TEXAS CHARTER SCHOOLS
Data integration, security, privacy, and insights
Addressing the unique needs of charter schools in Texas
Having worked with Texas charters for years, we understand the issues that you face:
- Investing in technology with less state funds than public schools receive
- Many charters have multiple campuses, so there is a need to aggregate data across schools to give a birds-eye view to administrators
- Sharing data with foundation, charter, and public school partners
- In some cases, pursuing aggressive growth with new campuses needing to be brought in to the technology fold
- The most innovative charters are using advanced analytics and machine learning to gain unique insights from their data
- Trying to get multiple software systems (e.g., SIS, HRIS, Learning Management) to work together
- Building around a standard data model, such as Ed-Fi
- TEA reporting/compliance obligations (PEIMS/TEDS/TSDS)
- Data privacy and security concerns, and accompanying compliance requirements (e.g., FERPA, IDEA, PPRA)
These are the challenges charter schools in Texas face. But technology leaders are well prepared. They realize that charters have a unique opportunity to innovate.
Charters can blaze a trail when it comes to using technology to measure and improve outcomes for students.
While a new charter might start with a hodgepodge of disconnected systems, a mature charter will integrate their systems to give a unified view of key data entities, such as students, teachers, and schools. On this foundation, advanced reporting, visualization, and analytics can be built.
The most cutting-edge charters are using statistical analysis and machine learning to gain insight from their data and to aid in decision-making for their most critical issues.
To help track where you are on this continuum, we created the Entrance Educational Data Maturity Model.
Featured Client: KIPP Schools
Data Warehousing and IntegrationWe’ve worked with KIPP for some time to build Extract-Transform-Load (ETL) jobs to move data from source systems into the KIPP operational data store. The various systems act as master record holders for select data entities, and the process of bringing them together involves a certain amount of reconciliation. Knowledge of the types of data you run into in an educational setting is key here. The result of that hard work, though, is a single source of truth for students, schools, teachers, etc., that KIPP staff can draw on to gain insights. The data warehouse powers their reporting, and it acts as the foundation for answering pressing questions needed to improve student outcomes.
Security/Privacy Audit and RemediationIn 2017, KIPP technology leaders became concerned with how PII was being stored in the operational data store. They were worried that a breach could lead to student records falling into the wrong hands, and that they may not be FERPA compliant. We did a careful study of the data mart and how data was being moved into and out of it, and concluded that there was work to be done. Over the course of several months, we reorganized data to make it less likely that students could be personally identified should a breach occur, and implemented encryption around the various ETL processes that fed the ODS.
Interactive VisualizationsOnce an operational data store is in built out and your data is clean and accurate, a world of potential is unlocked to do reporting, rich visualizations, and advanced analytics. Since 2016, we’ve helped KIPP get started with Tableau by building custom, interactive visualizations showing student, teacher, and school performance. This data can be sliced and diced by demographic, grade, school, teacher… just about anything you can think of. We also brought in district and statewide averages to show how measures compare to the larger landscape. Using these types of visualizations, as opposed to reports, teachers and administrators can “have a conversation” with data, asking questions and getting immediate answers, rather than having to wait for IT to generate a report for them.
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