The deadline has passed for states to submit final Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plans. Now it’s up to school districts to figure out how to capture and report data about student performance. While the additional reporting can seem like a burden, buried in that task is a great opportunity to boost strategic decision-making capabilities. District administrators just need a simple method to look at student data in a new way.

ESSA reporting requirements include the need to publish specific educational data sets separated by student subgroups and categories. School districts are challenged to rethink how they collect, analyze, and present data.

One Chicago-area high school district—let’s call it Chi-High—discovered the data needed for ESSA compliance reports also provides the administration with key insights about students. Better yet, they are using that discovery to move the needle on student performance.

Silos of data

How to use your data to make informed decisions

Chi-High first had to figure out how to address the issue of siloed data. They had troves of information about students stored in their student information system, a data storage warehouse, and Excel spreadsheets on various administrator’s computers. They wondered, “How can we retrieve the stats we want and combine inputs meaningfully without adding costly resources?”

Chi-High simplified the process by using an analytics platform that pulls data into one sandbox as needed from disparate systems. Instead of having district staff manually extract data from several sources to populate complex spreadsheets, the analytics platform refreshes data and related analytics automatically. Reports populated with key data points are set to run at regular intervals and automatically feed into an analytics platform engine that calculates specific key performance indicators (KPIs).

About the Author:

Mike English is founder and chief executive officer/president of Forecast5 Analytics, a technology company focused on software development and data analytics for the public sector. English has spent his entire career concentrating on the development of financial and strategic solutions for schools and municipalities.

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