State education departments collect formless oceans of data. But they rarely make that data available to school districts in a timely way or in a form that supports decision-making.
In New York State, for example, last year’s graduation rates were published at about the same time that this year’s grads walked across the stage. And the data are locked up in aging technologies such as PDF or in poorly structured and complex spreadsheets and databases that are absolutely useless to virtually all school superintendents, principals and staff.
State education departments cling anachronistically to an obsolete belief that educational data is for reporting, accountability and research purposes only, so they continue to publish it in formats that only bureaucrats and researchers are comfortable with.
Critical information at a leader’s fingertips
This is not right. School districts — and their kids — deserve better. They need live data feeds and slick apps that give them the information they need to make the best possible decisions for their students, staff and taxpayers.
We want school leaders to sleep more soundly at night, knowing they will wake up each day with the critical information they need to run their school districts well. We put that information literally at their finger tips on their iPad®, iPhone® or Android device.
Powerful apps delivered in a matter of weeks
In the last year, Prism has introduced three web and mobile apps with agility and user acclaim. Each app solves a single, burning issue. Each was delivered quickly, at low cost and with stunning simplicity:
- SchoolBenchmarker™: We used five publicly available New York State Education Department databases and did what the department appears unable to do: we designed, developed and deployed a live web/data service and decision-making app — all in 21 days. For any school, the app helps to answer two key questions: (a)What schools that are similar to us are outperforming us and by how much? (b)What are they doing to achieve that best-in-class performance?
- Budget Playground™: We built the live data service — from 16 years of comptroller spreadsheets — and the app in 35 days. The app helps to answer two critical questions in the era of the New York State property tax cap: (a) When is our district forecasted to be insolvent? (b) What options do we have to remain solvent?
- CohortTracker™: We designed and delivered the app in about 3 months time. The app solves this burning need: year to year, month to month and day to day, districts do not know the status of active cohorts — and of every sub-group and individual within those cohorts — vis-a-vis high school graduation.
Our innovative approach to app development
Prism advocates for a sea change in the use of educational data to support decision-making:
Agile web and mobile apps are the future of data-driven decision-making in education.
Transform the use of state education data so that it is used to support decision-making.
Method: agile development
Use a development cycle that follows these principles:
- Rapidly deliver low-cost, simple, useful and sustainable software that is frequently updated to incorporate user feedback.
- Develop web and mobile apps that are lightweight, solve a single, urgent problem, and are not burdened by unnecessary features or complexity.
Strategy: app swarm
- Ensure that immediate decision-making requirements drive innovation.
- Design specific solutions that act strategically as building blocks for a comprehensive, end-to-end decision support solution.
- Build complete but very specific solutions to well-defined, immediate problems.
- Keep things as open as possible — for example, allow apps to use a common web-service and talk to each other.
- Deliver immediate, high-value functionality at low risk and low cost.
What keeps you up at night?
Do you hold a leadership position in an educational institution? What are your burning needs? What keeps you up at night? Email us. We just might develop an agile app for you — and deliver it more quickly than you ever imagined possible.