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Simplifying and Streamlining: How Tech Helps Teachers Respond to Student Needs

November 13, 2015

Teachers in New York City know that information about their students-- their attendance, grades, and test or quiz scores-- provide important insights into what the students already know, and where they may need a little more help. To make the process of organizing and comparing data more efficient and easier for teachers, the city has begun to put computer systems to work on this very task, and they’re already seeing the ways that data can make a difference.

Thanks to the help of a nonprofit called New Visions for Public Schools, 94 schools in New York City are using spreadsheets driven by Google Docs to crunch their numbers and search for patterns. Instead of printing off all that paper, teachers are gathering to review spreadsheets and make smart choices about how to respond to students who need it most. At Juan Morel Campos Secondary School in Brooklyn, for instance, these new data tools are allowing school leaders to target students for tutoring or reward them for good attendance, as well as to determine the most troublesome subjects to offer more extra help.

Campos and other similar schools just started using these programs this school year, but they’ve already begun to save teachers and administrators precious time and energy. “This is a push to make data more friendly,” said Chris Caruso, the city’s Executive Director of Community Schools. And with so much crucial information now available at their fingertips, educators in New York are beginning to discover that these data systems are a friend indeed.