Money matters – maybe as much as teacher quality, student effort, and parent support – in determining education quality. A major public school district in the Pacific Northwest is working with BlueGranite to maximize every one of those resources. We’re harnessing data to make the most of every dollar, retain and recruit quality staff, raise grade point averages, increase graduations rates, and boost the number of graduates heading to college.
State and local governments provide the bulk of funding – more than 90 percent – for the nation’s public K-12 schools. Statewide sales and income tax are typically distributed on a per-student basis, while local property taxes vary by municipality. Most taxpayers want to know that their dollars support educational success. The data we’re capturing can give insight into what’s working – and what isn’t.
This district comprises nearly 40 elementary schools, and almost 10 middle and high schools. It’s already worked with BlueGranite to implement two pieces of a transformative three-part data strategy: to capture and explore both student information and human resources (HR) statistics. We’re currently working on implementing the third aspect of the plan – creating deep financial visibility.
The student system – designed to help reach districtwide grade point targets, improve student success, and watch graduation readiness and college plans – refreshes hourly, storing data on behavior, health or medical issues, attendance, demographics, historical achievement and test scores, and other measures.
The addition of artificial intelligence and machine learning will help identify key success influencers and surface a wealth of insight, including which teachers do best against which challenges and potential times of struggle for a student. A web portal, with embedded benchmarks, gives department-specific data access to administration, school board members, and staff.
BlueGranite designed the solution using Microsoft’s SQL Server Integration Services to stage and shape data; we then load it into SQL Server on an Azure Virtual Machine, giving the district all of SQL Server’s benefits and power, without the challenges and expense of managing on-premises hardware.
We’re using the interactive Power BI business analytics suite, with its rich visuals and deep transformation capabilities, to model and surface the data. The district’s dedicated internal IT team, staffed with Power BI pros, is also working to increase student engagement and motivation by “gamifying” attendance and achievement; this strategy will offer digital badges or rewards for completing specific steps.
Instructors are arguably one of the biggest factors in student achievement; and adequately staffing a district of about 5,000 employees is no small feat. The district’s staffing needs change annually; it typically only has about two months over the summer to assess needs and fill vacancies, which numbered more than 150 in 2019.
The human resources solution BlueGranite designed for the district refreshes daily; it will better address annual turnover and identify staffing opportunities among part-time, intern, and contract employees. It will also provide a “single version of the truth” – or a consistent, non-fragmented view of data; something that can streamline operations in this department, which has 150 different payroll reports, all reporting on the same things in subtly different ways.
Similar to HR, the elemental goal for the future finance solution is to bring everyone to the same well for critical data. The project will overhaul the entire financial reporting process replacing it with a streamlined efficient system that refreshes daily. The new, centralized source of data will speed performance and offer analytics capabilities to surface trends or highlight issues.
We’ve moved the district into the 21st century; giving each department a holistic data view, the district can now surface insights to parents, students and instructors to improve overall district performance.
Wondering how we can help harness the potential of your data? Contact BlueGranite today. We’d love to help you explore the possibilities.