Bringing Data Science and Education Expertise together to Advance Student Success in Dallas County

June 13, 2018

Image courtesy of The Commit Partnership

Dallas County educates over 500,000 students in Grades K-12, accounting for 10% of all students in Texas. However, less than one in three public school graduates in Dallas County will complete college within six years. What approaches are or might be successful in improving this situation and helping students reach their full potential?

Founded in 2012, The Commit Partnership (Commit) is an education nonprofit working to ensure all students in Dallas-Fort Worth receive an excellent and equitable education. Commit works alongside a coalition of over 200 partners (including public and private schools, colleges and universities, foundations, businesses, and nonprofits) to help solve the region’s biggest systemic challenges, including improving early childhood education, preparing and retaining effective educators, and increasing completion rates. Commit’s staff aligns community stakeholders around a shared future roadmap—analyzing data to lift up strategies to grow the community’s capacity to equitably serve every student.

By leveraging data, community expertise, and collaboration to measure what matters, Commit identifies best practices for regional student achievements and spreads what works across the Commit partnership. They use key indicators to measure student achievement, identify practices that create an environment of outlier success, and work to help align community resources to inform action.

Building on their deep expertise in education data and systems and their trusted connections with educational organizations and stakeholders in Dallas, Commit is partnering with DataKind, the Microsoft Cities Team - Civic Engagement, and StriveTogether to apply machine learning techniques to critical questions on student success. 

The project will build on publicly available data sets and longitudinal data sets of 5 million individual assessment records and apply advanced data processing, analysis and modeling techniques to extract meaningful insights around student performance trends and relationships between assessments and outcomes.  The insights can then be utilized by the Commit network of educators, advocates, and stakeholders, with the potential to ultimately lead to a greater understanding of education strategies and the potential policies that could bolster student success.

In addition to helping the education community and students of Dallas County, the goal of the project participants – DataKind, Commit, Microsoft, and StriveTogether – is to demonstrate the power of combining advanced data science techniques with subject matter experts for impact on civic priorities.  The analytic techniques, technology approaches, and lessons learned will be shared at the end of the project to inform the strategies and analyses of other nonprofits and educational organizations across the U.S.

A team of DataKind’s expert pro bono data scientists - Data Ambassador Mattia Fumagalli, Jessica Brown, Lulu Cheng, Chetan Mishra, Sam O'Mullane and Gulya Radjapova - is kicking off the collaboration with the Commit Analytics Team this month. Stay tuned for more on this exciting project!