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A student completes an assignment, giving her teacher valuable data to enhance learning

Data interoperability: How Achievement First is breaking down barriers

Guest Author: Editor

As a data interoperability pioneer, Achievement First is adapting their student dashboards using the Ed-Fi technology suite so they refresh in real-time, eliminating the delay they experience getting the most up-to-date data. They plan to utilize a single set of learning standards, and tag curriculum and assessment results, that will allow educators to more easily find the right resources when student assessments indicate they are struggling to master a specific topic.

In this audio interview, you will hear from Breanna Porter at Achievement First on how their school is using data today, their definition of data interoperability and where they are in their data standard implementation journey.

Audio Interview: Breanna Porter


Breanna Porter: Achievement first is a district started in Connecticut and now we’re in New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. We have 36 different schools. We have elementary through high schools, and we take a very data-driven and open source approach to education. We like to be able to utilize the data that our students are producing—how they’re doing on assessments, how they’re doing on state tests —to improve our curriculum. Then we want to share those insights so that they don’t only affect our students, but they can affect and improve the education of students everywhere in America.

Data interoperability to me means a shared set of expectations around the data, both in sense of what it looks like and what it means. You can have data being the same shape and still have people using it in different ways. I think the biggest thing is the ownership of our data because right now it’s coming through different vendors and sometimes we’re not getting the full picture.

Especially as we’re trying to analyze that data and make as much meaning from it as we can to be able to help our students learn, it’s hard when you can’t see the full picture. I think Ed-Fi really allows us to get all of our data in one place so we can get that full picture.

Currently our largest challenge is scalability. We’re an expanding district, so we need our data infrastructure to take up less cost as it gets bigger per capita per unit. And right now it’s very difficult to add on more to it. Expanding our data infrastructure is very, very costly. So, having Ed-Fi there would greatly help alleviate that kind of difficulty we’re having.

I think for teachers the biggest thing is that they want to be able to learn from their students’ data and they want to be able to use that in real time to see how their instruction is affecting the students and what’s actually making a difference. Being able to deliver that to them is really important. So is trying to make sure that all the data that we’re gathering from students isn’t just helping our district and our students, but it’s helping everyone. Because everyone has stuff they can learn from any district, what they’re doing, and working for them or what isn’t. The more knowledge, the better.