How do schools measure success? Common wisdom says that in public schools, grades and standardized test scores determine completion rates, while in post-secondary institutions, the number of degrees granted reflects long-term success. As noted by The Journal, however, more and more schools are now choosing Business Intelligence tools to help them hone in on student success at every step of their post-secondary path.
Step by Step
According to a recent Information Week article, the Nashville School District believes that analytics should play a part in the classroom beginning in Kindergarten. The district has partnered with a nonprofit organization, Data Quality Campaign, to unify disparate data sources in a single warehouse and then mine these new data sets for insight. The result? Business Intelligence coordinator Margie Johnson of Metropolitan Public Schools says the district has seen improved graduation rates, increased attendance, and now has access to an early-warning system which identifies at-risk students.
Post-secondary schools are the next step; a National Journal article discusses the system put in place by Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), which allows college advisors to tap student data and reach out to those who need help. For example, many students not only attend college full-time, but also work to support themselves and other family members. By identifying trends in attendance, grades or course completion, advisors can help keep students in school and off the dropout list.
Finding the Right Tools
Just like their corporate counterparts, primary schools and universities need to be choosy when it comes to Business Intelligence (BI) spending. With so many tools available both on-premises and in the cloud, it’s easy to blow IT budgets before the semester starts—and if the solutions chosen don’t align with school goals, the results are underwhelming.
Information Week recently published a top-ten list of BI tools for enterprises, many of which offer similar benefits for schools. Ideally, educational institutions should opt for tools that support sophisticated visualizations and data science in the cloud, allowing schools administrators to easily analyze data, uncover relationships, and communicate the results to key stakeholders—from students and parents to school boards and trustees.
With schools now borrowing from business best practices to achieve optimal student success, BI adoption only makes sense. Getting the best ROI, however, means choosing tools that are powerful, simple to use and easily accessible.