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Illuminator Spotlight: Using Data Warehouse to Help Make Data-Informed Decisions

November 10th, 2015
Mitch Fowler
Director of School Data Services at the Calhoun Intermediate School District (ISD)

Tell us about your current role in Calhoun ISD.
I work with 20 school districts across three counties in Michigan. We spend time exploring why data should be collected, what data to collect, and which tools are available to assist us. My role spans everything from classroom assessment to program evaluation. It’s a great mix of content! I love seeing how lots of school districts are trying to answer the same question; how do we prepare students? It’s been amazing seeing various approaches and it’s fun to share that info.

How does Illuminate Data and Assessment (DnA) help with your assessment strategy and your goals for data-informed instruction?

Illuminate is a tool that helps us achieve several goals. Its main use at this point is to collect and warehouse achievement data so that educators can recognize trends and make decisions. We are only 6 months into the product and have had roughly 4,000 assessments created, over 1,000 students take assessments online, and lots of great discussions about data. We’re looking forward to continue leveraging the great features in Illuminate to provide more effective support to our local school districts.

What is your favorite Illuminate feature?

Honestly, it’s the people that work there. I’ve been extremely impressed with Customer Support. Folks like Chris Balow Jr., Kallen, Kyle, Stephanie, Michael, and a host of others have been like a second family to me as they’ve been extremely patient answering my questions and providing support. If I had to pick a technical feature though I’d say it’s the Custom Report builder. To be able to quickly add columns of student data from various data sets… that’s pretty cool. I’m looking forward to learning more about the Business Intelligence (BI) tool, I’ve heard great things about that feature.

Anything else you would like to tell us about Calhoun’s use of common assessments and student progress monitoring?

We’re excited about our Fountas and Pinnell reading assessment data. We believe we’ve gotten out of the gate strong this fall already. By creating a Manual Assessment with one rubric question, we’re able to have teachers enter the student reading level and leverage the powerful pre-built reports from Illuminate. Educators have loved this data in the Standard Progress Report as it gives them a solid look at where kids have been thus far.

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