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Summary of Questions from Webinar 3:
Data Driven: Making Student and School Data Accessible and Meaningful to Families

Responses written by Jennifer, Salzstein, Program Director, ARIS Parent Link, New York City Department of Education

1. Does the New York City Department of Education's Achievement Reporting and Innovation System (ARIS) have data to demonstrate use by families, teachers, or other groups? If yes, what does these data reveal?

Since the launch of ARIS in May 2009, over 300,000 accounts have been accessed by students' families. We recently launched enhanced web analytics that provide us with better insight into the types of information parents seek most often in ARIS Parent Link and where they are accessing the site.

Not surprisingly, areas of higher poverty have lower adoption rates. We have used that information to target community outreach in areas with lower adoption rates. In addition, this year 128 high-needs schools are receiving technology and training to improve adoption within their school community. We hope that this grant will generate new strategies for outreach and improve adoption across the city.

2. Does the database provide information on teacher performance? If yes, what type of data?

ARIS Parent Link does not provide families with information on teacher performance. It provides family members with the information they need to understand their student's performance, track attendance, and support improved outcomes. It also shares New York City and New York State accountability reports with family members along with the support to understand how to use those measures to improve New York City schools.

3. What kinds of modifications or strategies are used to address the needs of adults who do not speak English as a first language, those physically unable to use a web-based database, or others who have barriers to using a web-based tool?

New York City serves a diverse community of over 850,000 family members. Each year, we continue to seek new strategies to improve support for all families.

ARIS Parent Link is fully translated into nine languages and will also be available French this fall. The tremendous Translation and Interpretation Unit within the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) translates all of this content and provides this amazing service for families. For many families who read a language other than English, it's a unique opportunity to view performance data about their child with the context they need to use that information. In addition to translating the site, this fall we will also be sending out log-in materials that are translated into the family members' preferred language codes.

Many family members do not have an e-mail address and may not feel comfortable going online. Parent Coordinators in every school have materials to help family members set up free email addresses, and to help parents log in to ARIS Parent Link. To reach families who do not feel comfortable going into their child's school, NYC public libraries and community-based organizations have been trained to tell family members about ARIS Parent Link and encouraged to set up computer stations where they can go online.

4. Is there a sample "student" form to preview for those who do not have a student in NYC schools?

We do not have any sample accounts that we can share with the public at this time. However, we will be posting materials that include screenshots at http://schools.nyc.gov/Accountability/resources/aris/default.htm.

Responses written by Barbara Taveras, Director, Community Engagement, New Visions for Public Schools

1. How does New Visions target resources and strategies to increase database use by families of high needs students?

Currently, the data tools we have created for families and students (i.e., Ninth Grade Tracker and the College Readiness Tracker) are only available in paper form. We make these tools available to schools periodically. They in turn share them with students and parents. Recognizing the limitations of this approach, and in an effort to increase family access to data, we are making the following improvements:

  • We are developing an online data platform (Datacation) that will give families and students ready access to live academic performance data.
  • When the data platform is up and running, we will train teachers, school staff, and family leaders how to use Pupil Path (the family portal) so that they in turn can train other family members in their schools how to use the data system.
  • In 15 target schools, we will work closely with families and teachers of at risk ninth and tenth grade students to use the data platform to monitor student progress toward concrete academic improvement goals.

2. What data does New Visions have that demonstrates the impact of using this data system on graduation rates? If data exists, what does that data reveal?

New Visions' data tool creation work is fairly new. The online data platform (Datacation) is under development. Once Datacation is up and running in the fall 2010, we will monitor and evaluate usage by family members and students—particularly the families and teachers of at risk ninth and tenth graders. Evaluation data will be disseminated as it becomes available.

However, it is important to underscore that merely providing family members with access to data does not necessarily result in higher graduation rates. Consequently, New Visions' data system is part of a comprehensive, yearlong parent involvement model designed to involve families in college readiness in meaningful ways.

The New Visions for Public Schools publication Plan.Act.Go.Learn (2008) provides a detailed timeline and a sequence of activities for students and their families to use as they plan for college.

Resource available at http://www.newvisions.org/sites/default/files/publications/NVCollegeguide-web.pdf

3. What are the indicators that foreshadow students in jeopardy for graduation?

In New York City, high school students need 44 credits to graduate. Students must also earn a certain number of credits in their core subjects each year (i.e., English language arts, math, science, and social studies). Students must also take and pass five state exams, or "Regents," with a score of 65 or more. Students at risk of not graduating on time

  • Have low credit accumulation, earning fewer than two credits in a trimester
  • Failed two or more core subjects (final grade of 65% or more in subject area)
  • Failed to pass any Regents exams in the student's tenth grade year

The New York City Department of Education provides multiple tools that provide information and tools to families on high school graduation including

4. What strategies are used to ensure that the data are entered accurately and in a timely manner?

The data accuracy depends on the quality of the data entered by the school staff into the NYC Department of Education data system. However, to ensure data accuracy and timeliness, we require that our schools

  • Confirm the course codes. This ensures that the credits earned by students in their classes correspond to the NCLB graduation program.
  • Activate Datacation's "extractor tool." This tool automatically updates individual student data on a daily basis.

