“If you build it, they will come.” A nice idea, but unfortunately not always the case. This is the reason DQC’s 10 Actions even exist. States had built longitudinal data systems, but the information wasn’t being used to effectively make change. In comes Massachusetts. The state has been a leader in education for a long time, and a couple of weeks ago I was invited to attend one of its district data training sessions about this guy, Edwin. (Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter @Edwin_DESE.) Edwin is an online system for educators to access curriculum tools, digital resources, student assessment tools, and analysis and reporting tools and responsible for transforming the way educators are able to use data by providing real-time information in an actionable format.
First, let’s acknowledge how refreshing it is that the state agency provided hands-on training sessions (including a data report scavenger hunt) across the state for their educators. Districts were encouraged to register in teams comprised of a district leader, school leader, data specialist, and teacher. The state was so serious about this team component that I had to fudge my registration and add a fake team member.
Edwin has two components: Edwin Teaching and Learning and Edwin Analytics. We’ll focus here on the analytics side because that’s where you’ll find all of the exciting data reports. My favorites include the early warning indicator system (EWIS) and postsecondary readiness and success reports. EWIS is a tool for districts to identify students at risk of not meeting four academic goals spanning from first grade through high school graduation. This DQC video shares the perspective of counselors, school administrators, superintendents, and more describing the value of EWIS use in their work to ensure all students are successful. And the postsecondary readiness and success reports provide a level of feedback to high schools not available in most states. There are reports that follow students no matter which postsecondary institution they choose to attend after high school—four-year private or public colleges, two-year colleges, community colleges, and more. More impressively, the reports contain not only postsecondary enrollment but also second-year persistence and first degree obtainment.
If you’re a teacher and have appropriate authorization, Edwin Analytics allows you to drill down all the way to the student-level so you can see data for students in your current classroom. If you’re a principal, Edwin Analytics provides school-level information and allows you to compare your school to others in the district and state. If you’re a district leader, Edwin Analytics provides aggregate-level reports for the district so you can see what programs are working and where to implement change.
No matter where you sit, Edwin is the man. Massachusetts built the system and transformed the data into actionable information through Edwin by engaging districts in the process and providing this valuable tool (for free) for district use. As a result, educators have come and are using data to impact change.
We are continuing the celebration of our recently released Data for Action 2013! Over the next several months, we will be releasing fact sheets that dig deeper into today’s most pressing policy issues. This year, our policy issues are early warning (today!), teacher access (January 2014), high school feedback reports (February), jobs (March), and parent access (April).
Today we release our first policy issue fact sheet, Supporting Early Warning Systems. An increasing number of states are producing early warning reports to help educators identify students who may be at risk of dropping out of school and need support to get back on track. In some states, early warning reports are also used to identify students who should take more rigorous courses.
Massachusetts has been hard at work implementing an early warning indicator system (EWIS). Be sure to watch our new video about the EWIS and how it helps educators ensure that all students are successful.