Decision Center for Educational Excellence Unveils New Data Tool

Author: Helios Education Foundation

Posted on: June 7, 2019

The Decision Center for Educational Excellence Powered by Helios Education Foundation, recently unveiled a new interactive tool that presents data on high school graduation rates and college-going rates throughout the state of Arizona.  The purpose of the tool is to help inform community discussions and action plans about how to improve student outcomes throughout the state.  The first phase of the tool focuses on high-school graduation and college-going rates.  The next step will be to investigate factors which lead to low academic achievement, and how to scale positive outcomes to struggling schools.  In addition, the tool will focus on key data to identify ways to strengthen our state’s workforce in both rural and urban communities.    

The tool draws on 2016 data – the first data publicly available – from a variety of sources, including the Arizona Department of Education, the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Center for Educational Statistics, the FBI, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights and individual Arizona schools.  The data includes information such as poverty rates, levels of education, key industries, environmental factors and more for both urban and rural areas in Arizona.  

One of the key findings of this initial data analysis is the fact that poverty does not determine graduation rates, but it does impact academic achievement.  Contrary to common belief, no correlation was found between poverty levels and high school graduation rates.  The data shows that graduation rates remained relatively the same between high poverty and low poverty schools.  However, many high-poverty schools have fewer students who are college and career ready and fewer who attend college.  The data did identify some high poverty schools who have high graduation rates and high college-going rates so we want to learn more about what they are doing and how we can learn from their success.

“There are over 220 school districts in the state.  There are over 500 charter schools in the state.  Each of those systems and each of those schools are unique,” said Vince Roig, Founding Chairman of Helios Education Foundation at the public unveiling of the tool.  “One of the powerful things about this work is you’ll be able to look at possible interventions, possible allocation of resources, for all of those different systems in a way that’s not cookie cutter, that’s not overly prescribed.  We’ve never been able to do that before.”

The Decision Center for Educational Excellence is a partnership between Arizona State University and Helios Education Foundation.  The goal is to provide school administrators, policymakers, community leaders, and elected officials with the tools and information needed to pinpoint bright spots in the state’s education system and identify interventions that could serve to improve student performance.  It will also offer Arizona’s education influencers – from school leaders to policymakers – the tools needed to make informed, data-driven decisions that support a high-quality education for all Arizona students.  

“We hope that schools and communities can use this data and learn from one another,” said Vince Yanez, Senior Vice President, Arizona Community Engagement, Helios Education Foundation.  “There are lessons to be learned from this data.”

Joe O’Reilly, Director of the Decision Center for Educational Excellence, will be traveling the state to present this data tool to communities and to facilitate conversations about how to use the data to improve college-going rates in local communities.  Eventually, the tool will be available online for broader access.

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