Education / Modern BI

Amplify K-12 Learning with the Microsoft Platform


Overview and Challenge

Money is almost equally important to teacher quality, student effort, and parent support in determining education outcomes. For the nation’s public K-12 schools, more than 90 percent of funding comes from state and local governments. 

These funds are distributed from statewide sales and income tax on a per-student basis, while local property taxes vary by municipality. With so many people invested, public school systems often feel the need to demonstrate a positive return on investment for their communities. One major public school district in the Pacific Northwest wanted to use data to make the most of every dollar by:

  • Retaining and recruiting quality staff
  • Raising grade point averages
  • Increasing graduations rates
  • Boosting the number of graduates heading to college

To achieve these goals, the district needed deeper insights into the trends and causes of student and staff outcomes.

The Solution

The school district partnered with BlueGranite to design a powerful, integrated Microsoft solution that would:

  1. Improve student outcomes 
  2. Optimize HR processes
  3. Streamline financial reporting

BlueGranite implemented Microsoft’s SQL Server Integration Services to stage and shape the school district’s data, which is loaded into SQL Server on an Azure Virtual Machine. This gives the district all of SQL Server’s benefits and power without the challenges and expense of managing on-premises hardware. Finally, the visually rich Power BI business analytics suite models and surfaces the district's data, giving dynamic insights across the district at a granular level.

The Results

Across each critical performance area, the school district was able to leverage their Microsoft solution to streamline processes and glean insights to drive innovation. 

Boosting Student Achievement

The student system – designed to help reach districtwide grade point targets, improve student success, and watch graduation readiness and college plans – refreshes hourly, storing data on: 

  • Behavior
  • health or medical issues
  • Attendance
  • Demographics
  • historical achievement and test scores
  • and other measures.

Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, BlueGranite designed a system to identify key success influencers and obstacles, including which teachers do best against which challenges and potential times of struggle for a student. A web portal with embedded benchmarks gives administration, school board members, and staff access to department-specific data. 

The district’s dedicated internal IT team, staffed with Power BI pros, also increased student engagement and motivation by “gamifying” attendance and achievement; this strategy will offers digital badges or rewards for completing specific steps.

Attaining Staffing Success

Instructors are arguably one of the biggest factors in student achievement, and adequately staffing a district of about 5,000 employees is no small feat. The district typically only has about two months over the summer to assess needs and fill vacancies.

The human resources solution BlueGranite designed for the district refreshes daily with information about employee vacancies, absences and other trends. The insights from this solution allow the district to better address annual turnover and identify staffing opportunities among part-time, intern, and contract employees.

The HR solution also provides a “single version of the truth” – or a consistent, non-fragmented view of data to simplify operations in this department. Previously, the department had 150 different payroll reports, all reporting on the same things in slightly different ways. Now, everyone has access to the same, up-to-date information every time. 

Restructuring Finance Workflows

Similar to HR, the elemental goal for the school district’s finance solution was to bring everyone to the same well for critical data. BlueGranite overhauled the entire financial reporting process, replacing it with a streamlined, efficient system that refreshes daily. The new, centralized source of data has sped up performance in the department and offered analytics capabilities to uncover trends or highlight issues.

With the help of BlueGranite, the school district has moved into the 21st century, giving each department a holistic data view. The district can now present insights to parents, students and instructors to improve overall district performance.

Wondering how we can help harness the potential of your data? Contact BlueGranite today.


Modernize Your Data Management Capabilities