Fayette County Public Schools and the Tempe Elementary School District use Hoonuit in different ways, but both have seen the tangible results of district-wide data aggregation.
“We’ve always been pretty rich in data in our district,” says Tempe Elementary School District Director of Research Evaluation & Assessment John Wilson. As a result, he continues, “People in the district are used to having a lot of data available to them.”
With access to an abundance of information, Wilson’s district has struggled to leverage what they know into impactful, data-driven decision making. “Organizing and distributing all of this data has been a persistent headache,” Wilson says. “We’ve had to gather the data, post it to a designated webpage, and ensure that stakeholders from each of our 21 schools can access it. It’s been a challenge every time we want to distribute something new.”
Tempe Elementary tried to resolve this issue nearly a decade ago, but the data warehousing vendor with whom they chose to partner discontinued its services halfway through the process. After several years without a decision, the district decided to give Hoonuit a try. According to Wilson, the comprehensive data aggregation delivered by Hoonuit’s platform has saved district- and school-level administrators a significant amount of manual work. “Having data that’s easily accessible and always up-to-date has been a great thing for us,” he confirms.
Eliminating Unnecessary Manual Work
The breadth of Hoonuit’s capabilities has been a driving force behind Fayette County Public Schools’ data-driven success, as well. “A lot of data warehousing vendors focus almost exclusively on information that already exists in a district’s student information systems (SIS) without considering that running a district is like running a business; leaders need to know how all aspects of a school district are functioning in order to improve outcomes systematically.” explains Fayette County Director of Data, Research & Accountability, Billy Buchanan. “To do this successfully, you need to be able to view and manage all aspects of your ‘business’ — not only SIS data, but operations data, financial data, and so on.”
Buchanan points to a recent encounter with an elementary school administrator as evidence of the power of Hoonuit’s analytics platform. After a training session at the school, Buchanan showed an intervention specialist how to use Hoonuit to build (and share) a cohort of students based on performance on a specified set of exams. The specialist and her team then used this cohort as a means to filter through other pertinent datasets and arrive at the group of students who were most likely to require support and/or supplemental summer intervention services. “This one use case alone saved her hours of manual work,” says Buchanan.
Bringing Everyone into the Fold
Buchanan hasn’t restricted use of Hoonuit to upper-level administrative staff, however — in fact, quite the opposite. “Every single staff member across the district has access. Custodians, bus drivers, librarians, cafeteria workers, central office employees — everyone has access,” he explains.
Different types of employees have different levels of access — the superintendent can see data for every student in the district, whereas a specific teacher can only see data for students in their classroom. All staff are provided with the information they need to make a positive contribution.
“If a bus driver is consistently getting students to school late, that means these students have less instructional time,” Buchanan points out. “If my office is not providing high quality information in a timely fashion to our end users, my office is responsible for the way that affects decision making at the district, school, and classroom levels.” Each stakeholder has a role to play, and Hoonuit makes it easy for everyone to do their part.
Wilson has taken a similar approach in Tempe. “Thus far we’ve focused on training our District Leadership Team, Principals, Vice Principals, Instructional Coordinators, Instructional Coaches, Speech and Language Pathologists, Psychologists, Counselors, and Gifted Teachers,” he says. “We believe that Hoonuit will be a great tool for helping gifted teachers keep track of students who don’t qualify for a gifted program in a given year, but may be good candidates for retesting in subsequent years.”
Both Wilson and Buchanan are confident that building a strong data analytics infrastructure is a critical part of forward-thinking education. “You can’t expand on your efficiencies and effectiveness if you have no visibility into what works, no ability to determine why it works, and no way of sharing these insights,” Buchanan says. “Analytics is not just an expense or expenditure, it’s an investment, and it’s in everyone’s best interest to embrace it in order to ensure that their district gets the highest yield from its investment.”
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