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Cleveland Metropolitan implements Hobsons’ Naviance to optimize student success

With some 44,000 students, Cleveland (Ohio) Metropolitan School District was struggling without a centralized place to track college preparedness information prior to 2011. Students were being served by CollegeNow, an organization that assists with the advice and funds necessary to prepare for and graduate from college, as well as their own guidance counselors. All parties were using individual databases. The lack of structure and accountability led to low college enrollment and graduation rates for the district.

CollegeNow and The Cleveland Foundation, a local partner nonprofit organization, were each committed to helping CMSD overcome these challenges. Maggie McGrath, college access and success consultant with the Cleveland Foundation, wanted to find a districtwide system that would create more of a college-going culture. “Out of 100 students in CMSD, only 47 would go to college. Of those 47, only 14 would graduate,” she says. “I felt that creating a more efficient database of college preparedness information would help to increase both of those numbers.” After researching what solutions similar districts were using, the Cleveland Foundation introduced Hobsons’ Naviance to CMSD for the 2011-12 school year.

Naviance is a one-stop college and career readiness platform that houses all student information, from grades to course plans to SAT and ACT scores. Students can also access Naviance online to research potential colleges and careers, manage the college application process and create individualized learning plans that help them reach their post-secondary goals. Counselors can determine how many schools students are applying to, and whether or not they were accepted, and then use that data to assist other students in the entire college planning process. “Now, everyone that is involved in the college process, from the students to parents to principals, has so much information in one place,” McGrath says. “Counselors can now use the limited amount of time they have to help students with college readiness in a much more efficient and effective way, and administrators have insight into performance.”

The implementation process went smoothly, says Kate Schwab, supervisor of the Career-Technical Education/High School Transition program for CMSD. “Naviance has a three-day summer training session, where trainers and district administrators come together to learn and share,” she says. “We also have biweekly check-ins with Hobsons consultants.” Schwab also notes how Naviance facilitates a sense of community. When students list colleges to which they are interested in applying, for example, counselors can suggest other, similar schools to consider. Parents can also access the platform and monitor task progress to ensure their student is keeping up with application and financial aid deadlines. Schwab points out the ease with which Naviance integrates with other systems. “The fact that our student data systems could be uploaded into Naviance is hugely important,” she says. “Naviance is updated daily, so it always has current grades and information.”

Jeff McKissick, IT and data services manager at CollegeNow and the Naviance implementation project manager for CMSD, says Naviance has been extremely helpful in keeping an eye on standardized test scores. “Through Naviance reports, we noticed that 90 percent of students who took the ACT more than once got a higher score the second time. Now, a college advisor can easily create a list of students who have only taken the test once and prompt them to take it again. This gives great transparency; counselors have all the information they need to advise students in the best possible way.” McKissick also points out that since Naviance was implemented, more students have been applying to more competitive colleges because they are aware of more options. “Previously, our low-income, high-performing students were applying to just the local community college and Harvard, the only highly competitive school they had heard of. Not only can counselors recommend a good fit of competitive colleges through Naviance, our students are also finding it easier to apply to many more schools.”

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