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Metro Nashville Schools Uses Outcome Tool To Identify Best Practices

In 2008 Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) began adopting a data warehouse strategy that was intended to provide a consolidated view of the "whole child," encompassing data collected from pre-school and school activities as well as from after-school activities. The MNPS Longitudinal Educational Analytics and Decision Support System ("LEADS") was intended to give teachers and principals in Nashville's schools a better understanding of each student's academic achievement, discipline, and other records. When they changed schools, their information would be immediately available to their new teachers and administration.

Now the district has deployed an online service that will help community partners gain access to relevant data and identify which intervention activities are showing the best impact. MNPS is using Social Solutions' Efforts-to-Outcomes Extended Integration (ETO-Xi) tools and resources with Nashville Promise Neighborhood. The latter is an umbrella network of 27 organizations in Nashville that provide numerous services to "improve schools and communities." Among Nashville Promise's partners are the local housing authority, Vanderbilt University, the YMCA, the children's hospital, the local food bank, and other services that support clients from "cradle to college and career."

Laura Hansen, district director of information management and decision support, noted that the support of those non-school organizations is vital. "To make gains in student academic achievement, Metro Schools needs the assistance of neighborhood-based programs to build capacity in children and youth to come to school ready to learn," she said. "To make a difference in the outcomes for the children and youth they serve, [Nashville Promise Neighborhood] providers need to be informed of the individual needs of each young person so they can target their services and interventions to meet those identified needs."

Using ETO-Xi, the district will be able to supply "rapid time" student level data to community providers to identify areas where student and family support services contribute to improved academic outcomes.

"In an environment of scarce resources and critical needs, it is essential that we understand what is working and what is not," said Adrian Bordone, co-founder of Social Solutions. "ETO-Xi allows us to move beyond anecdote and conjecture in order to measure the contributions and incremental progress that our partners are having in support of our students. This intelligence helps us to replicate our best practices and align our investments with the services that most closely correlate with our students' academic achievement."

Added Hansen, "In the same way that our data helps teachers be more effective in the classroom, we expect ETO-Xi to support data-informed decision making with our non-profit and out of school time partners. Our hope is that the framework we are building for the [Nashville Promise Neighborhood], funded by a U.S. Department of Education Promise Neighborhood Planning Grant, will serve as the backbone for a broader data sharing community of practice across the MNPS district. We expect this to be the model that progressive communities around the country will be adopting in years to come. We are excited to be among the first to put this model in practice."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.