Published on 30-Oct-2009
Validated on 14 May 2012
"We needed a smart system where we could share real-time student information and identify where we are successful, and where we are not." - David K. Akridge, executive manager of information technology services, Mobile County Public Schools
Mobile County (Alabama) Public Schools
Business Intelligence, Smarter Planet
IBM Business Partner:
Reducing the dropout rate with better insight into student data
With a dropout rate of 48%, Mobile County Public Schools needed to identify which students were at risk of dropping out and which intervention programs worked. But because attendance, test and student data was disconnected and reports were out of date by the time they were received, teachers and administrators struggled to intervene effectively and in time.
The Mobile County school district engaged IBM and IBM Business Partner DecisionEd Group to implement a comprehensive business intelligence solution that provides a single, reliable, real-time source for student data; proactively alerts staff if a student crosses “at-risk” thresholds; and fosters the exchange of information with the District Attorney's Office to strengthen joint education programs.
-- Advanced warning enables teachers to address and resolve issues before they escalate, helping steer students on the right path and reduce dropout rates -- Insight into the academic lifecycle of each student enables teachers to create individualized intervention programs that improve academic outcomes -- Comprehensive visibility enables staff to easily monitor student progress moving forward and proactively adjust intervention strategies as needed
|With a dropout rate of 48 percent, Mobile County Public Schools needed to identify which students were at risk of dropping out and which intervention programs worked.|
|IBM and IBM Business Partner DecisionEd Group helped the district achieve an information-led transformation by providing a single, reliable, real-time source for student data that proactively alerts staff when students cross “at-risk” thresholds.|
|What Makes it Smarter|
|Advanced warnings and the ability to monitor student progress in real time enables teachers to address and resolve issues before they escalate, helping steer students on the right path and reducing dropout rates.|
|“We can show a financial return from reduced costs just by improving our reporting process. But the real return for a school district comes from graduating more and better-prepared students.”|
|– David K. Akridge, Executive Manager, Information Technology Services, Mobile County Public Schools|
|Smarter Education||Information-led transformation helps individualize programs for student success|
|InstrumentedCustomizable dashboards consolidate previously disparate information to help educators effectively gauge school performance and monitor the entire academic life cycle of each student.|
|InterconnectedThe system helps foster the exchange of real-time student information across agencies to engage youth in career preparation and encourage them to pursue an education.|
|IntelligentProactive alerts provide advanced warning when students cross specific “at-risk” thresholds so educators can take preventative measures to resolve issues before they escalate.|
Which students are at risk of dropping out? Which intervention programs work, and for whom? Mobile County Public Schools—the largest school district in Alabama with more than 63,000 students in 95 schools—had a dropout rate of 48 percent, far higher than the national average, and needed to know. But attendance, test and student data was disconnected, and reports were out of date by the time they were received. Without advance warning to identify at-risk students and lacking good information on what types of interventions would help individual students, teachers and administrators were struggling to intervene effectively. “We needed a smart system where we could share real-time student information and identify where we are successful, and where we are not,” says David K. Akridge, executive manager of Information Technology Services at Mobile County Public Schools.
Transforming its information architecture
The Mobile County Board of Education was inspired by a vision of a single, reliable source of information. Its first step was to engage IBM® to help understand the gap between the existing environment and its vision. IBM’s recommendation was to develop an integrated data warehouse and a reporting infrastructure. The next step was to develop a workable plan to effect a transformation of its information architecture. But Mobile County had limited experience in data warehousing, so the district engaged IBM to conduct a detailed engineering case study. This study gave Mobile County invaluable information on the best way to integrate disparate data sources, a projected implementation timeline, an estimate of the human resources needed to maintain the system, and the likely system costs.
With this information in hand and budget approved, Mobile County engaged IBM and IBM Business Partner DecisionEd Group to implement a comprehensive business intelligence and performance management solution. DecisionEd’s solution is built on leading-edge IBM Cognos® analytics technology, and thanks to detailed advance planning and DecisionEd Group’s K-12 experience, the system was installed and configured in just seven weeks.
|“We needed a smart system where we could share real-time student information and identify where we are successful, and where we are not.”|
|— David K. Akridge, Executive Manager, Information Technology Services, Mobile County Public Schools|
Improving school performance with analytics
This first phase integrated the various sources of Mobile County’s data into a single trusted source, based on DecisionEd Group’s proven data model. Predefined extract-transform-load (ETL) architecture and code along with prebuilt extractors for common K-12 systems brought all the data together, while metadata management helped to ensure that this information could be trusted. This framework and more than 240 predefined dashboards, reports and analytical routines made it possible for Mobile County to be up and running quickly and effectively.
With horizontal integration and rapid, accurate reporting Mobile County met its initial objective. But after the system was operational Mobile County managers realized how much more was possible. Instead of just using the data they had collected for compliance reporting, they saw the opportunity to transform their day-to-day operations. Mobile County is providing district and school administrators with accurate, timely information and analytics on operational effectiveness so they can gauge how well their schools are delivering education programs and monitor the entire academic life cycle of each student. More strategic use of information is now driving operational improvement throughout the district—helping administrators, principals and teachers to improve schools, not just to report on them.
Going forward Mobile County sees even more potential for analytics to change its operations. Whether it is using past budgeting trends to make better budget decisions, helping teachers find their strengths, or linking the district’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) more directly to operations, information is going to continue to transform Mobile County Public Schools.
Reducing dropout rates
Rapid access to information and analytics means school administrators and principals can make more informed decisions and take appropriate and timely action. Proactive alerts are sent when a student crosses “at-risk” thresholds. With this advance warning, school officials can intervene to keep students in school—preventing or resolving issues before they escalate. They can develop an individualized response to each student’s problems and monitor progress. Timely intervention based on real-time information is helping Mobile County keep students on the right path and drive down dropout rates.
School districts like Mobile County don’t measure benefits the way commercial organizations do. “The real benefit will come as Mobile County puts its information to work, driving down dropout rates and improving academic outcomes for its most at-risk students,” says Akridge. “We can show a financial return from reduced costs just by improving our reporting process. But the real return for a school district comes from graduating more and better-prepared students.”
For more information
To learn more about how IBM can help you transform your business, please contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner.
Visit us at: ibm.com/cognos
For more information about DecisionEd Group visit: www.decisionedgroup.com
Products and services used
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