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Success Stories

25
AUG
2010

Pasadena Independent School District, Texas

THE DROPOUT PROBLEM:

Some 50  miles off the Gulf  of Mexico, Pasadena Independent School  District  (ISD) was facing  its share of a national crisis. Administrators at this large, urban  district were troubled by what seemed to be a high  dropout rate and an alarmingly low graduation rate. However, due to a lack of timely  access to detailed data, it was difficult to understand the problem and to organize a solution. For instance, district  staff had to wait over a year before they received  a state-provided list of dropouts and graduation rates from  the previous year- hardly  a turnaround time that enabled action  to support those students. Facing this reality, administrators at Pasadena ISD decided that they needed  much  greater in-house capacity  to track students, find  out who was dropping out and  why, so they could act to do something about  it.

 GETTING A HANDLE  ON THE DATA

Managing data on over 50,000 students was no easy task. “Our  biggest roadblock was time,” said Donna  Summers, Pasadena ISD’s Director of Research and  Evaluation, during  a webinar co-hosted by Microsoft and Mizuni. “The time to [manually] pull data  together, to aggregate it, to disaggregate what we had  just aggregated, to summarize for non-standard students, and to generate  tables and  graphs  that made the data understandable and visual for folks.” In need of a better way to manage and  leverage  the data, Pasadena ISD turned to Mizuni for help.

 REPORTS FUEL IMMEDIATE INTERVENTION

Mizuni worked  with the district to develop a number of flexible,  real-time reports, a set of which  were designed to support  the dropout reduction effort.  “What these reports  did for us was completely automate the leaver  tracking process, so we are now spending time on the interventions and not on the identifications….We’re now working with today’s information about  today’s students,” said Mrs.  Summers. One  of the new reports  revealed  that a third  of the recent dropouts had  left school  after failing to pass all three required portions  of the state test. Equipped with this new insight, the district’s high  schools  immediately mobilized to reach  out to these kids. To help them  pass the test and  get back  in the pipeline to graduation, college, and  workforce readiness, the district offered  a range  of intervention services including tutoring and mentorships, one-on-one  counseling, before  and after-school programs, and summer  learning opportunities.

 FROM RECOVERY TO  PREVENTION

As the district’s efforts advanced, Pasadena ISD worked  with Mizuni to develop greater functionality, expanding beyond  dropout recovery to a more  proactive focus on dropout prevention. From a vast, sometimes  overwhelming collection of data, the district narrowed its focus to five research-based early warning dropout indicators (course grades, attendance, behavior, state assessments, and college readiness).  With its data  integrated, consolidated, and delivered through the Mizuni District Solution, the Pasadena ISD was now able  to predict  in real time which  currently enrolled students were showing  the warning signs associated with dropping out. Teachers are now using the data  to collaborate around data  on grade  levels, subjects, and  individual students. Counselors use the reports to inform  one-on-one  conversations with students and to help determine the right  intervention strategy for each.  And the district offers a range  of alternative programs such as extended-day scheduling, evening  and night  classes, and various  remediation programs in major subjects to meet each student’s specific  needs

JUST GETTING STARTED

After years of hard  work using  powerful tools, Pasadena ISD has steadily decreased  its dropout rate. Since the beginning of the 2007-2008 school  year, the district  decreased  its grades  7-12 annual dropout rate from  4.5% to 3.1 %. And from  2007 to 2009, Pasadena ISD increased its completion rate by 5%.  Still, district  staff is determined to do even better. The district’ s flexible  data  warehouse and reports continue to grow  as new data  items and analyses are added  to meet evolving  needs including evaluation of its many dropout intervention programs. And the district continues  to expand  data  access and develop skills among administrators and teachers  on the interpretation and effective use of data to help each student achieve  his or her personal best. “Ultimately,”  says Donna Summers, “the tools will allow  us to individualize instruction for every one of our 51 ,000 students.” No  small feat, but one that is now within  reach  thanks to the district’s dedication to student success and effective  use of smart technology.

District Statistics
  • Greater Houston area
  •  5 high schools, 10 intermediate/middle schools
  •  Student population:  51,000 students, 20% mobile, 75% economically disadvantaged, 29% Limited English Proficient, 57% “at-risk” (based on Texas indicators formula)