A Date with Data
Eight Is Still Great: Meet the Ohio IDEA Data Team, Part Two
June 22, 2023
In our last episode of A Date with Data, we got to know the Ohio IDEA Data Team. Now it's time for a deeper dive. Join host Amy Bitterman as she continues her conversation with this innovative octet as they cover strategies for the collection, analyzation, reporting, improvement, and use of IDEA data. Pull up a chair; there's room for one more.
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You can contact us via the Podcast page on the IDC website at https://ideadata.org/.

### Episode Transcript ###

00:00:01.52  >> You're listening to "A Date with Data" with your host, Amy Bitterman.

00:00:07.34  >> Hey, it's Amy, and I'm so excited to be hosting "A Date with Data." I'll be chatting with state and district special education staff who, just like you, are dealing with IDEA data every day.

00:00:19.50  >> "A Date with Data" is brought to you by the IDEA Data Center.

00:00:24.83  >> Welcome to the second part of "A Date with Data's" conversation with the Ohio Special Education Data team. We are going to continue our conversation about how the team works and collaborates together and also hear about some of the exciting initiatives they're currently undertaking as well as plans for the future. What are some of the initiatives that this group is working on now and that you're really excited about? Can you share some stories or just talk about the work that you're doing together?

00:00:59.56  >> So I guess I'll jump in and say something that is kind of exciting that we're working through is the EMIS work group for special education, where we're sitting down and talking to the field and getting their feedback in regards to particular related services and whether we think that those would be program codes that would be worthy of having data reported on from the field. I'd definitely be part of that process newly and kind of engaging in that conversation. I definitely think it's exciting because it's just another extension of why it's very important that we have open perspective and collaboration not just within the data team but across the department and even with the field. Having that input from that work group, for example, has really provided a lot of insight about ongoing concerns or things that maybe we may be able to implement changes or processes of improvement, and I definitely think being a part of that new process is exciting and definitely puts our minds in the output of thinking, how can we provide better processes, whether that's coming from the data manager's side of looking at the data and analyzing it differently and maybe making adjustments to our code for the indicators, or maybe if it comes to collecting new and more important data as it is with related services and then also thinking, how can the data team and the monitoring team all come together to collaborate with us on figuring out what are new processes that we can put in place to really help bring forth any issues that we're seeing from the field and be able to address it appropriately. So I definitely think that's an exciting initiative that we're working on, and it really drives home the importance of us all working together cohesively. So that's one thing we're doing.

00:02:45.30  >> Another thing that we're doing is working on getting more of our special ed data out to the public. So a lot of our data is buried within our profiles, and you can find it, but it's not in a place where most of our internal and external stakeholders know to locate it. So within the data quality and governance office, we are working on multiple Power BI reports but on the same page where our local report card is, and we have a page called Advanced Reports where there are just tons and tons of public data available for both internal and external stakeholders. So it's a slow-going process, kind of a painful process, but by going through that theme, it'll make the special ed data more visual-able, and I think by doing that, it'll make people pay attention to special ed data more instead of just thinking it's kind of a side thought.

00:03:50.77  >> Yeah.

00:03:51.00  >> So ...

00:03:51.77  >> And you all have such an amazing significant disproportionality dashboard, too. So I'm sure you're kind of maybe using that as a model in some ways, or I just always really turn to that example from you all when other states are trying to do more of that work on getting their data more publicly available. So I'm sure what you're working on now will be fantastic, too.

00:04:18.72  >> I'm glad you brought up significant disproportionality because that's one of the things I was going to say that we've been excited about, that we recently did a bunch of changes for kind of in the interest of getting more data out around significant disproportionality even just through our special education profiles and the display that we use for the data. We've changed a ton of those display rules over the last ... I want to say two iterations reporting, so that we're showing now all of the data that we have for significant ... or disproportionality whereas previously we were only showing data for the districts and community schools who met the minimum group size. And if you're familiar with significant disproportionality, you can see how that might be problematic for districts who could then potentially be surprised that they've been flagged with significant disproportionality if they didn't get a warning in their previous profile that maybe the first year they didn't meet the minimum group size, and then the second and third year they were above that state threshold, and now the next profile they get flagged, but they didn't have that warning previously, so they didn't really know it was coming. Not that we had that happen at all, but in avoiding that now is that everybody can see whatever data is reported, even if they're not meeting that minimum group size. And then we've also added as kind of ... As part of our monitoring process, we provide action statements that they know of the processes they need to go through if they do hit on any of our indicators, and so one of those that we've added for disproportionality is a statement that tells them that they're at risk. So not only can they see all of that data, but they're getting an explicit language there that says, "Hey, you're at risk if this ... If you have a threshold above 2.5 for a third year, you'll be flagged in our next profile as well."

