Aurora City Schools
Aurora City Schools has no shortage of success stories. The suburban Cleveland district’s Aurora High School in 2013 achieved a top 10 ranking in Ohio, according to U.S. News and World Report, and its Harmon Middle School was also named a 2013 Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. Still, administrators at the 3,000-student district knew that to keep improving and achieving at a high level, each step forward would be more difficult.
Identifying students who slipped through the cracks for various reasons became a key focus for Superintendent Russ Bennett and Assistant Superintendent Pat Ciccantelli. They recognized it was critical to use data for that purpose. Like most districts, Aurora had no shortage of data on its hands – everything from state assessment data, interim or predictor assessments, College Ready data and classroom grades on exams and daily assignments. The problem was that the data was all disaggregated – both in different formats and on different scales. It would take hours and hours – time as administrators they didn’t have – for the district to get the data into a format administrators and teachers could even use. Even if they were able to do that, a bigger challenge would be how to get an apples-to-apples comparison of different data sets. For example, there was no great way to compare a student’s state assessment or ACT score with an English class final exam.
During late 2012, Aurora administrators took the first step of working with AllofE project managers implementing Matrix, AllofE’s data warehousing and dashboarding system. AllofE developers then designed a custom interface to correlate student assessment scores with grades either for a course, semester, or specific marking period. The design allowed the data to be aggregated so administrators could view the correlation for all students at a district level.
Ciccantelli said the Classroom Grades Correlation interface allows the district to identify areas where students may have unrecognized potential or target specific needs for improvement. Now, if a student is not performing well in the classroom, but he or she achieved a high score on the state assessment or ACT, administrators and teachers can see that perhaps there are skills the student has to build upon.
“Every time we make an update Matrix becomes more user friendly,” Ciccantelli said. “The system is so populated with data now that it gives us the ability to do key longitudinal analysis.”
The Classroom Grades Correlation interface can also help administrators discover specific trends, like a group of students achieving high success in the classroom but not performing well on assessments. Aurora can use the data to determine if there are pieces missing from its curriculum when compared with state and College Ready standards. Ciccantelli said this was all data the district had before, it just became more valuable once Matrix was able to connect information that was so disaggregated.
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