Rochester City School District Uses Business Intelligence to Track Student Achievement, Identify Areas for Improvement, and Accelerate Reporting
 
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Rochester City School District Uses Business Intelligence to Track Student Achievement, Identify Areas for Improvement, and Accelerate Reporting

The Rochester City School District (RCSD) provides a quality education for approximately 32,000 students ranging from prekindergarten through grade 12, and 10,000 adults in approximately 60 schools. There are 6,000 RCSD employees serving a diverse student population that includes children from 28 foreign countries, speaking 72 different languages. Like most school districts, it is focused on improving student achievement and graduation rates, but RCSD struggled with the ability to access, report, and analyze student, teacher, and school data across the district. The district needed a system that would enable it to access and act on data related to student enrollment, graduation rates, attendance, discipline, and at-risk students. It made several attempts to deploy small, custom, Excel-based solutions to provide reporting and analysis capabilities at a local level, but it did not have a comprehensive, districtwide solution.

To meet national Race to the Top standards and enhance the district’s graduation rates, RCSD worked with Oracle Platinum Partner eVerge Group to implement the company’s School Performance Analytics (SPA) solution, which is based on Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition. With the go live of the initial phase of the SPA solution, district administrators and principals are now able to analyze student, teacher, and school metrics and make informed decisions based on accurate data. Going forward, the district will tie its Oracle’s PeopleSoft Human Capital Management data into the centralized, data warehouse to enable RCSD to accurately link student performance to specific teachers and school administrators. Ultimately, more than 4,500 administrative personnel, principals, and teachers will use the solution.

 
Racing to the Top

A word from Rochester City School District

  • “Oracle always delivers exceptional products that correspond directly to educators’ needs. Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition has enabled us to consolidate our information into a single repository and analyze it to best adapt our processes to help our students succeed.” – Annmarie Lehner, Information Technology Officer, Rochester City School District

RCSD, similar to other urban school districts, faces a low graduation rate—which currently stands at 54%—and a poverty rate of 87%, well above the national average. In addition, the district has a disproportionate number of special-needs children, with 18% of the student population characterized as having special needs.

To tackle the school district’s unique obstacles, administrators required better information regarding student and school performance. RCSD’s prior student management system had information loaded at the end of each grading period, rather than daily. This limited administrators’ ability to track progress in real-time. In addition, some information was loaded into a central state repository that only asked for limited information concerning student performance. While principals and administrators could access information regarding student grades, they did not have access to attendance reports and student disciplinary records.

“To tackle our low graduation rates, we needed to get a handle on retention—what is our retention policy and what is happening in individual schools,” said Annmarie Lehner, information technology officer, Rochester City School District.
 
Federal programs, including No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, have accentuated the importance of metrics to track student and teacher performance. Key metrics include student retention—when a student is held back a grade—graduation rate, test scores, disciplinary record, and grades. To improve success, school districts must evaluate these indicators against individual teachers to properly monitor their performance, flag challenges, and ensure students are receiving the best possible education.

RCSD needed to replace its disparate spreadsheets and reporting environments to facilitate more efficient decision-making and meet federal requirements. The district worked with eVerge Group to deploy an Oracle-based system that would store all district data online and consolidate it within a single data warehouse repository for maximum data accuracy and timeliness—enabling RCSD to efficiently analyze and report on an array of data points for each student and teacher, across the entire district.

“With Race to the Top, it is imperative that we store teacher and administrative evaluations online so that they are traceable. It is also important that we tie student performance to teachers and school administrators,” Lehner said.

RCSD used Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition and Oracle Database 11g to consolidate the student and school information into a central system. The district then created a “Campus Scorecard" for principals and vice principals. The scorecard gives school administrators access to all the information they need regarding each student via various dashboards. Users can pull reports by different demographics, as well as access state assessments, regional exams, grades, and discipline data. The district added segmented security functionality to the system to enable only authorized users to access certain data segments.

