Deeper student insights leave a deep impact

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For the Hamilton County, Tennessee Department of Education, the essence of educational intelligence is insight through granularity. And it’s one reason the county’s graduation rate has increased and standardized test scores are up too.

The department started down the educational intelligence. path a few years ago, when it began looking into why its students were consistently scoring below state benchmarks on standardized tests. Administrators didn’t get far before realizing they lacked the kind of detailed, granular data that would be necessary to understand the factors that contributed to the poor performance, much less act on the problem.

What little performance data Hamilton County had been receiving came from state scoring reports (as part of No Child Left Behind), which provided a lumpy, aggregate measure of whether the county’s 40,000 students were on track.

Implementing smart performance tracking technologies from Council member IBM, Hamilton County educators developed a performance modeling tool that extracts individual student data from the county’s 78 schools and uses it to create predictive profiles, which help to flag those students in need of proactive intervention by teachers or counselors. Using built-in algorithms, the model determines which factors are the strongest predictors of a student failing or dropping out.

Identifying those students labeled “fragile” or “off-track” is just the beginning of a process whose ultimate aim is the success of the student.