Partners in Education: Using Data as a Flashlight

By Christina De Giulio 3 years ago

Throughout our day, each of us receives, interprets, and utilizes data in making individual decisions – big and small, short- and long-term, personal and public. Thanks to technology, data is being collected in real-time and is accessible with a swipe of a screen at the speed of your network.  With the vast amount of data available comes the need to synthesize that data, filter the noise, and unveil the stories that lie beneath the numbers.  That’s where my work as a data analyst comes in.

My role at the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) and Learn4Life (L4L) is to promote and enable data-driven decision-making in the metro Atlanta region, a role that is enabled through partnership with Neighborhood Nexus , our regional community intelligence system.  My work entails a process of collecting, cleaning, analyzing, and presenting not only data, but the story the data is telling—to federal, state, regional, and local jurisdictions, non-profit and corporate partners, and our communities—in a platform that is easily understood and shared.  My mission is to empower our stakeholders, partners, and communities, to make informed decisions, develop comprehensive collaborative plans, and craft action steps for implementation that are grounded in, and whose success are measured by, data.

Before Learn4Life was a formal organization, the ARC recognized that the prosperity of our region is inextricably linked to the education of our children. The Research & Analytics Group at ARC, which staffs Neighborhood Nexus, has been actively cultivating relationships with, and supporting the work of, our regional education partners, not only through analysis and visualization of education data but also by providing greater regional context – examining relationships between education outcomes and the external factors that influence those outcomes: economics, demographics, maternal and children’s health, food security, housing affordability and student mobility, the built environment, etc.  My role as a data analyst is not policy-making; my role is to provide the source material from which sound policy decisions can be made to drive the systems change that collective impact strives toward.     

Data shapes the work of Learn4Life.  Data for our regional education systems provides an annual benchmark of our progress along six key community indicators: kindergarten readiness, third grade reading proficiency, eight grade math proficiency, high school graduation, post-secondary enrollment, and post-secondary completion. Data helps us explore the external factors influencing education outcomes and helps us identify our sphere of influence. Data highlights strategies that are positively impacting student outcomes throughout our region that we work to scale more broadly through support of selected Bright Spot organizations. Data shared by our Bright Spots provide context for our Change Action Network members to offer insight, make connections, and share resources to drive continuous improvement. 

Interact with Learn4Life’s metro Atlanta education data here       

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