The CORE Districts—eight urban California school districts representing Los Angeles, San Francisco, Fresno, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, Long Beach, Oakland, and Sacramento—are working with Wisconsin-based Education Analytics to identify predictive indicators for college success in grades 4-12, and based on those indicators, to design a user-friendly report to let students know where they stand in their postsecondary preparation.

This initiative is also providing the data needed for the Breakthrough Success Community, a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded improvement science effort to explore ways to help high school freshman achieve better outcomes.

The analytics project grew out of several districts’ experimentation and interest in a collaborative project to support college readiness. Using data from the National Student Clearinghouse and local community colleges, CORE and Education Analytics looked for predictors of college enrollment and persistence into the second year. They identified six major indicators: enrollment in rigorous courses (including California’s A-G state college eligibility requirements), grades in those courses, credits accumulated, overall GPA, success in math and English, and attendance.

Identifying indicators was just the beginning. The districts wanted to help students take ownership of their own progress, so EdAnalytics worked with Cricket Design Works, a trusted subcontracting partner, to design a report that would help high school students know where they stand and what they need to do. With funding from the Gates Foundation’s Network Improvement Communities Initiative, engineers and designers met with end-users at multiple levels to ensure the tool’s effectiveness.

The colorful paper report tells students whether they are on track for high school graduation, two-year college-ready, four-year college-bound, or highly competitive—or, if none of those apply, begins with a cheerful “Let’s get you on track!” It provides details on courses still to be taken, suggestions for how to move up to the next level, a checklist of focus areas and activities in each year of high school, and possible college choices based on individual students’ readiness. While the printed report can be mailed to students’ home addresses, it is also adapted to counselor-student one-on-one meetings; further, the system allows counselors to easily access aggregate and sub-group data.

While the rollout is still being finalized, the student report is poised for pilot testing in select classes at two high schools in fall 2019. Meanwhile, the fourteen high schools participating in the Breakthrough Success Community are already reviewing initial data to target subgroups for support and determine effective strategies to improve ninth grade outcomes in 2019-2020. These include summer bridge programs for students who had at-risk indicators in eighth grade and extra help for students enrolling in Algebra I. With a solid set of analytics for student preparation and user-friendly tools for students and parents as well as educators, the CORE districts and Education Analytics are providing students and families with the tools they need for successful transition to postsecondary education.

Focus of Organization's Work
  1. Building a set of analytics for on-track to post-secondary success status for students in grades 4-12
  2. Launching a multi-phase improvement community focused on moving and keeping 9th grade students on track for postsecondary success
  3. Building tools to support the work (Student/Parent Reports, etc.)
Personnel Required

Project Management:  Noah Bookman, Dave Calhoun, and Victor Phu

Research, Metric Development and Report:  Education Analytics

CORE BTSC Faculty: Juli Coleman, Amanda Meyer

School Improvement Team Leads in: Los Angeles USD, Fresno USD, Long Beach USD, Santa Ana USD, Oakland USD

Data System Leads in:  Los Angeles USD, Fresno USD, Long Beach USD, Santa Ana USD, Oakland USD, Garden Grove USD, San Francisco USD, Sacramento USD

Population Served

Students in the eight CORE Districts (above) and approximately 100 additional California school districts 

Organization's Accomplishment
  1. Building the initial college-going dashboard to support student success metrics
  2. Developing predictive analytics for 9th graders to support the work being launched in the improvement community (BTSC)
Important Factors for Success

Access to data and solid research using data to develop predictors of post-secondary success for 8th and 9th graders

Requirements for Success

Our partnership with Education Analytics (research staff, data strategists, programming, visualization developers)

Overcoming Challenges

Steps involved in overcoming challenges included

  1. Writing and winning a grant proposal to support the budget
  2. Building a common data infrastructure prior to engaging in the work
  3. Developing multiple iterations and maintaining communication/feedback between developers and users throughout the process
Lessons Learned

Solve the data acquisition question before you start working with users.

Future Goals
  1. Schools complete system investigations and begin testing change package 
  2. 9th grade historical reports fully built out
  3. Incoming 8th grade student reports developed
  4. Monthly student progress reporting
  5. Data dashboard on-track metrics loaded  and are surfaced
  6. Change package refined and scaled for use by additional cohorts of schools

Major Takeaways
  1. Set the target beyond HS graduation for post-secondary experiences
  2. Build progress tools for students
  3. Use data inquiry to build validity and reliability for your tools


At the Pathways to Adult Success October 2019 Conference, CORE Districts and New Visions for Public Schools presented Collaboration at Scale, a session on postsecondary planning across schools and sectors.

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