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Texas Schools Gain New Student Dashboard Option


The state of Texas is hoping to persuade its districts to adopt a student dashboard solution following a successful pilot. As part of the Texas Student Data System (TSDS), the Texas Education Agency has introduced studentGPS Dashboards. The dashboards are intended to help teachers flag emerging situations among students, such as problems in attendance, class work, or test results, and to help them set and benchmark performance goals with the students.

Behind the scenes, the new dashboard system uses technology made available through the Ed-Fi Alliance, an initiative begun by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. Ed-Fi has developed a data model, data interoperability framework, application framework, and sample dashboard source code, which it has made available to districts to enable secure data exchange among the myriad systems in use by their schools.

The state education agency is using the Complete Data Warehouse for PK-12 from eScholar as part of its solution. The eScholar data warehouse allows the agency to upload and integrate data from multiple source systems across state districts and provides data loading, transformation, quality and management functions. The data warehouse includes 2,800 data elements, representing categories that include student and staff demographics, courses, assessments, programs, services, facilities and finance, among others. In the Texas system each student has been assigned an "eScholar Uniq-ID," which lets teachers access the record for a given student, even as he or she changes schools across the state.

During the pilot, the student dashboards were tested in seven districts. "Educators were excited to see data from multiple systems displayed in the easy-to-navigate studentGPS dashboards," said Elaine Rulla, Texas customer education manager at eScholar. "With a successful limited production release, the state of Texas is now ready to expand the TSDS system to educators statewide. The challenge is to implement an integrated, reliable, large-scale data collection system that will be the foundation for Texas to effectively use data to help students for years to come."

The Texas Student Data System is a major statewide initiative to modernize and improve the quality of data collection, management and reporting in education in order to support improvements in student performance. The new system replaces and expands on the state's Public Education Information Management System. The new dashboard is an alternative to other dashboards already in use by Texas teachers, including those from eduphoria and dmac Solutions.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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