Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta ensures student success with data



The Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta provides education to 56 primary schools, 22 secondary schools, and four learning centers in western Sydney. The diocese collects data on socioeconomic and demographic profiles, course performance, and operations—but they didn’t have the tools to extract insights from this data—until Tableau.

The Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta serves over 45,000 students and nearly 5,000 staff. In education, data is crucial to gauging student success and keeping standards high.

Chief Information Officer, Raju Varanasi, shares how Tableau allows principals all over Australia to dive into their data. With Tableau Desktop, they can benchmark comprehension against nearby schools and track student progress.

Also, principals have permissions to add local data sets to Tableau Server, enriching insights and establishing a single source of truth.


Investing in student learning

Tableau: What is the value of data in the education sector?
Raju Varanasi, Chief Information Officer: We exist for students' learning. And we want to see that whatever we invest both time, effort, resources, facilities, give utmost value to the students' learning.

Data in education, as in many other industries and sectors, is very valuable to inform the efficacy, the effectiveness, and the overall improvement that can happen. And it can also give opportunity to correct or intervene, as we say in education, in time so that the students get the best and achieve their utmost potential.

Tableau: What were some of the challenges before Tableau?
Raju: In the past, probably because of the lack of tools or lack of other opportunities, we could not triangulate the true value of data

In the past...we could not triangulate the true value of data. There is now more opportunity thanks to Tableau, and the likes of Tableau analytics have done magic for us. And although we're in the first part of the journey, we can already see tremendous value.

Tableau: How has that changed now that CEDP has Tableau?
Raju: There is now more opportunity, thanks to Tableau and the likes of Tableau analytics have done magic for us. And although we're in the first part of the journey, we can already see tremendous value.

Tableau: What kind of data do you analyze in Tableau?
Raju: Obviously, in the course of teaching, learning, schooling, we generate a lot of data. And the data could be socioeconomic, demographic, performance of course, and then resources and operations and so on and so forth.

For example, we know the geography demography of our students and then we know their performance and the socioeconomic status and their extracurricular activities.

Tableau: How has Tableau changed the way that you analyze that data?
Raju: So what's exciting is that we are able to turn around that very data that is collected through our systems, but has been a sleeper in the process or at least very hard or clumsy to modify and curate and compile. Now, we're able to provide in a more valuable form. And that's why they're excited.

From reactive to proactive

Tableau: What are some of your goals as Chief Information Officer?
Raju: As CIO, I would like to make sure that data actually sees the light of day and that it actually improves or contributes to improvement of learning.

Because if used proactively, it can improve the student's learning—because no one gets time back, especially those formative years. When a kid is, say, six months behind in reading or 12 months behind in mathematics or numeracy, we are talking about valuable time. Principals in Australia, Principals and teachers have the most significant in students' learning.

They're asking questions about students, teachers, resources, dollars, progress. So all this comes from various angles, but we develop this excellence framework to encapsulate most of the questions the schools would ask.

If used proactively, data can improve the student's learning—because no one gets time back, especially those formative years. When a kid is say, six months behind in reading or 12 months behind in mathematics or numeracy, we are talking about valuable time.

Tableau: What are some questions that principals ask of the data?
Raju: Which students are behind? How is my school doing compared to other schools? Am I above the state benchmarks or international benchmarks? How are my students growing in terms of their reading, writing, spelling, and comprehension.

Tableau: How do you manage permissions in Tableau Server? How do you serve data to principals?
Raju: And then we allow the principals to be publishers with certain rights so that they can add local data sets. And instead of giving them a blank canvas, we are giving them a half-filled or 70-, 80-percent-filled canvas so that they can use the initial momentum that we're giving to add. And then they will enrich the insights and the actions.

Tableau: What advice would you give other CIO’s in the education sector?
Raju: What I would advise to other CIOs in comparable situations in education is to open up, extract value, share, build the opportunity for those service delivery process in schools, classrooms, for them to dissect the data and use it for teacher and students' learning.

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