In 2006, Chicago Public Schools received significant funding from the Wallace Foundation to develop a data system that would help the District and its contracted nonprofit agencies coordinate out-of-school-time programming for over 100,000 students across 600 schools. The proposed system would serve as the cornerstone of a citywide effort (including libraries, parks and city departments) to track and evaluate expanded learning opportunities for youth.
But the obstacles were daunting. Existing data collection depended on manually collated spreadsheets and the District’s student information system could not be adapted to accommodate multiple out-of-school-time program designs. Further, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act prevented sharing of certain student data with non-district staff, requiring the construction of an alternative system for nonprofit agencies.
Solution: Cityspan creates an online platform for data integration and accountability
Through deep collaboration with CPS and its nonprofit partners, Cityspan created a cloud-based application capable of addressing the districts’ core challenges:
Efficient data sharing and collection
By virtue of the complex relationships among CPS and the nonprofit providers, the system had to enable appropriate use of academic data without violating federal privacy law. Through integration with the CPS school day information system, Cityspan created role based permissions for sharing student records. Out-of-school-time providers for the first time gained real-time access to student data, greatly reducing their data collection burden while enabling them to use academic information to guide both program decisions and student level interventions.
Comprehensive Program Tracking
Capturing the breadth of CPS out-of-school-time programming meant expanding the system’s core features to include workflows that could support more than 15 unique OST program designs and 10 funding sources. Larger partners included the Community Schools Initiative, After School All Stars, Federal Title I programs, Attendance and Truancy Initiative, Teen Pregnancy Initiative and the Chicago Debate League. In order to support varying combinations of programs within schools, Cityspan developed integrations that further minimized data entry while ensuring that program specific reports complied with complex funding requirements.
Results: Simplified management and documentation of complex relationships
On the ground, the Cityspan system streamlines data collection and reduces the amount of time it takes to track, monitor and account for student progress. But on a higher level, the system enables superior management, helping CPS and its partners, such as the Chicago Housing Authority and the Department of Family and Support Services, ensure a just distribution of services across age groups, ethnicity, and geographical areas, and an efficient targeting of resources to programs where they have the greatest impact.
Cityspan impact at a glance:
- Centralized tracking of OST and school day enrichment programs for more than 100,000 students in 600 schools
- Standardized citywide activity definitions – typology covering perse youth programs
- Streamlined and more accurate data capture and management
- Greater transparency and accountability
- More efficient management of multiple programs by CPS and provider agencies
- Dramatically reduced time required for teachers to assess student performance within programs
- Improved compliance with federal and state reporting requirements
Tracked and managed programs include:
- Academic Decathlon
- After-School All-Stars
- All-City Performing Arts
- Attendance and Truancy Initiative
- Co-ed Chess
- Chicago Debate League
- Community Schools Initiative
- English Language (EL) After School Tutoring
- Middle School Debate
- Science Fair and Olympiad
- Spelling Bee
- Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative
- Title 1
- You Be The Chemist