Can more effective tracking tools help schools improve student performance?

Classical Charter Schools serves kindergarten through 8th grade students in the South Bronx and is one of the three highest-performing charter school networks in New York City. Students attending Classical schools have outperformed State, City, and District school students since its inception in 2006: on the 2016-17 state tests, 89% of Classical students passed the ELA exam and 95% passed the math exam compared to a 47% and 43% New York City pass rate, respectively. In 2019, we continued our support of an innovative open source data technology system that can be shared with other school networks. The tool, developed over a three-year period with our support, houses granular student-level academic, behavioral, and attendance data in one place which allows teachers, coaches, and deans to work together to identify conditions that might put a student at academic risk, thus allowing for early intervention. Our support is helping Classical transition from measuring performance and tracking these data points in separate silos (academic, behavioral, demographic, attendance) to managing information and results across these areas. Part of our grant was a condition that Classical make its data systems technology open source so that other schools can learn from the tools.

New Visions for Public Schools is an organization focused on system-wide improvement efforts in New York City’s public schools. As the support organization for 71 district schools citywide as well as the management organization for ten New Visions Charter High Schools, New Visions has also begun supporting 346 additional schools citywide, at the direction of the NYC Department of Education, with their suite of data tools. With this shift, New Visions data management tools are now used in nearly 40% of New York City high schools. The core tool, which our catalytic funding helped create, is the New Visions Data Portal, a comprehensive school management platform built specifically to address the needs of high schools in New York City through the lens of increasing graduation rates. The tool is designed to support schools in making timely and strategic decisions about students and in comprehensively monitoring student progress. In 2019, we supported the expansion of the Portal to include additional functionality related to college advising. New Visions is well-positioned to take this systematic, scaled approach because it has consistently driven increases in graduation and college-readiness rates by solving parallel infrastructure and process challenges related to the assignment of students to activities and supports, and the tracking of the completion of key milestones. It also has the technical expertise to design high-quality software as well as the strategies to develop buy-in among a broad and diverse base of school users. Finally, the infrastructure they are building will be embedded in managerial software which already has an authentic user base among counselors working in New Visions schools.

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