“Oracle and eVerge delivered the most efficient system available to track and report essential information. For instance, we can break out student information by different demographics, such as special education and English-as-a-second-language students. In addition, we have backed up five years of information onto the system to help generate historical reports concerning an individual student or an entire school, which enables us to compare past performance to make better decisions,” Lehner said.

 
Enhancing the Education Experience

 
Optimizing Operational Efficiency

 
 

 
 

Challenges

  • Provide accurate statistics to state and federal officials regarding student, teacher, and school performance to efficiently meet national Race to the Top reporting requirements
  • Load student information—including grades, retention, and disciplinary issues—into a central repository to develop a comprehensive view for each student’s history to aid administrators in enhancing graduation rates and meeting reporting requirements
  • Determine accurate retention statistics to reduce districtwide retention rates, as students who are retained in a grade are much more likely to drop out
  • Provide segmented access to student information for the system’s users, so principals can only view reports concerning their school while superintendent can access information districtwide
  • Automate procurement purchases and approvals to ensure teachers and administrators stay within their budgets and vendor payments are made on time
  • Improve payroll process capabilities, such as generating automatic, additional payments for employees who take on extracurricular roles
  • Eliminate manual, inefficient employee timesheet entry and open enrollment processes, and replace them with online self-service options

Solutions

  • Worked with Oracle Platinum Partner eVerge Group to implement Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition to store teacher and administrative evaluations online and tie student information and performance to teachers and school administrators—helping meet Race to the Top requirements and improving administrators’ decision-making capabilities
  • Loaded all student information using Oracle Database 11g and Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition to analyze students by demographic or state assessments, as well as review each individual student’s grade and disciplinary history to ensure accurate reporting data
  • Acquired the ability to view districtwide trend reports and compare schools by various categories including attendance, subject, and retention
  • Consolidated student and school assessment information into a single system to enable school and district administrators to make smarter decisions and enhance the educational experience
  • Enabled principals, teachers, and counselors to monitor an individual student’s detailed record to aid their educational progression
  • Obtained a comprehensive view of student retention to put the district in a better position to address this challenge
  • Segregated user access by level, so that teachers can only access information concerning students in their classes while the superintendent can access information for any student within the district
  • Utilized Oracle’s PeopleSoft Financials to automate procurement processes, which enable administrators to approve purchases electronically, ensure vendor invoices flow through accounts payable for timely payments, and install automatic budget deductions to eliminate overspending
  • Used PeopleSoft HCM to automate additional payments for employees who perform extracurricular activities, such as teachers who also coach athletics teams
  • Enabled online employee timesheet entry and open enrollment to enhance human resources efficiency and reduce costs

Why Oracle

“We work with Oracle because it maintains the best-in-class, top-of-the-line products on the market. The company is highly respected and always provides robust products that are not equaled by any other vendor,” said Annmarie Lehner, information technology officer, Rochester City School District.

Implementation Process

Rochester City School District worked with Oracle Platinum Partner eVerge Group to implement the School Performance Analytics (SPA) system, based on Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition. The SPA system enabled the district to utilize prebuilt dashboards to accelerate the project.

RCSD began the implementation in May 2010 and soon populated data elements from its student information system to the new framework. The project initially went live in August 2010 for district administrative personnel and will soon be deployed for 4,500 RCSD employees.

RCSD also worked with eVerge Group to upgrade to Oracle’s PeopleSoft Human Capital Management 9.1. The district formed a cross-functional upgrade project team separated into human capital initiative, payroll, benefits, budget, and information management and technology departments. In total, approximately 75 people provided input for the project team. The upgrade was completed in late 2010, with testing completed in early 2011.

Partner

“We worked with eVerge Group on our implementation because it has extensive K-12 experience. The company can speak to our specific needs as a school district. In addition, eVerge Group had the expert product knowledge and structure in place to give us a jump start to our Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition implementation,” Lehner said. “It only took a matter of months from the time we started the implementation to the time we rolled it out at the executive level. This is appreciably faster than the industry average.

“eVerge Group’s staff and resources are top notch.”