Using Business Intelligence Tools to Improve School Districts

Improving America’s public education system has been at the forefront of policy debate for years. At the core of the debate often is how to best measure performance of teachers and school districts. With the help of Oracle, the Upstate New York School District of Rochester has recently implemented business intelligence tools to track student achievement and help improve decision making based on more accurate data collected across the school district. You can view the case study by visiting the Oracle website.

The Rochester City School District (RCSD) has about 32,000 students across 60 schools. Grades range from pre-kindergarten to grade 12. Within the district, there are about 6,000 employees. Interestingly, the student population includes children that speak 72 different languages, and are from 28 foreign countries. RCSD is an urban school district, and suffers from low graduation rates (54%), poverty rate of 87% and 18% of the student population are special need students.

The Oracle case study states:

“Like most school districts, it is focused on improving student achievement and graduation rates, but RCSD struggled with the ability to access, report, and analyze student, teacher, and school data across the district. The district needed a system that would enable it to access and act on data related to student enrollment, graduation rates, attendance, discipline, and at-risk students. It made several attempts to deploy small, custom, Excel-based solutions to provide reporting and analysis capabilities at a local level, but it did not have a comprehensive, districtwide solution.”

To assess some of these challenges, RCSD implemented Oracle and eVerge technology. RCSD was able to implement a solution that allowed district administrators and principles to analyze various kinds of data across the school district. Now armed with data to be able different kinds of student information and school district metricts, district leaders can make informed decisions based on data. The next phase of the plan includes using Oracle’s PeopleSoft Human Capital Management data to help centralize student data and link performance to teachers and administrators across the district, connecting over 4,500 district employees.

Oracle identifies numerous challenges to the project. The article also identifies that federal programs, like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have made tracking student and teacher performance more important than ever before. Oracle identifies the key metrics to track where retention, graduation rates, test scores disciplinary records and grades. All of these metrics were critical to the new system that RCSD put in place.

Oracle identifies numerous challenges for the initiative. Oracle cites the following challenges:

  • Provide accurate statistics to state and federal officials regarding student, teacher, and school performance to efficiently meet national Race to the Top reporting requirements
  • Load student information—including grades, retention, and disciplinary issues—into a central repository to develop a comprehensive view for each student’s history to aid administrators in enhancing graduation rates and meeting reporting requirements
  • Determine accurate retention statistics to reduce districtwide retention rates, as students who are retained in a grade are much more likely to drop out
  • Provide segmented access to student information for the system’s users, so principals can only view reports concerning their school while superintendent can access information districtwide
  • Automate procurement purchases and approvals to ensure teachers and administrators stay within their budgets and vendor payments are made on time
  • Improve payroll process capabilities, such as generating automatic, additional payments for employees who take on extracurricular roles
  • Eliminate manual, inefficient employee timesheet entry and open enrollment processes, and replace them with online self-service options

This was an interesting case study to read through, and an interesting example of how Oracle products are helping a local school district to improve the quality of education provide to students.

Oracle offers an optimized and fully integrated stack of business hardware and software systems that helps organizations overcome complexity and unleash innovation.. Check out their Optimize with Oracle group on GovLoop as well as the Technology Sub-Community of which they are a council member.

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