Rock Hill School District depends on data to ensure instructional dollars are used effectively
When school districts in South Carolina faced budget cuts, the Rock Hill School District analyzed data to determine academic needs before making decisions about cuts, thus making informed decisions to solve its budget problems. Rock Hill could make data-driven decisions related to instruction and school attendance because Daniel Ralyea, a research specialist with the Office of Instruction and Accountability, uses SAS® Enterprise Intelligence Suite for Education to report and analyze data. A former math teacher, Ralyea is revolutionizing the use of data in Rock Hill to not just weather budget cuts, but identify students for advanced math, standardize teacher training, and look at information across student groups in a way that the state's own mandated student information system can't do.
"There is so much business function available in SAS," says Ralyea. "It's easy to use and saves a tremendous amount time. There are some things I couldn't do if I used spreadsheets or the state's student information system, PowerSchool."
From simple reports to complex analysis
According to Ralyea, "If you wanted to do any disaggregation of students, you had to look up each individual student folder, collect all the information, create a spreadsheet by hand, and then sort the students into groups. It was just a very, very cumbersome process."
This approach left no time to understand how to help struggling students or identify those who need advanced classes. But with SAS it takes only seconds. Now, all this information is fed directly into the district's SAS enterprise data warehouse. The data is then used to populate dashboards and scorecards for administrators and principals throughout the district. It is compatible with the state of South Carolina's student information system (SIS), from which Ralyea only had to create a one-time bridge to bring in an automated feed of new information each night.
It now takes Ralyea just a few seconds to disaggregate test scores, break student groups down by their needs, display information across different schools, compare different schools across the state and within the district, and more. With this time savings, Rock Hill has accomplished many things using SAS:
With the SAS solution, Rock Hill is also one of the few districts in compliance with South Carolina's state attendance policy mandating the school contact the family when a student misses a certain number of school days. Most districts rely on the state-mandated SIS, PowerSchool, which according to Ralyea "is not capable of identifying students' attendance patterns." So Rock Hill uses SAS to provide the information and reports necessary to remain in compliance.
Retraining teachers to better judge reading skills
Helping principals use data to drive decisions
Everything Rock Hill does now is guided by data, says Ralyea. "Our staff now asks, 'What is the effectiveness of that program?' It's the new norm."
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Rock Hill School District
Rock Hill needed to disaggregate student data to give principals and teachers easy access to information about classes, students and programs to ensure instructional dollars are used effectively.
Rock Hill is able to measure learning results and make informed decisions about curriculum and teaching practices.
“"There is so much business function available in SAS. It's easy to use and saves a tremendous amount of time."”
Research Specialist, Office of Instruction and Accountability