• IDRA Newsletter • September 2010 • 

Community, family and school leaders need high quality, accessible data to assess how schools are doing and develop a plan to improve them. The just-launched latest generation of IDRA’s data website provides key data for all Texas school districts and high schools. Data include: outcomes on ACT/SAT tests, college-sending rates, teacher certification rates, and district-level attrition rates. Designed around IDRA’s Quality Schools Action Framework, the portal provides key questions to promote community conversations and a framework that local, cross-sector partners can use to develop and assess action plans. With 2.0 interactivity, the portal enables visitors to keep a “my schools” portfolio, conduct surveys and share results with local partners and policymakers.

This website (http://www.idra.org/OurSchool) is helping community and school partners examine their school data and plan joint action to improve school holding power. With Texas schools losing one-third of their students, schools and communities in Texas and around the country are looking to new ways to understand the obstacles to school success and to work together to address them. Gathering quality information is a first step.

To meet this need, IDRA developed a prototype school holding power portal in 2007 that placed accurate, high quality information in the hands of people at the leading edge of systems change. Through the portal, educators and community members found out how well their high school campuses were preparing and graduating students, what factors might be weakening school holding power, and what they could do to address them.

This new upgraded web-based tool helps schools and communities get key data to: (1) assess dropout rates; (2) find out how well schools are holding on to students and preparing them for college; and (3) partner and take action to strengthen schools. Specifically, the portal provides:

  • Key data to help you determine whether high dropout rates and weak school holding power are a problem for your school.
  • Actionable knowledge and key questions to spark conversations and action planning around: teaching quality, curriculum quality, attrition, college readiness, college access and college sending.
  • Real-time data collection features via surveys (e.g., to measure parent engagement).
  • Social networking features you can use to share data with others and attach charts or graphs, keep track of your own notes, or call a community-school meeting to work on a specific issue.
  • Bilingual (Spanish/English) content.

Community oversight is a critical missing ingredient in effective and accountable dropout prevention efforts at the local level,” said Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, IDRA President & CEO. “We also know that schools and communities working together have the capacity to craft and carry out effective solutions that will make a difference for students.”

Change begins with school, community and legislative action,” she added. “Working in partnership, parents, educators, students, policymakers, businesspeople can create schools that hold onto all students until graduation and prepare them to succeed.

Comments and questions may be directed to IDRA at feedback@idra.org.

[©2010, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the September 2010 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]