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===What communication challenges did this project address?===
 
===What communication challenges did this project address?===
  
In diverse districts across the country, administrators, teachers, and approved service providers are often unable to quickly review patterns in basic data affecting students – like their absences, test scores, grades, and credits. This is often due to the high cost of cutting-edge student data systems (or, the high cost of professional development showing educators how to use the systems they have). Families, for their part, are often unsure how to find all the relevant data on their children, how to read data once they are given it (e.g., a report card), and how to communicate with schools about it. (see http:// nationalpirc.org/engagement_webinars/webinar-student-data.html). As both educators and parents know, gaps in available basic data also can create gaps in student service, because people in charge of supporting young people remain unaware about some key aspects of their situation. Was Jose absent five days last month, or not? How are speakers of language X doing on standardized tests? Who is enrolled in which afterschool program?
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In diverse districts across the country, administrators, teachers, and approved service providers are often unable to quickly review patterns in basic data affecting students – like their absences, test scores, grades, and credits. This is often due to the high cost of cutting-edge student data systems (or, the high cost of professional development showing educators how to use the systems they have). Families, for their part, are often unsure how to find all the relevant data on their children, how to read data once they are given it (e.g., a report card), and how to communicate with schools about it. (see http://nationalpirc.org/engagement_webinars/webinar-student-data.html). As both educators and parents know, gaps in available basic data also can create gaps in student service, because people in charge of supporting young people remain unaware about some key aspects of their situation. Was Jose absent five days last month, or not? How are speakers of language X doing on standardized tests? Who is enrolled in which afterschool program?
  
 
In Somerville in 2009, teachers and administrators said they couldn’t easily view or sort patterns in student data because that data was buried in different “fields” in the student information system (SIS), which Somerville couldn’t afford to replace. Over the past two years, several local technologists, a teacher, and several researchers have been working with the teachers' families, related afterschool providers, and two principals in the Somerville School District to help create "dashboard" tools using open source software (free software that any developer can adapt).  
 
In Somerville in 2009, teachers and administrators said they couldn’t easily view or sort patterns in student data because that data was buried in different “fields” in the student information system (SIS), which Somerville couldn’t afford to replace. Over the past two years, several local technologists, a teacher, and several researchers have been working with the teachers' families, related afterschool providers, and two principals in the Somerville School District to help create "dashboard" tools using open source software (free software that any developer can adapt).  

Revision as of 04:22, 25 March 2012

Written by Mica Pollock, Jedd Cohen, and Josh Wairi for the dashboard project, with initial dashboard development by Somerville technologist Seth Woodworth with Evan Burchard, and final development for piloting by David Lord of San Diego

Click here for the <font color="#0000FF">Overview and key findings</font> on this project; click here for the <font color="#0000FF">Expanded story</font> on this project.

What communication challenges did this project address?

In diverse districts across the country, administrators, teachers, and approved service providers are often unable to quickly review patterns in basic data affecting students – like their absences, test scores, grades, and credits. This is often due to the high cost of cutting-edge student data systems (or, the high cost of professional development showing educators how to use the systems they have). Families, for their part, are often unsure how to find all the relevant data on their children, how to read data once they are given it (e.g., a report card), and how to communicate with schools about it. (see http://nationalpirc.org/engagement_webinars/webinar-student-data.html). As both educators and parents know, gaps in available basic data also can create gaps in student service, because people in charge of supporting young people remain unaware about some key aspects of their situation. Was Jose absent five days last month, or not? How are speakers of language X doing on standardized tests? Who is enrolled in which afterschool program?

In Somerville in 2009, teachers and administrators said they couldn’t easily view or sort patterns in student data because that data was buried in different “fields” in the student information system (SIS), which Somerville couldn’t afford to replace. Over the past two years, several local technologists, a teacher, and several researchers have been working with the teachers' families, related afterschool providers, and two principals in the Somerville School District to help create "dashboard" tools using open source software (free software that any developer can adapt).

A "dashboard" is a quick view of student data, all in one place. Our "dashboards" are designed to let (appropriate) viewers go to a single place – on the web – to find comprehensive data on each student, class of students, and the entire school. Particularly in designing our "individual view" (which would display an individual student's data to student, parent, teacher, and approved service providers), we’ve been working to design a tool that not only displays basic data on students, but also launches a focused conversation among stakeholders about that data.

The first dashboard below (our "administrator" and "teacher" view) shows educators data on a school or classroom of students. The "individual view" dashboard beneath it shows data on an individual student to student, teachers, parents, and approved afterschool providers. This view also allows these people to communicate with each other through the “comment boxes.” (Names are fictional to preserve anonymity.)

Admin Dash 2012-01-25.jpg

IndivDashSummary.jpg

Why is it important to improve communications?

What we found:

  • ¡Aha! A gap in student data equals a gap in service.
  • ¡Aha! One-Stop Shopping: People say it's crucial to be able to see different kinds of student data at the same time, in a single display.
  • ¡Aha! Open source data tools could save schools across the country significant costs, IF design goes fast enough, IF community users are ready to use the tools, and IF tech support for open source tools remains available locally.
  • ¡Aha! In addition to having the ability to quickly see and sort such basic data, diverse partners in young people’s lives need supports to communicate ABOUT basic data.

How do the dashboards work? How might they be designed?

How do you know if your school could improve communication?

Questions to ask about the current system in your school:

➢ To support young people, what “data” should show up on any data display, and why?
➢ How does your school make data on students visible to school administrators, classroom teachers, and afterschool providers? And how about parents? Which necessary data is readily available, and which isn't?
➢ What infrastructure would support actual conversations ABOUT "data," between the people who share young people?
➢ Which conversations about data should happen in person and which could be supported online? Could you do an experiment to test which works for what?
➢ What data isn’t found in any “student information system” but should still be known?
➢ Is your district spending tons of money on data display tools to get basic data in front of people?
➢ If so, how might low cost tech development or professional development on the tools you already have support such information-sharing?
➢ ***How can you ensure resources for ongoing tech modifications and tech support after you have developed your initial tool?

The Next Layer: Connecting to Folks Doing Similar Work in Other Communities.

We'd love to spark a lively exchange between people working on similar things.

Want to talk further?

Are you working on improving communications in your own school or community?

Contact point people for the dashboard project directly at:

Jedd Cohen (jic378@mail.harvard.edu); Josh Wairi (jwairi@k12.somerville.ma.us); Mica Pollock (mica.pollock@gmail.com)

Click here for the <font color="#0000FF">Overview and key findings</font> on this project; click here for the <font color="#0000FF">Expanded story</font> on this project.