Customer Success Story — Desert Sands Unified School District, Coachella Valley, CA
Desert Sands Unified School District, located in California’s Coachella Valley, is a 1:1 district that serves 27,000 students. Not only is that a great many devices to manage, but district leaders must also track and monitor the tremendous number of applications and online resources used on those devices.
That’s why in 2019 DSUSD deployed CatchOn, an expansive data analytics tool that provides administrative leaders a window into the efficacy of their technology investments and integrations. The actionable data delivered by the solution has enabled DSUSD to make improvements in three key areas: fiscal accountability, student data privacy, and student achievement.
Thanks to CatchOn's student-level data and easy-to-use, customizable dashboards, the district was able to achieve measurable results in three key areas: fiscal accountability, student data privacy, and student achievement.
1) Fiscal Accountability
Dr. May-Vollmar is also leveraging CatchOn to more effectively invest in the district’s educational technology. By gaining insight into her students’ application usage, she can now track who is actually using which apps and determine the apps that teachers actually need. “Sometimes we may think we’re only paying a dollar a license,” she said, “but if hardly anyone is using the app that rate might effectively go up to fifteen dollars a license. That’s something we need to know when we’re determining how to invest our resources.”
CatchOn also gives her the data she needs to analyze each app’s performance. “We buy apps because we really believe they’re going to improve student outcomes,” she said. “If that’s not happening we want to know why because we don’t want to waste money. CatchOn gives us visibility into real results.”
Relatedly, the solution helps her deal with the inevitable proliferation of apps throughout the district. “When a district gets a new app to fill a need,” Dr. May-Vollmar explained, “sometimes they don’t get rid of the old one but instead just add on. CatchOn helps us determine which apps give the best return on investment and which ones need to be eliminated.”
2) Student Data Privacy
“We initially chose CatchOn because of our data privacy concerns,” explained Dr. Kelly May-Vollmar, DSUSD’s Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services. Upon deploying the tool on all the district’s devices, her initial findings were alarming: in just a few minutes, she had identified several apps in use that violated the district’s privacy policies.
But her new solution also helped her shore up the district’s security. “The tool is incredibly valuable to us because it empowers us to ensure that we are only using and working with vendors that have the same data privacy standards we have for our students’ information,” said Dr. May-Vollmar. “That has helped us make a safer environment for our whole community.”
“The tool is incredibly valuable to us because it empowers us to ensure that we are only using and working with vendors that have the same data privacy standards as we do for our students’ information. That has helped us make a safer environment for our whole community.”
—Dr. Kelly May-Vollmar, DSUSD’s Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services
3) Student Achievement
When the pandemic disrupted in-person classes for DSUSD, the district needed to find a new way to track student engagement. “CatchOn helped us move to remote learning,” said Dr. May-Vollmar, because the tool allowed her to answer three essential questions: “How much time are students spending on their devices? What are they doing on their devices? What apps are they spending time on? That’s how you measure engagement, and CatchOn empowers us to do that.”
Additionally, the versatile tool helps the district ensure students are using their devices productively by giving educators real-time visibility into each student’s performance. “We’re getting better outcomes for our students because we’re monitoring performance along the way,” Dr. May-Vollmar said. “We’re not waiting until the annual state testing to find out how a student is doing; instead, CatchOn lets us monitor daily, weekly, monthly, whatever we want to do.”
Leveraging CatchOn to create DSUSD’s data story has given the district’s leadership team the insight required to improve learning outcomes, better safeguard student data, and assess the ROI of their apps and online resources.