Building Data Systems: Tips and Resources

Guest post by Nina Agrawal, Policy & Communications Coordinator, CBASS

Yesterday the Collaborative for Building After-School Systems (CBASS) participated in a webinar about harnessing the power of data to improve OST programs. Session speakers discussed the value of collecting and sharing data across systems and highlighted some best practices and valuable resources.

The webinar took as its launching point the fact that city-wide approaches to after-school education are growing. As they do so, providers are increasingly looking for help in gathering and sharing data, or building “management information systems” (MIS). Management information systems are comprised of various stakeholders (e.g. funders, agency managers, program staff, parents, and school principals) and the ways they might want to use, evaluate and share data.

We learned that as cities are developing management information systems, it is important that they identify each stakeholder and the questions they want to answer, as well as to ensure that information flows in a two-way street among program providers to funders and OST networks.

Below is a list of resources on collecting, using and sharing data to improve out-of-school-time programs that were shared during the webinar and #afterschooldata Twitter chat:

  • Building Management Information Systems to Coordinate Citywide Afterschool Programs: A Toolkit for Cities The National League of Cities’ Institute for Youth, Education and Families presented its latest publication, Building Management Information Systems to Coordinate Citywide Afterschool Programs: A Toolkit for Cities.
  • The Wallace Foundation’s Knowledge Center includes 6 tip sheets for cities on using data in after-school, including using data for accountability, advocacy and program involvement, as well as strategies for data sharing.
  • The Wallace Foundation also produced a report offering examples of the costs to cities of building systems to collect after-school data.
  • The Urban Institute’s National Neighborhoods Indicators Partnership offers an online guide to local data sharing.
  • The U.S. Department of Education Privacy Technical Assistance Center helps state and local education agencies, as well as higher education institutions, navigate issues related to the privacy, security and confidentiality of student records.
  • A report by Education Sector looks at New York City’s efforts to incorporate an evidence-based approach to classroom instruction. The lessons learned so far on data collection and sharing are instructive for public school systems and after-school programs in other cities, too.
  • Toolkit for Expanding LearningThe Toolkit for Expanding Learning, a project of The Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project and CBASS, includes data monitoring tools such as TASC’s Grad Tracker. The toolkit also includes results of effective data tracking, such as a paper by the Family League of Baltimore linking student participation in OST programs to a decreased likelihood of being chronically absent.
  • Efforts in Denver, CO, and Grand Rapids, MI, were highlighted as examples of collaboration among public school systems, OST providers, and technology partners to facilitate the sharing of academic and OST participation data.

This webinar was the second in a three-part series on strengthening after-school systems co-hosted by the Wallace Foundation, National League of Cities, Forum for Youth Investment, and CBASS. Stay tuned for the third and final webinar in this series, Improving Quality Systemwide, Oct. 11 at 1PM EDT.