Evaluation 2019: Paths to the Future of Evaluation: Contribution, Leadership, and Renewal

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Our Journey to Develop a Comprehensive Data System to support Out-of-School Time (OST) Providers

Session Number: 2277
Track: Systems in Evaluation
Session Type: Panel
Tags: Data dashboards, Data Visualization, out-of-school time
Session Chair: Dylan Elise Farmer [Project Coordinator - Southern Methodist University - Center on Research and Evaluation]
Presenter 1: Dylan Elise Farmer [Project Coordinator - Southern Methodist University - Center on Research and Evaluation]
Presenter 2: Harvey Luna [Project Manager - Center on Research and Evaluation | Southern Methodist University]
Presentation 1 Additional Author: Annie Wright [Director of Evaluation - SMU CORE ]
Presentation 1 Additional Author: Lauren Ammons [Director of Research and Evaluation - Dallas Afterschool]
Presentation 2 Additional Author: Dylan Elise Farmer [Project Coordinator - Southern Methodist University - Center on Research and Evaluation]
Presentation 2 Additional Author: Annie Wright [Director of Evaluation - SMU CORE ]
Time: Nov 15, 2019 (11:30 AM - 12:15 PM)
Room: CC M100 A

Abstract 1 Title: The Case for ELIS: How a Long-Talked-About Idea became a Reality
Presentation Abstract 1:

Dallas Afterschool and Big Thought are two Dallas-based nonprofits with a mission to expand and improve quality afterschool and summer learning across North Texas. In partnership with CORE at SMU, both also collect extensive data designed to drive formative evaluation and outcome analyses. As a collective, we quickly realized the need to streamline OST data collection in North Texas. With the support of our local schools and funding organizations, we set out to create the Expanded Learning Information System (ELIS). ELIS is a single comprehensive data system, based at a local university. The “system” is comprised of common inputs, common outputs, a web-based dashboard, and serves as a tool for targeted supports, new research, and interagency collaboration. We will discuss key elements for success, as well as challenges and solutions. The objective is to present a case for similar initiatives elsewhere while describing the mutual benefit for all stakeholders.

Abstract 2 Title: The Data system: The “Back-End” Database and Forward-Facing Dashboard
Presentation Abstract 2:

The data system is the heart of the ELIS system. The ELIS data system, housed at SMU in Dallas, serves as the structure (or “rules”) for what data is collected, from whom, and what it seeks to measure. The back-end structure includes several components, including a data dictionary that describes each data element of the ELIS system, and the Extract-Transform-Load (ETL) programming language allows for uploading and transforming of raw data into the tables and dimensions within the relational database as soon as data is available and without need for significant human input. Third, direct streams connect ELIS to our local school district to provide updated student-level data about in-school achievement. The web-based reporting tool is the “export” of the data system to a dynamic user dashboard, allowing programs to access aggregate data about their program(s) as well as aggregate data about the ELIS system at-large.

Audience Level: All Audiences

Session Abstract (150 words): 

While many children attend Out-of-School Time (OST) programs, data collection within OST remains fragmented, redundant and even absent. SMU’s Center on Research and Evaluation is the evaluation partner for the two predominant OST backbone organizations in North Texas. Both provide complimentary services to a large number of OST providers, and both also collect OST programming data. Growing awareness of their duplicative yet different data collection processes motivated the partners to begin discussions about deepening their collaboration to expand and refine their reach. With a goal of supporting practitioners as well as researchers, the Expanded Learning Information System (ELIS) was born. ELIS is a sector-wide OST data collection and reporting system that spans providers, schools, researchers, foundations and backbone agencies in North Texas. This session will describe our ELIS journey, from conceptualization to implementation, focusing on the infrastructure for data collection and sharing, challenges, successes, reporting tools, and ongoing evaluation.  

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