Empower K-12 COVID resilience with analytics
The COVID-19 pandemic disturbed nearly every aspect of modern life, and the U.S. education system was particularly hard-hit. When schools across the country were forced to close their doors, K-12 students, educators, and administrators faced serious remote learning challenges due to access, funding, technology and engagement.
Last year, many students and teachers didn’t have access to the resources needed to make at-home learning successful, and while some districts were able to provide emergency funding to support them, it’s clear that major learning loss occurred. Per McKinsey & Associates, K-12 students are substantially behind in mathematics and reading, compared to grade-level peers from the year before. Students need help, and these disparities must be accounted for in the coming school year.
Now is the time for administrators to plan for this reckoning. But in order to determine how to address the pandemic’s impact on education, we have to look at the data — by school district, by school, and by student.
Identifying the impact of COVID
Counties across the country spent a great deal of money last year in an attempt to support their students as they shifted to distanced learning, but students are still being left behind. How do we use data to identify how bad the issue really is?
Tracking student performance – We know that students are behind compared to years past, but some students who didn’t have access to the technology required to learn from home fell off schools’ radars, losing a full year of progress. In fact, research from Bellwether Education Partners estimates that approximately 3 million of the “most educationally marginalized students in the country” may have been missing from school since March 2020.
In order to identify these students and prevent further learning loss, it’s critical for schools to identify trends in their student information, attendance, and special needs’ systems in order to predict potential at-risk students.
Tracking financial gaps – For public K-12 school systems, the federal government provides a predetermined amount of funding for each pupil based on a school’s performance. However, as a result of the learning loss resulting from the pandemic, this funding and the resources it affords will not look the same.
K-12 administrators are tasked with identifying the correlation between performance and financial impact—in short, to find the gaps and determine how to best fill them. The only way to do that is to bring all of the relevant data together – attendance, performance, financials, budgets, special needs – so that it can be comprehensively analyzed to connect the dots on gaps, challenges and opportunities. By leveraging the right data and using analytics to gather insights, administrators can quickly identify the students that aren’t meeting minimum standards for advancement, and as a result, determine how their future budgets may be impacted.
Combatting COVID spread and building resilience for the future:
As schools re-opened their doors to students this spring, it was imperative they did so in a way that kept the safety of their students and staff top of mind. Safety measures were put in place, but administrators acknowledged that, regardless, COVID spread could still occur, either inside their school or beyond its walls.
To prevent the spread, schools leveraged data analytics tools to help identify and track cases within their students and staff. Once a case was identified, administrators could notify parents, classmates, and teachers of their risk of exposure and request they quarantine before returning to in-person classrooms.
Now, as vaccines become available to younger children, school systems can use data analytics to track vaccines within the individual schools but also outside of the classroom and into the community.
While vaccines will help mitigate the virus and its spread within K-12, the pandemic and its direct impact will never truly go away. It’s up to administrators to use data to identify gaps and areas of improvement for their school systems—both within the education they provide their students and in the budgets they use to afford that education.
Lewis Perry is field sales director at Qlik.
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