On-demand software tracks academic performance

As elementary and secondary school students continue their fall term, innovative school districts are looking at more than just day-to-day performance data to gauge student progress. Institutions such as the Columbus City School District use an on-demand business intelligence (BI) environment called Learning Circle(SM) to scrutinize years of quarterly assessment data through interactive reports and dashboards, helping educators manage, interpret, and communicate academic performance.

Nationwide Insurance developed the application in conjunction with Learning Circle Education Services, using Information Builders' BI and enterprise integration technology to gather the raw data, transform it into applicable information, and present it in a user-friendly format.

Learning Circle supports a strategic planning process that begins with an assessment of the current academic status of schools, classrooms, and students. It retrieves data from various achievement databases, analyzes it according to appropriate state and federal compliance standards, and presents it in reports that highlight trends within a school system, an individual school, or a particular grade level. The reports also provide insight into the type of assistance each school and student needs. Educators can make observations based on district, school, grade, classroom, and student performance; drill down into the data to see more details; and visually assess needs, deficiencies, and challenges using Learning Circle's interactive charts and graphs.

An evaluation by The Ohio State University shows the positive impact Learning Circle has had within the Columbus City School District, the largest public school district in Ohio. According to this study:

  • 93 percent of principals surveyed indicated that reports were easy to use and share with teachers and curriculum specialists
  • 90 percent of respondents could tie a specific improvement to Learning Circle and its absence would have a negative impact on their work
  • A positive correlation exists between a strong school improvement plan and advancement in student outcomes, specifically in the performance index

At Columbus City Schools, which has approximately 49,000 students in 118 schools and an operating budget of more than $1 billion, Learning Circle connects thousands of teachers and administrators to student assessment, attendance, and discipline data along with links to research-based instructional strategies. Formerly, educators had to look in multiple locations to assess aggregate student achievement or drill down by subject. Now they can compare end-of-year baselines to quarterly assessment results, with a couple of clicks, to measure and track progress throughout the year.

"We used to give our principals big stacks of notebooks," said Dr. Gene T. Harris, superintendent, Columbus City School District. "Now they can analyze this critical data themselves via interactive dashboards."