Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cube Shortcuts - Start with a Cube View

Not all users feel comfortable working in the EDW cubes, as they are quite a bit more complicated than accessing the pre-defined reports. If you're in this camp (and even if you're in the cube expert camp) you can access Cube Views to help you get started. A cube view has already been manipulated and saved to present the data in a particular way. DESE has developed several cube views, including:
  • MCAS CPI Trends by Grade Level
  • MCAS Demographic Trends
  • MCAS Performance by Grade Level
  • MCAS Performance by Year
  • MCAS School/District CPI vs State CPI by Grade
  • MCAS Special Education Performance Gap Trends
These can serve as excellent starting points for your inquiry. To work with them, simply navigate to the folder Public Folders > ESE Cubes > Cube Views and click the cube view that you'd like to investigate. Use the Dimension Line at the top of the screen to "filter" the data by choosing the desired district or school, subject area, subgroup, etc.


If you have changed the view and would like to save it, you can click the Save As icon in the lower right corner and save it to your My Folders area or your District Folder. (Don't worry, you can't accidentally overwrite the public cube views.) This is similar to saving Report Views. If you'd like to convert the cube view to PDF for printing, click the File button in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen (looks like a page) and choose Export PDF.


For more information on cubes, please see Chapter 3 of the EDW User's Guide.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

2010 MCAS Cube Available!

For the cube enthusiasts out there, the 2010 MCAS results are now available! A “cube” in the EDW is an analysis tool that allows the user to “slice and dice” the data in many different ways. Cubes can be trickier to manipulate than the reports, but they can be useful, for example, to: 

  • analyze trend data by strand, question type, or subgroup,
  • combine subgroups, grade levels, schools,
  • create calculations, e.g. %Proficient/Advanced, or
  • view data simultaneously for multiple schools within a district.
When working with the cubes, it is recommended that you use Internet Explorer.  If you use Mozilla Firefox, you will not have all the functionality available to you. Internet Explorer allows you to drag and drop, but with Firefox, you will need to right click on the object and select the action you wish to perform from the dropdown menu that appears.

Once you have logged into the EDW, go to Public Folders > ESE Cubes. Click on the most recent cube release (e.g. MCAS Official Release 2010) to open the cube view. There are two important features of a cube: dimensions and measures. Dimensions are all the groupings by which you can view the results, e.g. by grade, school, subgroup, year, question type, etc. Measures are the actual quantitative results, e.g. percent correct, CPI, number of tests administered, etc. At this point, only MCAS data are available in a cube.  Unfortunately growth data (median SGPs) are not available, because median values cannot be rolled up - they must always be calculated from the detail for the group selected.

For more information on working in the cubes, see the MA DESE EDW User Guide chapter 3.  Remember, you can save "cube views" in My Folders or in your district folder, so you don't need to start from scratch each time. Please let us know if you need assistance!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Early Warning Indicator Index

DESE recently released Early Warning Indicator Index (EWII) data to all districts, as announced in the Nov. 10th Commissioner's Update. The EWII was developed to assist local staff in identifying and supporting 9th grade students who may be at risk of not graduating on time from high school. This project was piloted over the last few years with the Urban Superintendents Network. This is the first year data are being provided to all school districts statewide. Students who were in eighth grade at the end of last year (most of whom are likely to be current 9th graders) are assigned one of five risk levels (Very High Risk, High Risk, Borderline, At Risk, or Low Risk) based on their grade 8 MCAS results, grade 8 attendance rate, age as of September 1, 2010, and number of in- and out-of-school suspensions in the 2009-2010 school year.  

The student rosters and other resources are in the district Accountability 2010 Drop Box in the security portal , including:
  • A guidance/FAQ document with additional details about the EWII
  • Detailed student rosters in Microsoft Excel format
  • An additional Excel document containing both a calculator for determining risk levels for students who are not listed on the roster, as well as summary risk level data by district, region, and accountability and assistance level.
District personnel must have the "Accountability - District" security role to access these data.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Finding the EDW Report you want

As the list of EDW reports grows, it can be a challenge to keep up with what's where. We have a few documents in a variety of formats to help you navigate:

  • For the visual learners out there, my colleague Lisa Hoang created EDW Report Thumbnails of all the predefined MCAS reports in the EDW.  All student names and SASIDs are fictional.
  • We updated the DESE EDW MCAS Report Grid to include the growth reports. We provided this to participants at trainings through Shore Collaborative. 
  • For just a straightforward list, including the enrollment reports, we have the EDW Report List. 
  • Finally, my colleague in the Southeastern DSAC created the EDW Report Summary which provides suggestions on how each MCAS report could be used and whether similar information exists in the DESE School and District Profiles.
We hope you find these helpful!

Monday, November 15, 2010

DART Updated

Earlier this month DESE released updated versions of DART. If you haven't seen this tool, it offers a "snapshot of district and school performance" in an Excel workbook, one for district-level analysis, one for school-level analysis. You can use the tool to explore how your school or district is doing on a variety of indicators compared to the state and to one other school or district of your choosing. The tool helpfully identifies demographically "similar" districts/schools to aid your selection. In my work with districts, this feature has generated the most interest and discussion! You should remember that you can also review data from other schools and districts via the EDW (aggregate data only) and in the DESE school and district profiles. Using these three tools in conjunction with one another can lead to some powerful data-driven conversations!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

EDW Returns!

