Editorial: School data dashboards will improve CCPS's reputation for transparency

Rightly or wrongly, Carroll County Public Schools had developed a reputation in the community that it was untrustworthy, did not take public opinion into account and was not completely transparent. New Superintendent Steven Lockard is trying to rebuild public trust in the school system, and just a month into his tenure is rolling out an initiative to do exactly that.

At the most recent Board of Education work session, Lockard proposed implementing a “data dashboard,” to be used both internally and externally, to help track and monitor data — particularly those data points that tie into its next strategic plan, which is nearing completion.


The goal would be to make that data available to parents, community partners and the general public on-demand, both on-site at the individual schools as well as school-by-school data on their websites. While the data wouldn’t necessarily be “real time,” it would provide more accurate — and, perhaps more importantly, more accessible — information throughout the year as opposed to waiting for annual presentations at Board of Education meetings.

“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 told us. “Not in just a yearly update but in a way that’s ongoing and forward-facing to the community.”

This is a good first step under the new administration to address the public perception of the school system that it is not transparent. Much of this data that would be shared — ranging from PARCC testing scores to student achievement to disciplinary statistics — is not new information. Rather, it is a collection of items that CCPS has already been tracking internally. Advancements in technology make it far easier to share this kind of information than it would have been even just a few years ago, when it may have taken more time and people to make it accessible on a public scale.

Lockard was hopeful of having a mock-up of the dashboard by the October Board of Education meeting, after measures and performance targets for the strategic plan are discussed next month.

At the same meeting that Lockard introduced the data dashboard idea, he and the sitting Board of Education worked through a draft of the school system’s strategic plan for the next five years for the first time. The plan calls for equity; strong community relationships; and a safe, welcoming environment for CCPS. Board members seemed pleased with Lockard’s draft of the plan and expressed a desire to be nimble in its implementation, using it as a living document rather than something that is only updated as required.

Making data available to the public allows the Carroll County Public Schools community to hold Superintendent Lockard and the Board of Education accountable and help officials prioritize.

If transparency and accountability are indeed going to be hallmarks of the Lockard administration, then the new strategic plan and the implementation of data dashboards for every school are strong signs CCPS is trending in the right direction in that regard.