GREENFIELD — Greenfield-Central High School has been tapped by the U.S. Department of Education to participate in a two-year study aimed at identifying students at risk of dropping out.
Greenfield-Central already regularly analyzes student data to target students with poor attendance or falling grades for potential intervention strategies, but the software provided by the DOE is different, assistant principal Dan Jack recently told the G-C School Board.
The software will track student progress much earlier, potentially identifying students in need of extra attention as early as their first year of high school.
“We do think that it will offer some helpful information … starting at the freshman level, whereas currently, we have to wait at least a year really before we gather that data in a form we can use,” associate superintendent Ann Vail said.
The software automatically tracks data points including attendance, grades – even behavior in class if it results in a student being disciplined.
“We’ll have instant access to that,” Jack said. “It’ll be on our servers.”
The high school already can tap into that data, but without a software program to automatically compile the results, the process is time-consuming, Jack explained to the board.
“It can take all day just to pull the data for one category,” he said. “This is going be a huge help for us and a time-saver.”
Board members raised some concerns about students’ personal information being utilized as part of the study. Vail said that was one of her main questions for the DOE, which is studying student performance at 90 schools throughout Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana.
Representatives said the data will undergo a scrubbing process, ridding it of personal information before it is entered into the research database, Vail said.
Jack said he looks forward to building on the intervention strategies the high school already has in place. The software program will not specifically recommend intervention techniques, but it will give educators a starting point for reaching out to those students who are at risk of dropping out.
“There’s a lot that we’re doing; I think we just need to target it better,” Jack said. “It helps us prioritize our resources.”
Superintendent Linda Gellert said she looks forward to seeing what else the software might reveal.
“I think what we don’t always see are trends and patterns,” Gellert said. “I’m more interested in seeing what intersects. I’m hoping that we’ll get some very useable information.”
The study has two launch dates. G-C will begin its participation in the study either at the end of the month during the first launch or early fall during a second launch.
“It’s kind of a win-win,” Jack said. “It’s a study for them – we’ll be giving them results and some data – and in exchange, we get to keep the software forever.”