Become a Data Hero

Posted by Shivani StumpfO

April 2, 2019

Hoonuit’s data solutions empower educators to focus on bigger, more ambitious initiatives.


In recent years, the rapid development of increasingly effective AI-powered solutions has raised understandable concerns about the threat automation poses to jobs in fields ranging from manufacturing to marketing. In fact, according to a 2016 Pew poll, about 65 percent of Americans agree that robots and/or computers will either “definitely” or “probably” be doing much of the work currently done by humans within the next 50 years.


Not even educators are completely insulated from these concerns. Though there will always be a need for talented educators and expert support staff, the proliferation of new edtech has led some educators to wonder how their roles will change in the coming years. Fortunately, any change is likely to be for the better, as most AI-driven tools will be optimized to take over the more mundane, arduous tasks on a school district’s plate, leaving its experts to do the creative, advanced, and rewarding work they most enjoy.


To that end, Hoonuit’s cutting-edge educational data platform was designed to help remedy some of the most enduring pain-points that teams tasked with collecting, processing, and analyzing data encounter. Here are some of the ways that Hoonuit can help make life easier for these data, research, and accountability teams:


Challenge #1: A backlog of data requests from stakeholders that take far too long to fulfill.


When districts rely on spreadsheets or disparate, disorganized databases, it often falls to a handful of people to keep track of where different data points are located and understand how to interpret them. Hoonuit, on the other hand, makes it easy for data experts to streamline a district’s data processes and deploy intuitive dashboards that stakeholders can use to make proactive data-driven decisions. This frees them up to work on higher stakes data and research projects.


“Since the inception of the Hoonuit platform, casual data requests to my team have gone down by 80 percent because we have the information at our fingertips,” says one of our clients, Albuquerque Public Schools. “What’s more, when we do get requests, we can fulfill them 75 percent faster.”


Challenge #2: Gathering data from disparate sources on a daily basis.


Many school districts rely on multiple tools to house and maintain a wide variety of data sets, but locating and using that data in an organized, efficient manner can be a major challenge. Indeed, that’s why many district data teams are so bogged down by requests — with data housed in a number of locations, it can take an expert a significant amount of time to track down specific data points. Further, even after data is collected, experts may need to complete tasks like validating the accuracy of the data and data transformation/reformatting in order to work with all this disparately-sourced information.


Fayette County Schools was dealing with precisely this issue before turning to Hoonuit. Before adopting Hoonuit, organizing and distributing data from numerous sources was “a persistent headache,” says Fayette County Director of Research Evaluation & Assessment John Wilson. Now, the district has been able to eliminate this inefficiency altogether.


Similarly, Albuquerque Public Schools’ Bryan Cockrell explains that Hoonuit has essentially given many people in his department a promotion: “Positions that were typically gathering and conforming data to produce reports are now spending less time gathering and more time designing and producing reports, in real-time, that benefit the entire district. We are answering data questions that previously were very difficult or impossible to answer.”


Challenge #3: No time for a dedicated data quality effort.


Before a district can undergo a total data transformation, it needs to feel confident that its data is clean and accurate. However, many districts get stopped in their tracks at this step — tidying up the mountains of data at their disposal seems impossible, meaning new initiatives never get off the ground.


That’s why Hoonuit has a team of seasoned data scientists, engineers, and solutions architects who are experts at setting up data cleansing processes and alerts to identify when data looks to be incorrect, helping districts get over this initial hump and propelling their data quality efforts forward.


With this initial step complete, districts are left with the far more manageable task of simply maintainingtheir data quality efforts. According to Cockrell, Albuquerque Public Schools are now “more focused on data quality and making sure that the data coming into the system is pristine, so the output is accurate.”


Challenge #4: Little to no time spent proactively customizing data for specific needs and challenges.


Bogged down by daily requests and tasked with constantly building spreadsheets and reports for numerous stakeholders, district data teams rarely find time to actually leverage data in ways that promote long-term, positive change. That’s where Hoonuit becomes truly invaluable, as it frees up these data specialists to focus on bigger picture challenges like driving better educational outcomes over the long term.


For example, another one of our customers, the Santa Clara County Office of Education, has been able to leverage data to inform educators’ work and build a data culture geared toward uncovering actionable insights. Stakeholders have even been able to boost the district’s graduation rate by six percent in just three years, increase enrollment in Advanced Placement courses, and reduce suspensions of Latinx students by 50 percent.


The Data Governance and Analysis Branch of the Hawaii Department of Education (DOE) has used Hoonuit to similarly great effect. “Hoonuit makes analyst employees even more valuable,” explains Hawaii DOE Institutional Analyst Shane Hedani. “They are busier proactively analyzing the data, asking for more information, and developing strategies for improving student success.”


Ultimately, each of these educational bodies has been able to drive positive change by integrating Hoonuit into its data processes. Far from putting anyone out of a job, Hoonuit has enabled educators across the country to tackle bigger, more ambitious challenges than ever before. We’re proud to be part of these heroic efforts, and are immensely excited by what the future of edtech will bring.

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