Progress in Education Occurs When Nobody Knows It All
Most people don’t like a know-it-all: someone who pretends to have copious knowledge of a subject matter. But what if the definition of know-it-all is instead: to be extremely knowledgeable or experienced; to be well-informed? In schools, being a know-it-all who can leverage insights for the benefit of students is a great thing.
There are persistent achievement gaps among US students from different economic circumstances, and racial and ethnic backgrounds. As part of the many efforts across the country to close this gap, improve student performance and increase graduation rates among underserved students, the foundation has funded many programs that focus on performance-driven education, and on objectively measuring and analyzing what works—what helps kids learn, teachers teach and schools excel.
Beginning in 2005, large urban districts from Oakland to New York were asking the foundation to help them make sense of the information that was stored in a myriad of legacy IT systems. Many districts felt limited by their ability to connect critical information in meaningful ways because of the outdated and inflexible ways they had to access the information they needed. So a substantial portion of our resources were devoted to helping these districts build connections in their infrastructure and develop tools to give teachers actionable insights into student needs—eliminating the hours teachers and educators spent searching for back-office files, or using cumbersome spreadsheets.
Soon, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) asked us to become part of a statewide project to look at how newer technologies could be a better engine for state and district education data. TEA had an opportunity and a need to update the state systems in a dramatic way. We jointly envisioned an environment where information was stored and used at the student level, where interoperability was created through standardized data fields so data could be easily moved from system to system, and where implementation of faster, better and cheaper technologies meant the integration of legacy IT systems rather than their replacement. By 2012, some 6,500 Texas educators were making use of insights from multiple existing data sources to better address children’s needs in the classroom. Educators became know-it-alls with easy access to comprehensive, actionable student data.
Success Breeds Opportunity
Other states soon saw the potential of the technology and wanted to be able to access the same benefits as Texas. So we asked ourselves, what would it take to make a difference for millions of students—one teacher, one class, one child at a time? The answer led us to make the technology available for free across the nation, as it was designed to bridge the gap between educators’ day-to day needs and the technical complexities of existing school, district or state IT infrastructures. We packaged the data standard and related technology tools that had been developed in our Texas work and we released it as the “Ed-Fi® solution.”
Eventually, the foundation formed the Ed-Fi Alliance to commit the resources and focus necessary to ensure the responsible use of student data and advancement of the ed-tech sector. We knew we had created a high-quality, game-changing solution that could make the lives of educators, administrators and state agencies easier.
When we started working with Texas, we did not anticipate the creation of a national education data standard or the other exciting projects now happening in other states—but these were opportunities created by the results of the high-quality work with TEA and the Texas Student Data System. Today, Ed-Fi technology serves as the foundation for innovations like studentGPS® dashboards that transform data into insights, making it easier for teachers to teach, for students to learn and for schools to succeed. Progress is infinite.
- VIDEO: Leadership - Performance-Driven Education in the Classroom
- VIDEO: Training - Performance-Driven Education in the Classroom
- VIDEO: Process of data use - Performance-Driven Education in the Classroom
- VIDEO: Transformation - Performance-Driven Education in the Classroom
- VIDEO: Student – Performance Driven Education in the Classroom
- VIDEO: Collaboration - Performance-Driven Education in the Classroom
- CASE STUDY: Charlotte- Mecklenburg School District Performance-Driven Education in the Classroom
- CASE STUDY: Houston Independent School District Case Study
- CASE STUDY: Denver Public Schools: The Impact of School-Based Performance Management on Student Achievement
- BLOG: The one measure of success that matters: Better student outcomes