The EDW was down for a few days this week, but is now back up. You may get the "IBM Cognos" home page when you log in. Remember, if you un-check the box at the bottom, you won't see it the next time you log in. Also, this message is on the Welcome Tab:

"The EDW is back online and all content has been restored. Thank you for your patience during this unscheduled outage. A small percentage of users may be missing content in their My Folders. However, be assured that we have all content in a backup folder and it will be restored to your My Folders upon request. Please contact us at datawarehouse@doe.mass.edu if your content is missing from My Folders."

Having just checked my own account, I will now be sending an email to the above address....

Monday, November 1, 2010

Security Portal Unavailable

In case you haven't noticed yet, the DESE Security Portal is down and has been all day today. At this point it appears to be a hardware issue. DESE has not yet estimated when it will be back up. You won't see any notification if you try to go directly to the portal, but there is a notice posted on the DESE website.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

EDW 2-Page Overview

Some people enjoy reading all there is to know about a topic. Then there are others who prefer the cliff-notes. For this second group, I developed this EDW 2-Page Overview. It has all the basic functionality you need in, well, just two pages. Print it, hang it above your desk, tape it to your laptop, fold it up real small to go in your wallet, wherever you might need it. Of course, if you want more details, you can always go to the official DESE EDW User Guide.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Scheduling Reports

Are you growing weary of watching the hour glass spin? One of the most useful things you can learn in the EDW is how to schedule reports. This means setting up reports to run in the background, or to run later at a specified time. This is particularly helpful if you have a set of reports you want to run and save as report views. It is vital if you want to run student-level reports, especially those that have one student on each page (R-602, R-606, R-610, R-613). As a general rule-of-thumb, the reports with one student per page will take about 30 seconds PER STUDENT. So if you want to run a set for a classroom with 24 students, that’s 12 minutes…not good. In fact, the DESE recommends that these reports should either be run for groups of students fewer than 10, or scheduled to run overnight. Even when running overnight, it is strongly recommended that you set it up for no more than 100 students at a time. Information on how to schedule reports can be found in the DESE EDW User Guide or in this 2-page handout that I adapted from the User Guide. (The steps are the same, it’s just the formatting and size of document that’s different.) Wouldn’t it be nice if all of our work could be set up to complete overnight while we sleep? 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Data data everywhere….but where exactly?

As district and school staff, you have a wealth of data available, but it’s not always easy to figure out where to go to get what you need. In some cases, the same information is available in multiple locations, though not always in the same format. In this post, I'll focus on MCAS Student Rosters, which are available in two locations within the DESE Security Portal:

Drop Box Central -> MCAS 2010 Data – There is a PDF student roster for each grade/subject area combination in the school. The rosters include students who took the test with no SASID. Staff with the security role MCAS Drop Box at the school-level can access these reports. Staff with the role at the district-level will not be able to view these reports.

Education Data Warehouse – The benefits of the three EDW rosters include the ability to sort in several different ways, the option to create a group of students, and the ability to access data for your current students (if your district submits student claim files…more on student claiming in a future blog). Staff with the security role DW-211 School User or DW-210 District User can access these reports. On each of these, you can drill through to get more detailed information on each student included in the roster.

1. R-616 Test Item Analysis Roster – Available for a selected school, grade, and subject area. You can filter for a particular group of students by performance level or subgroup and can sort the roster by last name or scaled score. Results are available either by individual item or by question type. This roster is similar to the Dropbox roster, but does not include students who took the test without a SASID

2. R-617 Student MCAS Roster – Available for a selected grade. Filtering for a particular school is optional. Data displayed includes the test status, scaled score and performance level for each subject area.

3. G-602 Student Growth Roster – Available for a selected school and grade. The report includes the ELA and Math scaled scores for 2008, 2009, and 2001, as well as the SGP for 2010. You can sort by scaled score, SGP, or last name, and group the results by various subgroups. You can select the students included by pasting in a list of SASIDs on the prompt page.

Hope this helps!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Welcome to the Greater Boston Data Blog!

Welcome to the Greater Boston Data Blog! This is being brought to you by the Greater Boston District and School Assistance Center ("DSAC"). As a Data Specialist on the DSAC team, I will post information, updates, important dates and tips related to data-use and inquiry for school districts in the Greater Boston area.

If you'd like to receive blog posts via email (rather than trying to remember to check back here every now and then), please enter your email in the box on the right. I envision posting information once or twice a week. If there is something you'd like to see on the blog, please let me know. For example, you could share a share a successful inquiry or data-use practice, a challenge facing your district, or simply a question you have. The more we share, the better the resource will be for everyone! Please contact me at paula.osullivan@dsacma.org with any questions you may have. I am new to "blogging" so bear with me as I head up the learning curve!