New superintendent Steven Lockard looks to increase transparency, better track data through 'dashboard'

Emily Chappell
Contact ReporterCarroll County Times

In an effort to increase transparency, rebuild community trust and align with the soon-to-be-completed strategic plan, Carroll County Public Schools is looking to implement a “data dashboard.”

The concept, unveiled at the last Board of Education work session by new Superintendent Steven Lockard, would be used both internally and externally. Internally, it will help CCPS track and monitor data, and help tie that information to the strategic plan.

Externally, the information would be available — likely digitally as well as on-site at individual schools — for parents, the general public and community partners to access. And it will go beyond looking just at the system as a whole, and instead will be broken down based on each school.

The focus of the dashboard will be items the BOE has already said should be prioritized — like student achievement, discipline numbers and more.

“We’re going to be setting goals here and we need to be able to monitor and evaluate our performance,” Lockard said in an interview Friday.

There is other information, though, that will be rolled in as it becomes available, said Greg Bricca, director of research and accountability for CCPS. Examples would include data from the most recent Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, exams, and climate surveys from the state.

“The idea of utilizing data is certainly nothing new,” Lockard said.

Data can help the system make good decisions based on the needs that are shown through that information, he said. It will help CCPS prioritize.

“It gives us the right information needed,” Lockard said, “to determine our success.”

Lockard emphasized the role the dashboard will play in terms of tracking data pertinent to the strategic plan, which the board has been working on for more than a year. The BOE saw a draft of the plan, which will replace Vision 2018, at the Wednesday work session.

The new plan will cover 2018-2023, and describes building the learner, community, workforce and environment. The first pillar is to provide multiple pathway opportunities for student success; the second pillar is to strengthen productive family and community partnerships; the third pillar is to develop and support a successful workforce; and the fourth pillar is to establish safe, secure, healthy and modern learning environments.

The school board has spent months coming up with areas of focus and ways to measure goals as a part of the plan. Lockard said while CCPS has been tracking a lot of data for a long time internally, it hasn’t necessarily been compiled together in a way that is this easily accessible.

Bricca said the evolution of technology has allowed for something like a data dashboard to be used by CCPS. Years ago, such a product would have required greater levels of resources to develop and manage. Now, he said, even a lean organization like CCPS can make use of it.

“It’s a little more plug-and-play than it used to be,” Lockard said.

Lockard said the goal is to come back to the Board of Education in September with measures and performance targets for the strategic plan, and come with a mock-up of the dashboard in October.

He acknowledged it’s an “aggressive” timeline, but said staff is already moving forward.

Bricca said something that really differs in the creation of this strategic plan compared to the last is the importance of transparency and communication working through it.

“We need to have both this outward facing presentation … but also some consistency within our schools,” Bricca said of the dashboard.

Lockard said he hopes this type of initiative can help rebuild trust in the community. Trust has been an issue with the school system and community in recent years, with a school closure process that some felt was rushed and did not take into account public opinion.

“I think this is a way to signal to the community that not only are we interested in what they have to say … but also to continue to be transparent in a way that we put our data and our results and our progress out there,” Lockard said. “Not in just a yearly update but in a way that’s ongoing and forward-facing to the community.”

emily.chappell@carrollcountytimes.com

410-857-7862

twitter.com/EmilyChappell13

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