Mississippi embarks on project to tell 'meaningful stories' through student data

Yan Li, a CoSN NextGen Leader, tells EdScoop TV about the data analytics initiative at the Mississippi Department of Education.

An ambitious analytics project is underway at the Mississippi Department of Education that aims to “transfer massive data into meaningful stories, stories that are logical and easy to follow and understand,” Yan Li , director of research and analytics at the department, tells EdScoop TV.

The data-driven initiative is part of the state’s effort to extract insightful information about student trends and development over time, says Li, a 2018 CoSN/EdScoop NextGen Leader .

An internal data dashboard was released in February, and the external one is still being fine-tuned with the help of surveys, feedback from education stakeholders and a number of researchers, analysts and data experts at the state education department, Li says.

In order to glean helpful insights that can eventually improve educational outcomes for students in Mississippi, department officials have to learn to ask the right questions.

“When you are doing data analytics, choose questions that matter because over time you want to know what is working and what is not working so that you can focus more on what is effective and less of what is not,” Li says.

Additionally, she says, any project of this kind requires plenty of collaboration, communication and patience. “Starting from scratch is not easy. It requires time and effort.”

Learn more about the Mississippi Department of Education’s data analytics initiative and the role Li thinks big data should play in education:

What kind of impact are you seeing from that project so far?

What advice would you offer to others considering this type of project?

What edtech issues do you feel are most important for educators or technology directors to pay attention to this year?

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