Broader Student Data Sets are Needed to Support the Whole Child

Posted by Sarah SingerO

The following is an excerpt of Hoonuit’s Insight Report: The Evolving Role of Education Data. The report is a summary of qualitative interviews with more than 100 subject matter experts within the Hoonuit Analytics community and addresses key trends of data use that education agencies will need to focus on over the next 18-24 months. Download the full report.

The COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the lives of students, families, and educators. The pandemic, coupled with a tough economy, rising unemployment, and conditions of racial injustice, has significantly impacted the well-being of our communities, particularly marginalized student populations and their families.

As education agencies plan for the future and explore what recovering, rebuilding, and reopening schools look like, we are hearing that our district and agency partners are putting a comprehensive emphasis and balance on both academic initiatives and social-emotional efforts to support the whole child.

Dr. Penny Schwinn, Commissioner of Education for the state of Tennessee shared during The Hunt Institute’s discussion series, Conversations with States Chiefs, “We know there is a strong reopening that has to do with the whole child component and that has to be prioritized-–safety, health, and mental health of children will be first in the state of Tennessee.” Dr. Schwinn goes on to say, “our educators deserve information about all the children in their classroom so that they can more effectively teach them and know what gaps may or may not exist.”

ASCD defines the Whole Child approach as an effort to shift focus from narrowly defined academic achievement to one that promotes the long-term development and success of all children. As schools grabble with understanding where students are academically, socially, and emotionally, our partners have shared that data will play an essential role in building action plans to help students grow in every way.

Learning Loss and the COVID-19 slide

The full impact of school closures on academic achievement is yet to be seen. However, it is clear that despite efforts to shift to distance learning, a limited supply of devices, lack of access to quality internet, and varying levels of parent engagement, and are all contributing to wider achievement gaps and significant learning loss. NWEA estimates that students will return in fall 2020 with roughly 70% of the learning gains in reading relative to a typical school year. Students are likely to show much smaller learning gains in mathematics, returning with less than 50% of the learning gains and, in some grades, nearly a full year behind that taking place in normal conditions.

At Hoonuit, we are committed to helping educators understand the impact of COVID-19 school closures on student learning. Our intuitive dashboards and flexibility of our platform can provide insight to school leaders and educators to not only understand learning loss through integrating a variety of historic and new assessment data but to help pinpoint specific areas of need by surfacing granular mastery of standards and skills to help drive personalized instruction to fill knowledge gaps, monitor progress moving forward and get students back on track.

Social-Emotional Learning

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, social and emotional learning (SEL) was a focus for schools and districts aiming to facilitate safe, positive learning environments with students equipped not only to succeed academically; but also to gain the skills they need to understand and manage their emotions. As schools look to plan for the future, our state, regional, and district partners have all shared that creating a systems-wide built around SEL will a top priority. Hoonuit empowers educational agencies to administer SEL surveys to students at scale, correlate survey results with the broadest set of student performance indicators, and provide educators the much-needed professional development to maximize the impact of these learnings.

Predictive Analytics for a Productive Path Forward

Many of Hoonuit’s partners leverage the power of predictive analytics to fuel both their Early Warning solutions to identify the need for at-risk intervention and their College and Career Readiness offerings to ensure students reach their full potential. These machine learning capabilities help educators form a more complete picture of each student when face-to-face learning is limited. We’ve made adjustments to these models to account for disruptions caused by COVID-19. After modeling several different possibilities, these relatively simple adjustments create estimates with similar predictive power to the unadjusted model. First, we are removing data from the second semester of 2019-2020 in our predictions, and we will add an additional year of historical data to the model for a more in-depth look into student histories.

Bringing it All Together

Hoonuit has integrated a powerful and extensive combination of data domains in the industry that allows districts to closely track various academic & non-academic student performance metrics to personalize the entire education experience for every student. When educators can analyze students’ social and emotional health and well-being, they can help them overcome challenges and grow their academic abilities to succeed in the future.

At Hoonuit, we’ve built our organization on the notion that data is most effective when it is centralized, easy-to-use, and aligned with educational standards. When these data work together, they provide a framework and tools for educators to track individual student learning and well-being and provide a plan to foster success.

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