World Class Data Analysis Coming to Delaware

August 4th, 2011

Category: News

The Delaware Department of Education has partnered with Harvard’s Strategic Data Project to bring world-class data analysis to Delaware – with a desire to focus on preparing students to graduate from high school with the knowledge and skills to enroll in, persist at, and complete higher education. 

These efforts, which should parallel similar work underway in Fulton County Public Schools, will enable Delaware to:

  • Assess college-going rates among students with various levels of student achievement as measured on the 8th grade DCAS (i.e. what is the enrollment rates among students scoring in the top quartile compared to those scoring in the bottom quartile);
  • Analyze college enrollment patterns of both seamless (right after high school graduation) and delayed (those enrolling after the fall semester and/or at 2 year institutions) enrollers;
  • Analyze racial gaps in college-going rates – with particular emphasis on middle and high school student achievement levels; and
  • Measure persistence rates (students that stay enrolled in college after their first year) across Delaware high schools.

As a state, we already collect enormous amounts of information on our students (attendance, proficiency scores, grades, etc.); however, we currently do very little with this information on the whole.  One of our state’s Race to the Top commitments involves taking this information and providing it to stakeholders in a relevant and timely fashion to act upon.  This involves building a longitudinal data system (collecting and connecting information on kids in grades P-20) and putting it on a dashboard (secure internet program for parents, teachers, and principals) for people to access.  We recently took the first step by establishing the governance structure by which this data will be managed to ensure it meets all federal and state privacy requirements.      

And while there will inevitably be people who deride the use of data to drive decisions in our classrooms and claim that we are reducing our students to just numbers – nothing could be further from the truth.  If we can take this information and harness it in constructive ways, by both recognizing our successes and carefully acting on our failures, we can implement what we know works and start moving the needle on student achievement, and, ultimately, ensuring all students are competitive in the evolving global, knowledge-based economy.

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Brett Turner



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