Customer Spotlight: Howard County Public Schools

Posted by Kevin BensonO

September 25, 2018

Find out how one school district used Hoonuit to increase educator access to data.


When Howard County Public School system undertook a large-scale rollout of Hoonuit just over two years ago, district leadership sought to complement the district’s new student information system (SIS) with robust data reporting capabilities. They wanted a solution that would enable users to view data longitudinally, access data easily, and bring together disparate datasets in one central resource. We spoke to Brandy Iskin, Howard County’s Data Warehouse Coordinator, about the challenges and successes the district has seen thus far.


The Challenge of Data Quality


HCPSS’s Hoonuit rollout came with its own set of challenges. It took time to successfully implement the technology. A large portion of the work was dedicated to getting the data correctly into the data warehouse. The data needed to be properly mapped from the new SIS and from the legacy SIS.


According to Iskin, the district’s initial thought was to replicate state reports as dashboards. However, the data warehouse team realized this was not an efficacious use of Hoonuit’s many functionalities and near-live reporting capabilities. “State reports are a snapshot of data at one point in time and those reports already exist,” Iskin explains. “We needed to take advantage of Hoonuit’s capabilities to show near real-time data in order to be a valuable tool to the district.” The team partnered with Planning & Accountability and leadership to determine and guide the first set of dashboards.


Achieving a Successful Launch


One year ago, HCPSS successfully rolled out Hoonuit across the district. “We worked hard to ensure data was correct in order for users to feel confident about the tool,” Iskin explains. Iskin’s team sought input from leadership in different departments within the district to make sure that Hoonuit would accurately display the data those staff members were interested in seeing, be it disciplinary, attendance, or assessment results.


Previously, spreadsheets and pivot tables were produced for users to see student-level information, but they were cumbersome and inefficient to create. To remedy this, the district developed intuitive, easy-to-use dashboards and data walls that eliminated the need for those spreadsheet reports.


To date, the district has garnered positive feedback from leadership. “People are excited to have an intuitive tool that enables them to get data in one place,” says Iskin. Iskin’s team has also made it easy for Hoonuit users to access training resources: “Hoonuit training videos were created in-house that are available on our learning management system so that users can learn Hoonuit’s functionality, which is something users really appreciate,” she says. “We’ve also gone out to different schools and leadership meetings in partnership with the Planning & Accountability team to present not only how to use the tool, but also how to interpret the data in a meaningful way.”


Currently, the district has about 30 dashboards. As for what’s next? Iskin’s team continues to build new dashboards that align with the district’s goals and add additional data to the data warehouse as needed.

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