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Pragmatic Works was able to help a large school district in Georgia use Power BI to easily and effectively pinpoint struggling students in order to get the help they need to graduate, while saving the district over $300,000 in staff resources and time.

Problem:

Forsyth County Schools, a large, fast-growing school district with 40 schools and over 80,000 employees and 51,000 students, was looking for an easy and seamless way to identify students who were at risk of not graduating, so they could provide the support and attention needed. All student data was previously being analyzed individually by school leadership teams. Contending with the tremendous amount of data required tons of time and in-depth background knowledge. The district also had siloed student data, which was being analyzed manually, making it tedious and unwieldy to access and take advantage of. All of this was causing the district to struggle with using and understanding their data in the best way to gain insights to benefit the students.

Solution:

Pragmatic Works came on board to provide a Power BI pilot to assist Forth County School District (Forsyth) with choosing Microsoft Power BI as their reporting and analytics tool. The district’s Technology Services team, led by Tim Fleming, Director of Technology Services at Forsyth County Schools, was seeking a way to assist their struggling students by using the most current information and combining data – Power BI was chosen as a seamless solution based on its affordability, ease of use and accessibility to all users, and ability to effectively bring data together in one place.

This engagement was comprised of multiple phases. The initial phase set about to combine all data from disparate sources to create a unified data model for reporting. Our team used Azure SQL Database and Azure Data Factory to bring in and incorporate essential data. Once this architecture was established, Pragmatic Works and Forsyth worked to build out dashboard-style reports to determine problem areas faced by students. In the final phases, other reports were created that provided the district an overview of student’s progress and student performance trends, as well as a report to recognize and track disciplinary actions.

The Forsyth County School District is currently beginning the next step of utilizing automated machine learning in Power BI to look at past data and make predictions about students’ graduation outcomes.

Benefits:

The Power BI solutions and initiatives delivered by Pragmatic Works provided the school district with a seamless, easy to use way to identify and advocate for at risk students. By starting with combining data from disparate sources to create a unified data model for reporting, citizen developers can access data easily through sematic models in Power BI Premium, thus ensuring their information is accurate and provides a single source of truth.

In their evaluation of products, Forsyth was looking for a product that could provide clean, customizable dashboard-style reports and straightforward accessibility to the average user, without a huge expense. Power BI fulfilled the district’s needs with a cost savings of over $300,000 in staff resources and time.

One of the main goals of Forsyth was to move their 94 percent graduation rate to 100 percent. The Power BI reports created gave the 40 schools and centers an easy to consume look at assessment information, current class scores, gender, and ethnicity, as well as GPA, absences, and discipline referrals. Most importantly, the dashboard includes visualizations that will help point out whether a student is at risk of not graduating.

According to Tim Fleming, "We’re finding the students who maybe have fallen through the cracks over the years. We’re presently working with the students to make sure they’re going to graduate, and I guarantee you’re going to see our graduation rate go up because of those students that we’re able to find and get help—and Power BI enabled us to do that.”

Other reports were created to provide the whole district with an overview of student progress. One report gives a holistic overview to student’s testing results, while another highlights student performance over a period and points out downward trends so students can get the immediate intervention they need. A report was also developed to track and recognize disciplinary actions, thus identifying the need to act and find ways to help students both inside and outside of the classroom.

The Pragmatic Works team continues to work with Forsyth to utilize machine learning in Power BI to give students graduation prediction scores by looking at past data, running students through a model and making predictions about student’s success and graduation outcomes.

Due to our ability to provide this Power BI solution to the Forsyth District, their Technology Services team is passionate about Power BI and plans to encourage other K-12 school systems to take advantage of the tool for their data. Fleming stated “Power BI has been an outstanding product for us. It really makes the hard-to-look-at data very easy to digest. [Power BI] makes it so that anyone can look at a chart, decide which students are in need, and provide necessary resources. You’re going to see our graduation rate go up because of those students that we’re able to find and get help—and Power BI enabled us to do that.”

You can read Microsoft's original article on this success story here. As a Microsoft Certified Partner, we can help your business gain valuable insights into your data and take advantage of the most powerful reporting and analytics tool—Power BI. Contact us to learn more about our Remote Services and fully customizable solutions.

 

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