Customer Spotlight: Keller ISD

Posted by Sarah SingerO

September 16, 2019

Texas’ Keller Independent School District has invested in accessible, actionable student data, and outcomes are soaring as a result.

Educational stakeholders have come to the consensus that detailed student data has  positively affected student outcomes, and in turn, school districts across the country have increasingly invested in robust data capabilities. However, while this enthusiasm for data is more than merited, districts often end up investing rather haphazardly. When this occurs, educators can become lost in overwhelming seas of data.

This unexpected challenge — i.e. sudden access to too much data — was something Keller Independent School District (ISD) encountered when they first invested in a digital data management system five years ago. A K-12 public school district in Tarrant County, Texas, Keller serves more than 35,000 students across 42 schools.

Prior to partnering with Hoonuit, Keller implemented the Mizuni solution to digitally streamline their student records, helping district administrators gather and centralize large amounts of data. For the first time, teachers had all the information they could imagine at their fingertips, but the sheer volume of data was overwhelming — data paralysis was beginning to develop.

Using the Right Data to Take Action

Keller looked to Hoonuit to build on their existing data warehouse and analytics efforts and ensure data was more actionable for both teachers and district administrators. The goal of the Hoonuit engagement was to prioritize certain data sets over others — after all, not every data point that can be collected should be shown.

By aggregating all their data — including assessment scores, GPAs, attendance records, disciplinary histories, and more — in a single centralized location, district stakeholders were able to visualize the entirety of the information they had collected over the preceding five years. This prepared them to make critical evaluations of what types of data they wanted to continue tracking and what types of data was not as relevant.

Keller’s administrators have also made it easier for teachers to interpret student data by giving them access to customizable student dashboards. These dashboards make it easy for teachers to access the right student data at the right time, enabling them to spend less time sorting through seas of numbers and more time working with students.

These student dashboards have made a significant impact on Keller’s predictive analytics. The dashboards gather national assessment data — including SAT, ACT, and National Merit scores — and pair it with local assessment data and GPAs. This merging of data streams helps teachers understand how students are faring on their journeys to graduation, and has made a tremendous impact on Keller’s college readiness practices.

Further, Keller’s improved data practices are allowing teachers to identify “bubble students” — students struggling to keep up with baseline curricular standards — much earlier and more accurately than before. Not only are teachers increasingly able to pinpoint when students begin to struggle, but they are also able to leverage data to understand why they are struggling.

By utilizing longitudinal insights into students’ individual histories, teachers in the district have been able to develop clearer understandings of each student’s educational foundation. If an 11th grade student is struggling in math, a teacher will be able to use the district’s data warehouse to identify that, for instance, the student has actually been struggling with this subject matter since they were in 9th grade. The teacher can then use this insight to craft scaffolded supports that will help the student fill in their critical gaps in mathematical competency without falling further behind.

Focusing on Student Growth

For all the reasons outlined above (and more), working with Hoonuit has bolstered Keller’s already strong track record of success. The district ranks in the top 25 percent of all public schools in Texas in academic achievement, while simultaneously ranking in the bottom 20 percent in spending. They also have a graduation rate of 96.5 percent — nearly seven percent higher than the state average. What’s more, Keller has earned the highest possible accountability score, a hybrid metric based on student achievement, progress, and gap closure.

One of the ways Keller has maintained such impressive student outcomes is by focusing on student growth more than student achievement. Many schools focus exclusively on ensuring their students are passing, and while this is clearly an important facet of academic success, it fails to account for other goals students may have for themselves. A student at the top of a class will have a different set of personal goals than a student who persistently struggles, yet it’s equally important for both to define what success looks like for themselves.

Of course, students need support as they go about setting — and striving to reach — these goals, which is why Keller’s teachers have developed a practice called “targeted goal setting.” This practice involves teachers meeting with their students to help them set personal goals for the forthcoming academic year. During these meetings, a teacher helps a student identify the level at which they are currently performing and uses that knowledge to inform realistic goal setting.

This is a far more nuanced approach than simply hoping every student passes their classes, but it takes time and resources to implement effectively. Fortunately, because they have easy access to organized, high-quality student data, Keller’s teachers have been able to make this practice standard procedure.

The Future Is Bright

Despite being less than one year into their partnership with Hoonuit, Keller ISD has managed to achieve a variety of improvements to student outcomes. Moving forward, the district plans to continue their ongoing evaluations of student data and double-down on their efforts to gather actionable, accessible data for their teachers.

As Keller ISD forges ahead with these endeavors, they can continue to count on our full-fledged, enthusiastic support.

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