Using Data to Take Action: Transforming the Way We Prepare Students for College and Career

Posted by Courtney StevensO

Turn your district’s data into targeted, actionable insights that will improve students’ college and career readiness.


Nearly every school district strives to help its students achieve college and career readiness (CCR), but few districts are able to tie CCR achievement data to specific, tangible action taken. While most districts look at overall graduation and college enrollment rates, it can be challenging to connect the dots between big picture percentages and individual successes. And most importantly, answer the question why are some students more prepared? So that resources can be used effectively and efficiently to expand on and replicate successful activities.


For example, a district may see that college enrollment has slipped from 85 to 80 percent over five years. While administrators may have a hunch as to what’s driving the trend or even work to evaluate the decrease on a student-by-student basis, it’s virtually impossible to draw conclusions without granular insights into how different variables impact overall CCR. In order to understand what is going on, it’s essential for districts to collect and organize student data in way that creates a window into course completion trends and allows educators to track student progress in real time.


And while most districts have access to National Clearinghouse data, they typically don’t have the time, manpower, or resources to use that data — for anything other than the 10,000-foot view of school or district achievement — and turn it into more granular, actionable information. However, with the right data reporting processes in place, districts can view and manipulate holistic district-, school-, cohort-, and student-level data to discover precisely which factors have led to certain trends.


Let’s take a look at a few examples of important CCR-related questions that, with the right reporting and analytics solutions in place, can transform how you prepare students for college and career:


Example 1: How many students who were in the bottom quartile in eighth grade were able to make up ground, graduate, and then go on to enroll in college?




Students who aren’t on track to graduate at the beginning of their sophomore year often fail to recover in the subsequent three years of high school, making ninth grade one of the most critical years for building a student’s college and career readiness.


That’s why every school district should prioritize getting kids back on track as soon as high school begins by establishing tangible courses of action for students who are struggling to complete key courses on time.


Example 2: Are there district-wide racial inequities when it comes to college progression, and if so, what are they?




The graph above reflects the percentage of ninth-graders of different races and ethnicities who complete high school on time, seamlessly enroll in college, and continue on to their second year of college. Information of this kind serves multiple important functions for educators, administrators, and district leadership as they gauge their students’ CCR.


First, this data illustrates how race and ethnicity come into play across the district, allowing leadership to identify at-risk groups and provide proactive support. It also reflects the ability of the district’s graduates to persist once they enter college, a metric that’s arguably a better reflection of CCR than college enrollment rates alone.


Students whose secondary schools don’t properly prepare them for the rigors of higher education often find themselves unable to cope with the heavy workload of freshman year. Metrics like those in the above graph have the potential to reveal significant preparedness gaps and function as a more honest depiction of college readiness than enrollment rates.


Example 3: Based on multiple factors and longitudinal data, which students are prepared for college — and how can your district provide targeted interventions?





While the first two examples offer districts granular insights into the factors that are negatively impacting CCR among various student groups, it’s also important for districts to have access to a clear-cut CCR dashboard that tracks overall progress in real time. This helps you answer questions like: Are students on/off track for graduation? Are students prepared to meet college entrance requirements?


The dashboard above uses predictive analytics to show district leaders exactly how many students are on track for college (and how many aren’t) based multiple factors, including standardized test scores, course enrollment, and grades. This intuitive visualization empowers districts to identify which students are in need of additional support or intervention and quickly take action to provide what’s needed.


What’s more, student data walls like the one below drill down beneath big-picture student body statistics to look at the individual students. Who exactly is at-risk, and what risk factors is that individual student exhibiting? This enables educators to visualize student progress at any given moment, and to quickly identify what issues are contributing to their at-risk status.




Ultimately, optimizing students’ CCR involves detecting patterns in their progress and using them to inform targeted action. Access to real-time data and actionable insights is transforming the way educators are able to prepare students for success after high school. That’s why Hoonuit’s college and career readiness solution is designed to not only evaluate a student’s level of need, but to identify the specific factors underlying that need.


Interested in learning more? Download the white paper: “Dispelling College and Career Readiness Myths.”



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