Bright Spots are written and produced by the Campaign to showcase the work in Grade-Level Reading communities to make progress on school readiness, school attendance and summer learning by 2016. Continue reading below or download a PDF version.
When partners in Roanoke, Virginia’s grade-level reading coalition gather to work, they look at a screen filled with data organized in clear crisp graphics generated by the online data and strategy platform, Results Scorecard.
“The Scorecard could not have come at a better time,” says Sheila Umberger, director of the Roanoke Public Libraries, the lead organization for the local GLR campaign that has used the Scorecard software to display its data and help guide its work since fall 2013.
“We had been rolling out our plan for about 10 to 12 months prior. We had a ton of data but welcomed the idea that we could create a Scorecard to see the data, particularly over time, and see where we were doing well or weren’t or needed to refocus. I was very relieved it was offered. We knew really quickly it’s a huge help.”
Roanoke is among 48 GLR communities piloting the Results Scorecard., a high-tech tool available to all GLR communities. Pilot communities get a single site license for one year, receive technical support to implement and can participate in a “community of practice” through monthly “Town Hall” meetings via webinar. They commit to buying the initial setup and data entry for a discounted flat fee of $1,500.
Used to create a community snapshot and tell a community’s story, the Scorecard can include data about many things, from many sources, displayed in many ways including trend lines and analyses within a community; comparisons of various schools, school districts and communities; and projections forecasting results if a particular strategy is or is not pursued. Scorecard graphics also can be used during public presentations or to bolster reports or grant applications, with information relayed via pdf and PowerPoint.
To date, Roanoke has used the Scorecard to guide local strategy discussions and refine what it measures. When the Scorecard showed an increase in chronically absent elementary school students, “our partners began working together to drill down further into this data and to develop strategies,” says Annie Mountcastle, a library assistant overseeing Roanoke’s Scorecard effort.
And when Roanoke was mapping out a kindergarten readiness effort to provide children with free books, the Scorecard helped determine a target audience. “It became clear that over time we want to be able to track how many books we give away specifically to children ages 0 to 5 and children over 5,” says Mountcastle.
The Scorecard also encourages collaboration. “One thing that’s easy to have happen in any campaign is you drift into your own area,” says Umberger. “The Scorecard keeps pulling us back as a group to look at the bigger picture."
Roanoke earned buy-in for the Scorecard, in part, by designating Mountcastle to oversee the technology and to gather the best data by working with GLR partners, from the school district to various nonprofits.
“We all saw the value but people are really busy. Sometimes they can feel like this is one more thing they have to do,” says Umberger. “You have to have someone who takes the lead, who’s actually read the entire manual and can ride herd.”
Roanoke also benefited from 15 hours of technical assistance from the Results Leadership Group, (RLG) a Maryland-based firm, and later bought additional hours from an RLG consultant.
The time and effort has paid off, providing a shared language and tool that helps the Roanoke campaign stay on track. “It focuses the conversation, requiring everyone to return to that Community Solutions Action Plan and to look at the data connected to the Campaign’s vision and goals,” says Mountcastle. “It also creates space for everybody to be on the same page about what we’re looking for in our own programs, in each other’s programs and in collaborative partnerships we might develop.”
For more information, contact Annie Mountcastle at 540-853-2955 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the Results Scorecard Pilot, contact Bob Saffold at 919-710-1065 or email@example.com. Photos: Roanoke Public Libraries; Publication Date: Fall 2014
Want more? Check out how to use data to construct a baseline report on GLR work and using data to inform strategies in Austin.
Does your community use the Results Scorecard? If so, share your experience in the comments box!
To nominate a community to be featured as a Bright Spot, please contact Betsy Rubiner at firstname.lastname@example.org.