5. What percentages of staff and families are using this system?

When our Datacation system is up and running in the fall 2010, it will be accessible to teachers, staff, families, and students in 76 public schools in the New Visions network. We will track usage on a school-by-school basis as well as by constituencies (i.e., teachers, parents, students, etc).

The New Visions for Public Schools Web site provides information and resources for educators, families, and community members on how they can support student learning.

Responses written by D'Lisa Crain, Grant Administrator, Nevada State PIRC, Education Alliance of Washoe County

1. Is there data that demonstrates the impact of this program on student attendance and student achievement? If yes, what does this data reveal?

With the Washoe County School District's new system, Infinite Campus, we will be able to connect student achievement data more closely with families who have attended workshops. We have connected program data to student achievement data for last year such as grades and credit attainment, but have not yet determined the outcomes for each student. The previous student information system had limitations that will no longer be a barrier with the new system. We will have more data on the impact of student achievement in the future.

The Washoe County School District portal for Infinite Campus also provides links to a variety of helpful resources for parents. Even though access to data is limited to the parents of students attending Washoe County Schools, this Web site still provides resources that may be useful to others in designing similar portals, including the district's plan for sharing assessment information with parents, frequently asked questions, videos, and explanations for key terms and educational procedures.

2. What efforts are made to specifically target families of middle school students?

We are utilizing the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project's model for positive home visits at three of Title I middle schools in Washoe County. Teachers randomly select students for positive home visits and to build relationships with 'hard to reach' families. Each high school also has a plan in place to reach out to students and families of incoming ninth graders the summer before their freshmen year.

Information on the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project available at http://www.pthvp.org/

3. Are the families of preschool children included in this program? If yes, please describe these efforts.

The Nevada State Parent Information & Resource Center (PIRC) at the Education Alliance does have a pre-k parent education component. We utilize resources from Virtual Pre-K, a local program called Family Storyteller, and we provide home visits. However, the Parent Portal is not currently available to pre-k students and families.

4. Is there evidence that this program has a long-term impact on family engagement? If yes, describe what that evidence has revealed?

The program has been in place for two years, so long-term impact is yet to be determined. The evaluation data collected thus far shows a significant increase in a parent's change of knowledge about the educational system.

5. Can you provide examples of high school teachers who reach out to families to engage them in supporting their children's education?

One of Washoe County's high schools and three of the middle schools are involved in the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project. Teachers randomly select students for positive home visits and to build relationships with their families. Evaluation data were collected for these efforts. One family described an increased level of comfort when entering the school after the home visit. "Now I feel that I can communicate better with my child's teacher. I'm more confident when I go to my child's office. Now I know that if I ask for help I will get it from the school. I feel that the school values me a lot since they put some of their busy time aside to come to my house."

Information on the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project available at http://www.pthvp.org/

Responses created by National PIRC Coordination Center

1. What qualities are important in developing data systems? How do individuals ensure that they collect quality data?

The following resources provide information on topics that can help to guide the development of new data systems or assess existing data systems.

2. How can data be used to support student learning and promote family engagement?

The following resources provide information, suggestions, examples, and tools for fostering data use to support student learning and promote family engagement.

For All Student Populations

For English Language Learners

For Very Young Children

For Secondary Students

To Share Data Between Regular School and Afterschool Programs

3. What types of data can provide information on issues that impact student performance in addition to achievement data?

Although achievement data is the most commonly referenced type of data in school improvement resources, there are other forms of data that also provide useful information including data on social and emotional factors. The following resources provide information and tools on using data related to these factors.

4. Where can individuals find local data that helps to define contextual issues in a specific location?

Each school community has access to local data sources through community organizations, service groups, faith-based organizations, and other local groups. However, there is also a wealth of web-based information on local demographics, employment, and other topics. The following Web sites are portals to national, state, and local data.

5. How can families contribute data that will help educators to address student needs?

Families and community members have valuable data that educators can use in making sure the needs of students are met. The following resources describe a variety of situations when data can be shared and information on the types of data that may be useful to educators.

6. Are there resources available that can help individuals recognize bullying, violence, and other safe school issues?

The following resources provide tools, explanations of best practices, and suggestions to address bullying, violence, and other safe school issues:

7. How can families learn about and engage in efforts related to the common core standards?

The development of the common core standards is a state-level effort to ensure that every child is provided a quality education by making sure that the content taught in schools across the nation shares common curriculum standards. The following resources provide more information on this process.

8. What is FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable U.S. Department of Education program. The Web sites listed below provide more information on FERPA:

Questions on this page
Responses by
NYC Department of Education

Responses by
New Visions for Public Schools

  Click to view a list of the 5 questions.

Responses by
Nevada State PIRC/Education Alliance of Washoe County

  Click to view a list of the 5 questions.

Responses by
National PIRC Coord. Center

  Click to view a list of the 8 questions.
This webinar series is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education's Parental Information and Resource Center program. The content of this webinar series does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Education.