• IDRA Newsletter • November – December 2012 •

IDRA’s OurSchool website has been expanded to give community, family and school leaders a new level of high quality, accessible data to see how their schools are doing and plan ways to improve them. The OurSchool website originally provided high school-level data and, with support from TG Public Benefit, now includes college-level information.

The website (http://www.idra.org/OurSchool) provides key data for Texas school districts and high schools, including 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 site provides key questions to promote community conversations and a framework that local, cross-sector partners can use to plan joint action to improve school holding power. With 2.0 interactivity, visitors can keep a “my schools” portfolio and share results with local partners and policymakers. With its focus on Texas, the site is fully bilingual in English and Spanish.

The grant from TG Public Benefit made it possible for IDRA to upgrade the site with college persistence, success and developmental course success as well as make the site accessible for use with mobile phones. The site also has bilingual video tutorials for visitors.

Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, IDRA President & CEO said: “At every level, from policy to practice, people need clear, accurate and timely information to assess what is needed to strengthen schooling, take action, and make sure the actions are producing results for students. The OurSchool website is a powerful tool for parents, educators, students, policymakers, businesspeople, and city leaders who are working together to strengthen schools to graduate all students and prepare them to succeed in college.”

For cities like San Antonio that are committed to increasing graduation rates, the site is a valuable resource. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro commented: “We are at a critical time in San Antonio and across Texas… Investing in our people will require everyone coming together in partnership. IDRA’s effort to put useful data into the hands of the people who most need it is a key element in helping parents advocate for the best possible education for their children.”

Community organizations have been using the website to understand the obstacles to school success and to work together to address them. Mike Seifert with the Equal Voice Network in the Texas Rio Grande Valley said: “OurSchool portal data has been used in the Valley…Time and again, I have seen ‘Aha!’ moments when participants utilize this tool.”

IDRA also is engaging school district and college administrators in dialogues leading to a smoother student transitions to college and greater participation and graduation of traditionally underserved students in the state.

“With this portal, SISD parents as well as parents across the state [will] be able to access comprehensible data on college participation, preparation and success, which are key to ‘connecting the dots’ and closing gaps between K-12 education and post-secondary outcomes,” added Fernando Vasquez, Title I Specialist in the Socorro Independent School District.

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

[©2012, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the November-December 2012 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.]