Southwest of the metroplex of Dallas Fort Worth, lies a rural community of Stephenville. Debated to be the Cowboy Capital of the world, it consists of a predominantly farming and ranching community with 45% of students on free and reduced lunch.
Every student in Stephenville Independent School District has access to high-speed broadband, and 100% of students have a personal school-provided device. It’s all part of our commitment to creating an environment where students are given powerful learning opportunities supported by digital tools.
All of these digital tools provide an abundance of assessment data. Currently, we schedule three “Data Days” per year—dedicated time for teachers to pull, review, and analyze this data so they can use it to inform their instruction. While these three days have been helpful, many teachers wish there was even more time. According to our Executive Director of Technology & Digital Learning Shelby Womack, “We have dozens of teachers spending time on the weekend gathering these data points and putting them together to make these decisions, and they really shouldn’t have to.”
At one point, we worked closely with a well-known software solution that had the promise of a 360° learner profile. However, this solution wasn’t able to fully meet the needs of our teachers and our district. According to Womack, “Data is one thing, assessment data is a whole other thing.” He’s found that one of the biggest problems is finding good data, qualitative and quantitative. When you can’t grab all that information from all those places, you’re lacking that 360 view of the student that can actually help with decision-making. “No child wants to think that their intelligence is based on one test on one day,” Womack notes.
Our solution lies in Data interoperability: the safe and secure transport of data between district systems. “Seamless is about access,” Womack says. “If we are creating data all the time in all of these different areas but we don’t have access to that data in an easy way, it hinders our ability to use the data to inform instruction. When I talk to other districts, it’s really about programs– why can’t your data flow from here to there? When I talk to teachers, it’s about the visualization. One’s the cart, one’s the horse.”
After becoming part of Digital Promise's Assessment Data Interoperability Challenge Collaborative, we assembled a small district team of varied stakeholders. This team was focused on making assessment data more accessible to teachers. However, it quickly became clear that foundational work was necessary before being able to create a visualization tool. Some of this foundational work involved developing an Operational Data Store (ODS), working with vendors to help them become Ed-Fi data certified, and collaborating with teachers to find out which information is most useful.
After many lessons learned, we were able to begin to create and deploy an ODS with data integrated from multiple vendors. Now that the ODS is operational, we are working on an initial prototype of a dashboard that 3rd and 4th grade teachers can use. This case study will dive into how our district laid the foundation for the safe and secure exchange of assessment to inform teachers’ instruction.