How Washoe County is using data to provide student supports during closures

A previous Districts of Distinction honoree obtains contact information remotely from an in-house data warehouse to help students as COVID-19 persists
By: | May 8, 2020
A data warehouse is allowing Washoe County School District to make data-informed decisions, perform student wellness checks and provide other student supports during the coronavirus pandemic.gettyimages.com: lyaliren

During school closures, Washoe County School District administrators can quickly access an in-house data warehouse remotely to obtain student contact information and other crucial data if teachers need to perform student wellness checks or make data-informed decisions to provide student supports.

“This would have normally been an onerous process, but our data warehouse removes the administrative burden of gathering this information some other way,” says Ben Hayes, chief accountability officer of the Nevada district. “Over half of our students are on free or reduced lunch programs, so if a student hasn’t checked in for two weeks, we use this information to perform students wellness checks at their homes to make sure everyone is okay and fed, but, of course, we make sure to practice social distancing.”


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The district has currently made 1,000 in-home student wellness checks since school closures began in mid-March.

In addition to emergency contacts, administrators can see what assignments students had been working on before the closures and if they require any other student supports when logging into the so-called Business Intelligence Gateway system, or BIG, which District Administration’s Districts of Distinction program honored in 2016.

Making data-informed decisions

Originally, BIG only provided data that administrators used to help increase graduation rates, but in-house programmers recently added a college and career readiness component to promote additional data-informed decision-making. “We can now see who is enrolling in certain courses, and our counselors have made it their goal to ensure equitable access to advanced and CTE programs,” says Hayes.

Also, the district created dashboards that monitor whether students are on track to meeting state-mandated reading proficiency standards and that identify chronic absenteeism, which has decreased by 2% every year since 2017. “We can readily access this data to see whether we need to get an intervention in place quickly to ensure success,” says Hayes.

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