In the early 2000s, New York City’s Department of Education (DOE) won a competitive State contract to become the Technical Assistance Center (TAC) for the city’s federally funded 21st Century Community Learning Centers.
Obtaining the contract would enable the NYC DOE to administer after school programs, through cooperation with nearly 60 nonprofit agencies, in approximately 320 schools. But executing its responsibilities demanded a data collection and management platform that would have to juggle numerous complexities: the platform had to simultaneously aggregate data for the Annual Performance Report required by the federal government, and create distinct, separate reports to track individual school and nonprofit agency performance. Activities had to be accurately linked to the responsible agencies, and progress reports made available to each of them, without compromising data integrity or confidentiality.
Solution: Flexible data platform meets evolving needs efficiently
Cityspan worked with the DOE to arrive at a data management solution that had the special capabilities necessary to manage multiple input streams and diverse output options:
Integrate with school day data
By virtue of the complex relationships among the school district and the agencies, the system had to allow appropriate use of academic data without violating student privacy. Cityspan developed user roles that gave district and nonprofit staff the access to student data they needed to fulfill their respective missions.
Comply with federal reporting requirements
Through careful design, the resulting solution allows the DOE to combine student demographics, state assessment results and after school attendance data to meet federal requirements for demonstrating program efficacy. The system’s outputs mirror the format requirements of the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant, streamlining reporting and reducing costly manual effort.
Monitor weekly performance
The platform went beyond retrospective reporting for evaluation. To effect near real-time performance monitoring, the system creates summaries automatically compiled and distributed to program managers each week.
Adapt to changing demands
As the TAC evolved, the data platform evolved with it. To encourage efficiency, the DOE consolidated the number of afterschool sites from >350 to >250, and Cityspan adjusted the assignment of agencies to school sites accordingly. When schools acquired on-site staff who could collect data, Cityspan adjusted the collection process, moving it from the individual agencies to a centralized procedure within the DOE.
Success has led to expanded programming and partnerships: Cityspan adapted the platform to accommodate the NYC DOE’s Students in Temporary Housing program that supports homeless students in 15 shelters citywide, and is prepared to take on a new set of programs that address violence prevention.
Results: Accelerated fed compliance reporting, reduced data collection burden
The Cityspan platform delivers speed and efficiency. By replacing time-consuming paper-based systems with a centralized, digital system on the cloud, the DOE is able to monitor each school’s performance, and identify underperforming programs, with greater accuracy and in less time, helping it secure the ongoing support and funding it needs to succeed.
Benefits at a glance:
- Centralized monitoring across 250 schools
- Centralized and up-to-date repository of key student data
- Automated report generation to meet federal compliance requirements
- Accurate and up-to-date data on student demographics and test scores
- Dramatically reduced time to generate reports
- Greater transparency and accountability
- Continued strong funding for and success at obtaining subsequent grants/cohorts
“Cityspan’s system is extremely reliable and the team has a strong understanding of all federal reporting requirements, ensuring our program captures all required data. In addition, Cityspan’s staff are highly dependable and very responsive to all inquiries and issues”David Dianora, Director – Citywide 21st Century Community Learning Centers Technical Assistance Center
New York City Department of Education