00:06:14.00  >> Hmm.

00:06:14.22  >> Just to jump in and add a little bit to that, another thing that we do, kind of focus on is continuous improvement of that monitoring tool that you had mentioned, the ... our special education profile. So in addition to those dispro things, we also have brought in some additional support on our indicators about graduation and dropout. So we've added those to the process as far as supporting districts and having required actions depending on their data in those areas as well. So it's really nice because we always do have an opportunity to take a continuous improvement mindset when it comes to the special education profiles and think about, "Okay, what are state initiatives? What do we really need to change our focus on in the office?" The reason that we kind of brought those into our special education profile monitoring system in the first place is to address our areas for improvement in our state determination. So it's really nice to kind of have that connection and to have that feedback and to be able to do those continuous improvement changes as well as supporting what we already have in the system.

00:07:19.75  >> Great. Well, there's certainly a lot happening of a lot of exciting work going on. And what about for the future? What do you have coming up that you'd like to highlight?

00:07:31.95  >> Well, based on what Matthew just said with our exiting indicators, our graduation and dropout indicators, we are looking at potentially changing some of our business rules for those in terms of how that data is being reported because we're getting a lot of feedback from the field having this been the first time that we've had required actions on these two indicators, where we're getting a lot of feedback from the field. We're processing a lot of that internally. We're getting a lot of feedback internally as well. So we're considering some updates to those indicators going forward which I think will better our reporting in the future, so changes both in our internal processes but also improving our products in the end.

00:08:14.41  >> Hmm.

00:08:14.54  >> Data, data, data, so glad I remembered. One of the things that excites me and what we have coming up in the future, too, is then the compilation of all the data that we can share with many of our stakeholders, districts, individual, our regional systems of support and statewide because if we can provide, "Here's our overall profile as a state. Here's where our strengths are. Here's our opportunities for improvement," and I think getting that out to people and especially some of our stakeholders like our educational service centers and state support teams to help us help the state and districts move our numbers is pretty exciting. And let's face it, who doesn't get excited over data? Come on.

00:09:00.77  >> I think all of us do at least.

00:09:03.33  >> I was going to build on something that Ashley said and also refer back to what's a challenge and what's an advantage on being on the smaller team is that through monitoring, one of the data things that we collect is through the review of the evaluations for indicators nine and ten. We look at five records per disability category for which the district is flagged, and the beautiful thing about that is there are two of us that do it, so we're really great iterators, but also there's just two of us that do it. So that month of January so that we can collect all of that and give it to Matthew, who does our APR, to get that done, it's a challenge, but that's where we get a lot of information that we're able to share out to the systems of support for things that are needed.

00:09:50.50  >> I'm really proud of the work that our team does, and I just want to read to you the vision statement that the team came up with. This is part of our own strategic planning. The vision of the data team is to articulate the experiences of Ohio students with disabilities by using data that improves educational outcomes and learning experiences.

00:10:15.92  >> Nice.

00:10:16.98  >> Yeah, I think so, too. I think so, too.

00:10:19.54  >> Even just having a vision statement, I think, is pretty cool.

00:10:23.59  >> Our mission statement is a little longer, but the vision really sets us out or where we ... That's where we see ourselves headed.

00:10:31.70  >> Yeah. Well, thank you all so much. This was really informative and so interesting to hear about the work you're doing, especially how you're working together as a team. That's, I think, just so exciting and unique.

00:10:49.26  >> This is Johanna. So thank you for inviting us and our team to come on air.

00:10:55.71  >> Mm-hmm.

00:10:56.17  >> Having a team is really a special thing, but they are excellent what they do. They do communicate at all levels and all different means of communication. They not only are sharing and communicating things out, but I think you heard them say, too, they're excellent at listening. So they're listening to stakeholders. They're listening to our regional support teams. They're listening to districts, and they're bringing that information back to information how we can improve our process over and over and over again, and to have a team that's dedicated to doing that is, as a state leader with this work, is amazing. Just there's so many different angles and so many different perspectives that come together to drive that. It just compounds. It multiplies faster that way, and they produce work that's amazing. So I'm very thankful for them, as a team, as well.

00:11:51.06  >> Well, thank you all again for your time and just sharing how this has been working for you all, and it just is so exciting to hear about, so thank you.

00:12:04.67  >> Thank you, Amy, for having us.

00:12:08.29  >> To access podcast resources, submit questions related to today's episode, or if you have ideas for future topics, we'd love to hear from you. The links are in the episode content, or connect with us via the podcast page on the IDC website at ideadata.org.