gathering and generating needed reports to meet your state’s ESSA requirements, the resources you need to produce the outputs are greatly reduced. Once the metrics are defined in 5Lab, one person—who likely already has multiple job responsibilities—can handle the ongoing project.
What setting up 5Lab enables after ESSA reporting is established is where the real value for your organization starts.
Leverage reporting standards
Let’s take a look at the ESSA plan submitted to Georgia’s governor on August 14, 2017, for a 30-day review period in advance of the state tendering its final plan to the U.S. Department of Education on September 18, 2017.
In a letter to Governor Deal, Georgia’s School Superintendent Richard Woods outlined their plan to meet the “Education of the Whole Child.”
In the area of improving schools, we have laid out a cohesive and aligned vision for addressing the needs of children. Our tiered system of supports is a proactive approach to serving and improving our schools. Instead of being reactive and waiting until a school is labeled or placed on a list to provide supports, this model provides a tier of supports for every school in our state.
Additional supporting materials spell out their areas of focus:
- Personalized learning
- Strong foundation in the early grades
- Media Centers and libraries
- Arts, languages, Health & P.E.
- School Climate
- Expanding educational opportunities
- Well-rounded education
- Preparing students for life
To support these goals, school districts across Georgia are going to need to continually analyze how their students and schools are performing on a regular basis. Beyond updating ESSA reports, with an analytic tool like 5Lab, the school districts can use the data to inform and support strategic decisions.
Discovering the needle movers
Let’s use Georgia’s focus area of providing a strong foundation in the early grades as an example. With metrics in place about how a school district will measure progress, 5Lab can help administrators make adjustments to improve outcomes.
A school district might look at test scores in the middle grades to measure how they are doing. Great. But, with 5Lab they can easily dig deeper to correlate other data to add meaning to the test scores and discover ways to improve scores.
By analyzing test scores against other factors such as which elementary schools the students attended, they might find a trend that kids from one particular building are consistently scoring lower. Looking at the students from that school, they may also realize that attendance rates are lower than the district average. Based on that discovery, a strategic action plan can be formulated, and the additional required budget justified, to move the needle at the lower performing school.
With 5Lab, the time to uncover those correlations is just a few clicks of the mouse versus the time-consuming, labor-intensive process needed to analyze data housed in spreadsheets all over the district. Over time, the school district can continue to analyze how the changes they’ve implemented are impacting key factors.
ESSA and so much more
The Georgia ESSA recommendation recognizes that it takes a “multifaceted approach to supporting the well-being of children, so they are ready to learn and ready for life.” By utilizing the data collected for ESSA reporting more fully, school districts are better prepared to make strategic decisions that support this goal.
5Lab is the engine that connects a school district’s team to all of its data, providing visual clarity of the opportunities it makes sense for the district to pursue.
Mike English is a founder and the CEO/President of Forecast5 Analytics, Inc. – a technology company focused on software development and data analytics for the public sector. Mike has spent his entire career concentrating on the development of financial and strategic solutions for schools and municipalities. Forecast5 is headquartered in Naperville, Illinois – a suburb 30 miles west of Chicago.