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Transforming Education through Advanced Analytics: Partnering with Saratoga Springs City School District

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At SchoolTool, our commitment extends far beyond simply providing software—we're deeply invested as dedicated partners in education. With a mission centered around collaboration and a customer-centric approach, we work hand-in-hand with our RIC partners and school districts to ensure the success of every student.  

We're excited to share how we integrated Saratoga Springs City School District's feedback into our Advanced Analytics, aligning with their district's data objectives. We also extend our thanks to them for participating in our pilot program, which was instrumental in shaping the development of our advanced analytics set to launch this summer. 

Saratoga Springs City School District's Dashboard Journey 

Three years ago, the Saratoga Springs City School District (SSCSD) began implementing SchoolTool’s legacy dashboards, with a primary focus on establishing SMARTIE (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound, Inclusive, and Equitable) goals for their PLTs (Professional Learning Teams). Before adopting our SchoolTool legacy dashboards, SCSD conducted much of their analysis independently. To refine their focus on inclusivity and equity within their SMARTIE goals, they implemented our SchoolTool legacy dashboards.  By looking at student success metrics, SSCSD pinpointed areas of success and challenges within specific classes and departments, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Putting Data in Teachers' Hands 

Previously, school administrators would look at high-level student data and then share their findings with teachers, so SSCSD's goal was to empower teachers by putting data directly into their own hands. This direct data approach allowed teachers the ability to engage in meaningful conversations and present insights back to administrators. SSCSD put significant effort over two years to not only familiarize teachers with the legacy dashboards but also to facilitate discussions around the data they were observing. 

SchoolTool Legacy Dashboards Feedback to Shape SchoolTool Advanced Analytics

When we approached SSCSD about developing our Advanced Analytics, we aimed to collaborate closely with them. SSCSD provided extensive feedback on our SchoolTool legacy dashboards, highlighting their preferences and suggesting improvements for our Advanced Analytics. Here are some of their insights: 

  1. Tailored Customization: Customizability emerged as a key requirement for the new advanced analytics dashboards, catering to the diverse needs of different SSCSD departments and grade levels. What a 6th grade science teacher may need may be different than what the math or art department needs. 
  2. Easily Share Dashboards: SSCSD wanted to be able to easily share dashboards and give secure access across buildings. If 3rd-grade teachers across multiple school buildings are concentrating on the same topic, SSCSD didn’t want each of them to duplicate efforts individually. They desired the ability to build, share, and specify access to dashboards and fields. 
  3. Streamlining Data Accessibility and Permissions: SSCSD desired to view multiple data points simultaneously. In our legacy dashboards, disciplinary referrals and attendance were located separately, making it challenging to obtain a comprehensive overview. Navigating permissions for drilling down into student details posed additional complexity. This process resulted in large spreadsheets, posing challenges for less proficient Excel users. SSCSD also emphasized the need to tag students for targeted analysis, such as identifying specific criteria or tracking academic progress over time. Additionally, refining date range selections and access permissions, particularly distinguishing between teacher and administrator views, is a priority. 
  4. Leveraging Natural Language Querying: The ability for SSCSD teachers to formulate their questions and access data without assistance is essential. They may have questions but might not know how to navigate to find the answers. Leveraging AI to guide them through this process would be particularly helpful for those who are less experienced. 

How We Implemented Saratoga Springs City School District's Feedback 

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SSCSD, along with around 20 other districts, was part of our initial Advanced Analytics pilot program, aiding in the testing and refinement of our new platform. Here's how we integrated SSCSD's feedback: 

Customizing Dashboards

Tailored Customization for Dashboards: One of Saratoga's needs is customizability. Part of our Advanced Analytics platform involves RICs (Regional Information Centers) that can build dashboards for their component districts. For example, a BOCES might create dashboards for specific initiatives, while districts can also create their own dashboards.  

Authoring Access Capability: One key feature is author access capability. This allows districts to build exactly what they need, rather than just relying on us here at Mindex to determine their needs. We also allow districts to customize on top of the solutions we provide. 

Streamlining Data Accessibility and Permissions 

Easily Share Dashboards and Data: Each region has its own account, with the Regional Information Center encompassing all the districts in that region. This setup allows the Regional Information Center to create combined dashboards across their districts. For example, a district might share nursing test scores in comparative dashboards, enabling districts to see how they perform against similar districts. Additionally, if a group of districts has a special initiative and wants to combine and analyze information together, we now have the capabilities to support that. 

Robust Security Measures: Our Advanced Analytics platform offers enhanced granular security control, providing specific access permissions based on user roles and responsibilities. For example, teachers can have general access to the system, limiting them to their own students' data. School leaders can decide which user groups get full building access to all data. 

Easy Data Filtering and Comparative Analysis: We've been hard at work making filtering in our dashboards easier and enabling side-by-side comparisons of data. For instance, our absenteeism dashboard aligns with New York State standards for chronic absenteeism, offering three risk levels. Users can filter data by four major demographic categories at the top of many dashboards, making it simple to focus on specific groups like students with a 20% or higher absentee rate. We've also made it easy to filter data by clicking on graphics, catering to users who prefer visual navigation. And for those who prefer Excel, data export is available for further analysis. 

Implementing GenAI Technology 

Intuitive Natural Language Querying: We are excited to announce that over the next few months, we will be implementing natural language capabilities, having recently participated in beta testing Amazon Q on QuickSight. This innovative tool allows educators to type questions in natural language, and AI-driven visuals will provide the answers. This development is particularly beneficial for less tech-savvy individuals, empowering them to obtain the insights they need without requiring technical assistance. 

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Experience Our Advanced Analytics 

We've received glowing feedback about our Advanced Analytics capabilities and are thrilled to share them with a wider audience. Whether or not you're currently a SchoolTool customer (you can have SchoolTool Advanced Analytics without being a SchoolTool SMS district), we invite you to explore the possibilities. We're eager to showcase our advanced analytics through a quick demo tailored to your interests.

Don't miss out—sign up today and discover how our platform can transform your approach to education! 

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