District leaders have a new state-of-the-art data visualization tool at their disposal for making critical decisions. Guide K12’s geovisual analytics integrates student information systems with interactive web-based software to enable administrators to filter on any characteristic and run instant queries. Administrators feel confident expanding a school’s boundary or offering a specific program based on the data the system provides. In this web seminar, originally broadcast on November 30, 2012, the decision makers at Miami-Dade County Public Schools relate how they use GuideK12 to analyze enrollment dispersion, student performance, student migration, and much more.
Geovisual analytics answer the question of “where?” GuideK12’s tool integrates student data with county data, which provides districts with a new dimension for analyzing school data with a fresh perspective. It is a web-based interactive tool that allows for visual insights that would be lost in a spreadsheet.
We always know the “who” in data, but “where” is often lost. Districts tell us frequently that data are often housed in different departments and siloed. GuideK12 helps liberate data and put it at the fingertips of the decision makers. We provide the right information to the right people at the right time. Historically, geographic data has been limited in a district to demographers or technical specialists. With a web tool, it is easy for any relevant person to access needed data and create scenarios without a technical background.
Because of the scalability of GuideK12, we can work with very small districts, or scale very quickly and work with very large districts or whole state departments of education.
Miami-Dade is the fourth largest school district in the nation with approximately 350,000 students. We have about 350 school locations, so getting a geographic view of our district information with GuideK12 is very powerful, especially since our district covers 1,900 square miles.
We have begun to see trends and patterns that we hadn’t seen before. We have a need to show the impact of changing boundaries; it is important to show not only how we increase or decrease student populations in schools, but also how we specifically affected each group of students when we changed boundaries.
GuideK12 makes it easy for us to come up with “what if“ scenarios while making it possible for many stakeholders to participate in a transparent process. We use it to demonstrate what would happen in different enrollment areas if we changed the boundaries in a particular way— such as moving a line to decrease enrollment in an overcrowded school and increase it in an under-enrolled school.
It used to take one person two days to make one “what if” scenario with our old system. He or she had to draw the maps, pull in data from our student information systems, and compare the before and after. With GuideK12, we can change boundaries just by doing a quick drawing on a screen. It has saved us a great amount of time and the results have been wonderful.
When considering changing boundaries, you need to look at many factors, such as whether a school is Title I, whether they offer free or reduced-price lunch, student demographics, etc. Shifting a boundary affects all surrounding schools.
Karcher: We are able to demo this data to our attendance boundary committee and show them true numbers and what will happen if we change boundaries. Having the data right there is very informative and effective.
Burks: Every piece of data we have in our student information system, from demographics to test scores, we are able to pull into GuideK12. When we presented a particular scenario to one of our superintendents, he said he would like to know which students with disabilities would be affected by a boundary change proposal. With GuideK12, we were able to see who the affected students would be, which schools they would be moving to, and determine if any facility changes or resources would be needed.
Fitzgerald: After putting a scenario into GuideK12, dynamic reports are available to analyze specific factors, such as capacity, social-economics, or demographics. These reports can provide the viability of different scenarios and can be exported for additional analysis as needed. Once a boundary change has been approved by the school board, the district can put a link on its website that allows parents to log on and see which school their student would now be attending. Schools have found this greatly reduces the number of phone calls to frontoffice personnel.
Karcher: GuideK12 helps with student migration tracking. We have many charter schools in our district. We wanted to know where those students were coming from and what their home schools were. We examined the programs the charters were offering to see if we could offer a similar experience in our public schools to regain those students. In many cases, we find that we can be competitive. Schools are changing to offer the same programs, level of perceived safety, and education as the charter schools.
We are plotting magnet choices on the map to see if there are needs that aren’t being met. We may then add a magnet or special academy to appeal to the desired needs. We are using the GuideK12 data to market to our students, as we have found that students go to charter schools based on their marketing. So, we are reaching out to parents to advertise the unique programs with the facts about our schools.
Fitzgerald: GuideK12 helps districts anticipate future needs and direct resources in places where they are needed.
Burks: We noticed that one of our schools was underenrolled upon using GuideK12. We were also aware that our special education programs that addressed autism were small and spread out across the district. We decided to develop the small, under-enrolled school into an autistic center, which has been very well received by parents. After Hurricane Sandy, I am sure N.Y. would have loved to have this tool to reassign students from closed buildings. Had we had GuideK12 during some of the hurricanes that hit Miami a few years ago, we would have definitely used it for emergency preparedness. It increases the effectiveness and the efficiency of the decisions in a high-stress emergency situation.
To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please go to http://www.districtadministration.com/ws113012.