Delaware educators have another tool for tracking student successes and challenges in school.
The Department of Education unveiled an online data dashboard Wednesday that unifies a number of databases across the state from the eSchool attendance program to Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System scores.
Four schools piloted the program last year, one in each county and a charter school. The system will roll out Tuesday to the rest of the schools in the state.
One of the pilot schools is Bunker Hill Elementary School in Middletown. The building’s principal, Jeff Davis, said the first year of the program, staff focused on how the dashboard can be used by the school.
Davis said the dashboard is convenient and comprehensive and would be particularly helpful during parent-teacher conferences.
“I don’t think (the public) knows the sheer volume of information responsible educators look at,” Davis said. He added that he feels the program is both efficient and user-friendly.
Michelle Ledrich, a first grade teacher at the school agreed and said from her standpoint, the dashboard will cut down on the paper organization and record-keeping she used to spend time on every year.
“We’ve had different sites to go on,” she said. “I know I always kept a folder for each student. Now I won’t have to do that.”
Each night, the dashboard pulls information, including disciplinary and academic records, from a data warehouse into the program to keep the document updated.
When certain metrics are met, flags will appear on student profiles. For instance, if a student falls below a 88 percent attendance rate, there will be a flag. The dashboard will also track whether this is a downward trend in attendance or if there is improvement.
For test scores, there will also be graphs detailing how the student has down in previous test cycles. In this first year the records will go back six years, next year it will be seven and so forth and so on. Eventually, students’ entire school career will be tracked in the program.
“If you were a teacher, it would be a real challenge to come up with all this information on your own,” said Donald Berry, an education associate for Pupil Accounting and Quality Control for DDOE, who worked on creating the dashboard.
The dashboard was modeled after a similar database used in Texas. Berry said the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation in Texas gave DDOE access to their program free of charge which shaved considerably time off the development of Delaware’s dashboard. In return, Delaware shared any changes or additions made to the model with the Dell Foundation.
Changes and additions included graphic elements suggested by teachers, Berry said. Most goals and thresholds in test scores and grades are seen at a glance in student reports online.
When logged on to the dashboard, teachers will be able to see any of their students records (but no other teachers’ students), principals can access any of their school’s students’ records and the entire district’s records will be available to certain district administrators.
Making records available to parents is being considered, Berry said, but it “isn’t on the short list.” He said protecting the security of the records would have to be the first priority before opening the dashboard to parents.
Funding for the dashboard came from Delaware’s $119 million federal Race to the Top grant.