BALTIMORE CITY SCHOOLS’ DYNAMIC DASHBOARD SHOWS

GRAD PROGRESS, COLLEGE AND CAREER READINESS

Over the past two years, City Schools’ Data Literacy and Analysis Team, part of its Office of Achievement and Accountability, has worked to shift from a static student dashboard to a dynamic one that updates in real time. The dashboard provides information, not only on students’ Early Warning Indicators of attendance, behavior, and course performance, but also on-track for graduation status; a college and career readiness dashboard will go live in fall 2019. Each dashboard enables users to view and analyze both aggregate and individual student data. Along the way, the team has engaged extensively with schools and central office staff in the design process, and learned valuable lessons about helping school leaders and personnel use and trust the data resources they have.

The data shift began in fall 2017, when City Schools rolled out its dynamic EWI dashboard. An implementation study, conducted by Johns Hopkins and funded by the United Way, helped several schools begin using similar dashboard with teacher teams for grades 4-6. Early adopters found the OAA dashboard helped them quickly identify students slipping off-track and pinpoint root causes.

As the on-track for graduation dashboard went live in spring 2018, City Schools provided training for all guidance counselors in using the new system. Counselors were enthusiastic, noting that the dashboard saved time by enabling them to see at a glance which students needed extra support. Principals and assistant principals received training in the fall. Beyond the initial “trial and adoption period,” the Data Literacy and Analysis Team provides ongoing support and troubleshooting for system users.

During training, the team shows how the dashboard fits into the City Schools’ Blueprint “student wholeness framework,” helping school leaders identify multi-tiered system supports, resources, and interventions to address students’ needs holistically. This focus has been essential in encouraging school personnel to embrace the new system. Some have had previous negative experiences in which data was used primarily for accountability, but are reassured when they realize that the new dashboard is designed to enable them to support kids better. Already, across the district, implementation has led to a deeper understanding of the importance of attendance and course passing, and initiatives to increase parent awareness. 

The most recent feature added to the dashboard is a college and career readiness component. This section uses not only standard college readiness metrics (e.g., course grades, SAT scores), but also career and technical education (CTE) pathways and courses passed. It incorporates a college match chart to help counselors track whether students are applying to the colleges most suited to their interests and preparation.

As City Schools trains and supports staff to drive awareness of the new system’s possibilities, the data team continues to refine it to make it increasingly user-friendly and easy to navigate. On the horizon, the Data Literacy and Analysis Team members, with their colleagues across City Schools, envision a school-level macro dashboard, providing aggregate data on attendance, behavior, assessments, and the metrics included in student-level reports, which will help school and district leaders identify trends and issues requiring systemic interventions and solutions. They have learned that while transitions take time, strong cross-collaborative efforts and strategic communication outreach lead to important growth in capacity building.

Focus of Organization's Work

~ Developing a dynamic student dashboard  that updates in real time to provide information on students’ Early Warning Indicators of attendance, behavior, and course performance; on-track for graduation status; and college and career readiness

~ Helping school leaders and staff use and trust the data resources they have

Population Served

Administrators, counselors, and teachers serving the 85,000 pre-K through 12 students in Baltimore City Schools

Organization's Accomplishment

~ Shifting from a static student dashboard to a dynamic one that updates in real time to provide information on each students’ attendance, behavior, and course performance, on-track for graduation status, and college and career readiness

Helping school leaders identify multi-tiered system supports, resources, and interventions to address students’ needs holistically

~ Enabling counselors to see at a glance which students need extra support

Lessons Learned

Effective collaboration and use of feedback loops built around the users leads to thoughtful tool design built around user needs and an understanding of the risk factors.

Future Goals

Creating a school-level macro dashboard that provides aggregate data on attendance, behavior, assessments, and the metrics included in student-level reports, to help school and district leaders identify trends and issues requiring systemic interventions and solutions