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Indiana’s Data Dashboard Tracks Post-Pandemic Student Success

Launched last year to track student success after high school, the Indiana Department of Education’s new “Graduates Prepared to Succeed” online dashboard aims to make districts more accountable to state benchmarks.

Illustration of a laptop computer with multiple screens of statstics and charts popping out
The Indiana Department of Education is aiming to increase public transparency with student performance data to show parents and educators where schools are at today — as well as where they need to be — amid schools’ efforts to combat learning loss in subjects like math and literacy during the pandemic.

To help stakeholders track and make sense of student performance data, the department recently announced updates to its Indiana Graduates Prepared to Succeed Dashboard (Indiana GPS), an online resource launched late last year showing key indicators of student success following high school graduation, such as academic mastery, career and postsecondary readiness, communication and collaboration skills, work ethic, and civic, financial and digital literacy. It also shows specific school and district performance stacked against state benchmarks. Its launch comes with ongoing state efforts focused on individualizing graduation requirements as well as improving K-12 literacy and math comprehension, two areas of learning loss in many schools.

Indiana Secretary of Education Katie Jenner said in a public statement that the goal of the data is to illustrate connections between skills students develop in K-12 and post-graduation outcomes.

Curt Merlau, director of education practice at the tech consulting firm Resultant, said the dashboard is the latest public-facing online resource developed through a partnership between Resultant and the department to increase K-12 performance data transparency. It follows the release last year of another online dashboard that shows how Indiana schools are using K-12 COVID-19 relief funds.

“There are a total of 17 indicators, and from the summary page, users can go down to the school or the school district level to see how that district or individual school is performing at the relative or the relevant indicators. From there, the user can go one step further and see trend analyses for every indicator, and they can then filter by student population group,” Merlau explained. “It really gives the user never-before-seen data, or data that they’ve maybe seen but haven’t sliced and diced in this way before.”

According to Bobby Grimm, Resultant’s engagement manager, the “Graduates Prepared to Succeed” data also follows Indiana’s House Enrolled Act 1514, passed in 2021 to direct state officials to develop a performance dashboard that shows longitudinal student performance data sets. Similar to the rollout of the dashboard for relief fund spending, he noted, school leaders had early access to the student performance dashboard and shared their feedback on how to make it more intuitive.

“The whole point of it is that there’s more to determining or identifying how successful our kids are going to be beyond just how they perform on test scores,” he said. “We saw an opportunity to kind of re-envision how to strategically [measure] school performance and student learning and be able to display it. ... As we all know, if you’ve got tons and tons of data, it’s only useful to you if you can analyze it, so the site compiles a lot of different data sources together, and puts it into a visually digestible format.”

So far, school districts such as Penn-Harris-Madison Schools have used the tool to note areas where students need more support. According to a news release, that district noted that more than 97 percent of its students now complete graduation requirements from the state, indicating they’ve surpassed the state’s 95 percent goal. Currently, the release said, a little over 86 percent of students statewide complete their graduation requirements. However, like other districts, more work is needed in areas such as in math, where the Penn-Harris-Madison district reports just under 42 percent of students meeting their individual math goals. The state’s target is to have 45.8 percent of students meeting those goals by 2030.

    Jenner said in the news release that the state will update the dashboard to better reflect progress in K-12 districts moving forward, adding that stakeholder feedback will continue to play a critical role in future changes.

    “When we first began developing Indiana GPS, one of the consistent pieces of feedback that we heard across education stakeholders, including policymakers, educators and families, was the importance of being able to quickly locate longitudinal and disaggregated student population data,” Jenner said in a public statement. “Having this information available at the click of a button provides a comprehensive look at where we have been in recent years, where we are today, and where we need to go, thus informing our future work at the school, community and state levels.”

    Editor's note: A previous version of this story misidentified Kate Jaramillo, who communicated on behalf of the Indiana Department of Education, as a spokeswoman for the department.
    Brandon Paykamian is a staff writer for Government Technology. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from East Tennessee State University and years of experience as a multimedia reporter, mainly focusing on public education and higher ed.