District eyes data warehouse program

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Data-driven decision-making has been a popular phrase in the Steamboat Springs School District during the past couple of years.

Despite all the talk, the district continues to lack the systems needed to push ahead with the innovative and technology-dependent method of using student data to tailor classroom instruction to individual student needs.

But that could change within the next couple of months.

The district is close to contracting with two companies for a data warehouse program and student assessment package that officials hope will provide the tools to take the school system to the next level.

Data-driven decision-making refers to the use of student data to help educators refine instruction and teaching practices to meet the needs of all students. Schools and teachers have been using student data to influence instruction for decades, but new technology is allowing educators to sort and analyze tremendous amounts of student information quickly and in a variety of ways. Teachers then are able to use that information to address the academic needs of all students.

The district, however, doesn't have the technology programs needed to use the data-driven decision-making model effectively. Most important, it lacks a data warehousing program that will serve as a storage facility and sorting mechanism for student data. The district contracted with Executive Intelligence last year but dropped the company after it failed to provide some of the services it had promised.

"It was a disappointment," Superintendent Donna Howell said. "It was going to be an interim solution."

Now, the district is close to contracting with two companies that will provide a data warehouse program and a series of customizable student assessments, or tests, in a variety of subject areas. The programs will allow the district to include its own assessments, such as the District Writing Assessment, and use those created by the company to measure student ability in many areas. Assessment results will make up some of the data that can be analyzed and queried through the data warehouse program, Howell said.

"I think it's going to be very, very powerful," Howell said.

District officials hope to have the systems in place by July. The data warehouse program and student assessment package will cost about $80,000 for the first year and $30,000 each subsequent year. The programs will integrate with other district software and programs, Howell said.

The district has proposed creating two new licensed positions that would directly relate to the push toward data-driven decision-making. If approved by the School Board, two data management and technology support specialists would lead the effort to analyze student data and help teachers and building principals use that information in their classrooms.

The School Board has identified implementing a data warehouse program as one of its top priorities.

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