District Profile: Lincoln Public Schools
Seven districts ranging in various sizes and locality participated in the project, including Nebraska’s Lincoln Public Schools. This profile outlines Lincoln’s leaders are using data to inform decisions and spark new conversations and collaborations with their educational community.
How Lincoln Public Schools Leaders Used Data to Inform Their Decisions
IDENTIFYING THE PAID TOOLS USED BY STUDENTS IN SPECIFIC COURSES
The Lincoln Public School (LPS) leadership team had a very specific objective at the beginning of the Digital Promise and Catchon program: To gain visibility into the paid tools being used by students in specific courses to assess the district’s return on investment regarding those paid tools and determine if the district is at the right level of licensing.
To achieve this objective, Kristi Peters, Lincoln’s EdTech & Training Coordinator, worked with the CatchOn team to create dashboards that showed engagement at the student level for individual courses per school. This enabled the Lincoln team to compare application usage analytics to make informed decisions regarding some of their paid EdTech tools.
Although LPS began their data analytics journey with one defined objective in mind, seeing their actionable data has opened the door to a new realm of possibilities for the district. “As we increase literacy around how we can merge these data stories we are seeing, we will get a lot of growth across the entire curriculum department,” said Peters. “I’m so happy to see the very specific questions our curriculum team has been asking regarding the analytics, which I think has helped us uncover what they are after. It is not surprising that the monetary piece is what initially draws people to data analytics, but once you dive into the data, there are a lot of components and possibilities that make you want to better understand the tech tool story that aligns with a specific course or an age group of students. I think we will continue to mature in how we use CatchOn.”
Key Insights and Next Steps
IDENTIFYING PERSONALIZED LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
Moving forward, the LPS team plans to start using their actionable data to identify and categorize digital tools based on their effectiveness for certain subgroups of students. Rather than having every student use the same set of digital tools and applications, the district wants to further personalize each student’s learning experience by giving them access to the specific tools that are the most effective for them.
TRACKING STUDENT ENGAGEMENT
The LPS team is also interested in monitoring when students are engaging with their digital platforms and identifying which tools they are using during specific windows of time. “The time of day of usage tells a really important story about how students are engaged outside the classroom,” said Peters. “The information you can uncover about that is really compelling.”
ASSESSING RETURN ON INSTRUCTION
Although LPS began the program primarily focused on assessing the fiscal accountability of their digital tools, the district’s team expanded their scope to identifying and evaluating each tool’s return on instructional investment as well. “You cannot put a price on time, so we need to have a better understanding of what our instructional investment is with a program or platform and have a means of determining if it is paying dividends,” said Kirk Langer, Lincoln’s Chief Technology Officer. “What we are spending financially on the tool is not particularly relevant if it is not producing. The really critical part is assessing our return on instructional investment. A tool may be getting highly used, but if we are not getting anything out of it, we need to know that.”