“Better decisions require better information!”
This principle lies at the heart of the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) Grant Program. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, SLDS is a series of secured data warehouses comprised of historical education and workforce training data.
Bringing technology from corporate America to educators
Getting data from the warehouses to usable form is the challenge. Otis Educational Systems, a data management software company specializing in the education market, and IT solutions provider MATRIX Resources, have joined forces to provide a complete solution for states and school districts wanting to leverage SLDS funds to improve their educational results.
“We look at it as bringing technology from corporate America to educators to improve education,” said Mike Hadaway, OtisEd Vice President-Education Solutions.
OtisEd back-end technology grabs data from virtually any source and brings it together into data warehouses, where it is more easily managed and retrieved. By using OtisEd iMart Analytics front-end Web dashboards and mobile enabled apps (co-developed with BI firm MicroStrategy), decision makers at schools, districts, or state level can make more informed decisions about student or program performance.
Running lean and hitting the ground running
OtisEd runs a lean and nimble workforce, and relies heavily on MATRIX to supply the specialized contract resources to populate and lead their project teams. Many of these must be assembled in a hurry to fill rapidly developing projects.
“We really don’t have the time or resources it takes to find quality contractors fast,” said Tim Nall, OtisEd COO. “And every project is different, because every state and every school district has different needs. So, responsiveness from MATRIX is key. When we need a report writer, project manager or ETL developers, we need them quickly, and MATRIX has always hit the ground running.”
With a database of nearly 600,000 contractors, MATRIX usually turns around candidate resumes in a rapid fashion, often within a day or two, said Kimberly Nall, OtisEd Chief Financial Officer.
“MATRIX contractors are an integral part of our business model,” she added. “We could not continue to serve the contracts we have without them. In addition, we can pursue new business and scale up without worrying about finding resources.”
MATRIX contractors keep busy post-implementation, too --- developing and upgrading reports, performing documentation and coding, and updating back-end technology.
Unlocking previously trapped data
How’s it working? Although nearly all states have applied for SLDS funds, some of the most successful are OtisEd clients North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee and Delaware.
“All of these states are using our data management framework to retain historical data and future data,” said Hadaway. “In North Dakota, for example, they now have access to 10 years of data to do analyses of kids who started in school to track performance across their educational careers, and to ID at-risk students who are in danger of dropping out.”
Additionally, these states are leveraging data warehouse data to more easily comply with federal reporting requirements such as Adequate Yearly Progress, previously a time-consuming, painfully manual process.
In sum, one could say that a better decision could not have been made by these states to choose OtisEd and MATRIX to elevate their decision-making.