Georgia opens data on schools’ performance
- By Amanda Ziadeh
- Jul 11, 2016
In Georgia, a new website combines data from multiple sources to give each public elementary, middle and high school a performance report based on indicators of student success.
The Georgia Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (OSA) launched its School Reports website to improve transparency between government-citizen information sharing.
“The website began with the belief that parents and community members should be able to quickly and easily understand how their local schools are doing,” OSA’s Sam Rauschenberg, deputy director for research, policy and accountability, said in an email to GCN.
Based on indicators of student success, the open data website rates Georgia’s public schools with a single report card, assigning a simple A through F letter grade. The grades are based on the College and Career Ready Performance Index score, which factors in data from state test sores, student growth on the tests and graduation rates. The CCRPI score is then translated into a letter grade.
Along with a school’s individual grade, the site provides information about test scores, graduation rates, enrollment demographics and student performance on the Georgia Milestones Assessment tests. There is also an interactive tool that allows users to visually compare schools.
Prior to the website, citizens that wanted the full picture had to compare data from a number of sites, such as the Georgia Department of Education and OSA’s Report Card.
According to Rauschenberg, the site took about a year to assemble the data, build and test. The OSA wanted to make sure the site would be highly functional on all major desktop browsers and mobile devices. The information in School Reports also had to be easily converted into PDFs for printing.
OSA worked with GovDelivery on School Reports. According to Andrew Hoppin, president of GovDelivery’s Open Data Solutions, the site is hosted on Georgia’s own cloud infrastructure. Overall site security is managed by the state and its cloud-hosting vendor, and GovDelivery supports security of the software application itself.
To track the site’s usefulness, the OSA has been using Google Analytics to see what elements of the school reports are most beneficial to citizens. The office will also hold focus groups with parents and community members to get feedback to improve the interface and expand the range of available data.
The site also benefits the agency. OSA is commonly asked to provide performance comparisons among schools for state policymakers. The website allows the agency to generate concise visualizations comparing performance data, instead of having to compile and analyze individual reports.
Along with sustained web traffic, user surveys and anecdotal responses, “the most important measure of success will be whether parents and community members use the School Reports site as their primary ‘go-to’ for school performance outcomes,” Rauschenberg said.
Amanda Ziadeh is a Reporter/Producer for GCN.
Prior to joining 1105 Media, Ziadeh was a contributing journalist for USA Today Travel's Experience Food and Wine site. She's also held a communications assistant position with the University of Maryland Office of the Comptroller, and has reported for the American Journalism Review, Capitol File Magazine and DC Magazine.
Ziadeh is a graduate of the University of Maryland where her emphasis was multimedia journalism and French studies.
Click here for previous articles by Ms. Ziadeh or connect with her on Twitter: @aziadeh610.