Education / Modern BI

Amplify K-12 Learning with the Microsoft Platform



This innovative, major public school district in the Pacific Northwest serves more than 30,000 students and 5,000 employees. Acting as a guiding light for other districts in the area, they wanted to be able to use their data to gain insights of how to best apply their funding in these key areas:

  • Recruiting and retaining quality staff
  • Raising overall grade point averages
  • Increasing high school graduation rates
  • Nurturing college-bound graduates

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

The Challenges

Funding is one of the most fundamentally important needs in public education, equally important to teacher quality, student effort, and parental 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.

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


The Solution

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.



Boosting Student Achievement

The student system was designed to help reach district-wide grade point targets, improve student success, and watch graduation readiness and college plans. This system refreshes hourly, storing data on: 

  • Student behavior
  • Health/medical issues
  • Attendance
  • Demographics
  • Historical achievements/test scores
  • 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 incentivizing attendance and achievement; this strategy will offers digital badges or rewards for completing specific steps.


HR Transformation

Instructors are arguably one of the biggest factors in student achievement, and adequately staffing a district of this size with quality employees is no small feat. The district typically only has about two months over the summer to assess needs and fill vacancies. The HR partners responsible for talent acquisition require accurate and timely data as their own performance and efficiency is measured, in part, by the "time-to-hire" metric.

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. HR managers now have a rich insight into recruitment trends, district demographics, and quality of candidates.

The district was keenly interested in minimizing educational disruptions caused by instructor absences by monitoring a metric called the "sub-fill-rate". By ingesting flat files from the cloud absence management provider, the HR solution showed how efficiently management fills absences of certified teachers with experienced substitutes.


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 via a handful of dynamic reports published to Microsoft’s world-class Power BI service.

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 financial 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, along with Power BI, sped up performance in the department and offered analytics capabilities to uncover trends or highlight issues while offering dynamic and accurate operational reporting for critical areas such as budget, balance sheet/trial balance, inventory management, accounts payable, accounts receivable, and more.

Monitoring IT Services

For any organization, an expansive array of IT infrastructure and services can be a challenge to adequately monitor for the sake of sufficiently identifying and addressing needs as they arise. BlueGranite captured critical data including Azure Active Directory user and group membership, Power BI usage and resource consumption, end-user login sessions, and more to design structured monitoring and oversight reporting, allowing for a complete and insightful view into the district’s IT infrastructure.

BlueGranite offered a ready-built Power BI monitoring solution for the sake of granting insight into the Power BI tenant’s current state, tracking user adoption and behavior, and monitoring gateway health and performance.

The Results

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

With the help of BlueGranite, the school district has moved into the 21st century, giving each department a holistic data view, conforming once-siloed repositories of data into a single complete picture that spans student information, HR, and finance. The district can now present insights to parents, students, and instructors to improve overall district performance and achieve greater institutional effectiveness.

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


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