​Less Digging, More Acting With Schoolzilla’s New Data Dashboard

​Less Digging, More Acting With Schoolzilla’s New Data Dashboard

By Sydney Johnson     Jan 31, 2017

​Less Digging, More Acting With Schoolzilla’s New Data Dashboard

Dealing with school data can be a beast. But Schoolzilla, an edtech company that aggregates and helps analyze student and district information, is trying to change that—and make large gigabytes of data a little bit easier to digest in the process. Today, the company released a new dashboard tool called Mosaic District Progress Monitoring to help school leaders curate and track district performance indicators and help guide the decision-making process.

“Everyone in a school system needs real-time data on key metrics of success so they know what’s working,” the company announcement reads. “Mosaic is an at-a-glance view of all your key data points that immediately tells you where you're on track and where you need to focus.”

Based in Oakland, Calif., Schoolzilla works with districts to consolidate information such as attendance records, benchmark results, Measures of Academic Progress assessments and more. In addition to collecting data, Mosaic now gives districts the ability to see the information they are pulling via graphs, charts and other visualizations.

“Schoolzilla automates the data process,” says Valerie Schreiner, Schoolzilla’s chief product officer. “This solution is about the new performance view on top of that.”

What that means is that administrators can slice and analyze district data in a variety of ways, sorting results by subgroups such as gender, race and look for areas in need of focus. Zoom in a bit more and principals can view how their schools in particular are performing. Teachers can also use the tool to drill down at the student level and track items like individual attendance, behavior and subject proficiencies. And because Schoolzilla updates district data daily, anyone on the platform can pull visualizations produced on the platform and share insights at events like school board meetings or parent-teacher conferences.

The new platform is a direct answer to issues the company has witnessed since 2013, when Schoolzilla spun off as an independent company from the Oakland charter school network where it originated.

“What we found as we’ve been working with more districts is they don't always have the data staff to figure out what kind of reports they need or what insights they want to glean,” says Schreiner. “So we set about building a simpler, more performance-based tool that districts can use to align around their goals and monitor progress.”

She specifically attributes Mosaic’s genesis to the company's work with St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS) in Missouri. In October 2015, nearly eight years after the district lost its accreditation due to poor student achievement performance and budget deficiencies, SLPS sought to get it back. With much at stake, SLPS superintendent Dr. Kelvin Adams released a formal RFP in the hopes of finding a tool that could to help the district bring together all of the data it was collecting to get its students and schools up to speed.

Schoolzilla answered the call, and in the last 18 months has worked with SLPS to define its needs by collecting data and building performance reports like student and school profiles. The company also began using data visualization platforms like Tableau to help school leaders see the information they were gleaning. Schreiner says through working with SLPS, which gained full accreditation this month, her team began noticing other schools that wanted the same sorts of insights and visualizations. That’s when the company began thinking about Mosaic.

“Based on what we had developed while working in St. Louis…we wanted to build a set of standardized reports on the web that could meet needs but was more scalable, and then roll it out to a larger number of users,” Schreiner recalls.

In addition to working with SLPS, Schoolzilla has in the last several months been beta testing its dashboard with three other districts around the country: Alameda Unified School District (Calif.), Novato Unified School District (Calif.) and Lawrence Public Schools (Mass.). But there’s plenty more testing ahead, Schreiner says, and District Progress Monitoring is just the first set of report dashboards Mosaic has planned to roll out. Already underway is a “financially-focused” dashboard to help districts track spending—an effort made possible by the company’s acquisition of Decision Science Labs last October.

Mosaic requires a one-time implementation cost to connect and implement the tool with a district’s existing data systems, in addition to an annual subscription fee that usually ranges from $3 to $6 per student.

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