Hattiesburg Public School: A lens to see who the student really is

Tableau: How does data analysis make a difference for students?
Dr. Robert Williams, Principal N.R. Burger Middle School: One of the key things as a middle school or being a middle school principal, you often have feeder schools that feed into your school. And at N.R. Burger Middle School, we have six elementary schools that feed into N.R. Burger Middle School. At the beginning of the school year, it is very rare that a principal would know or have knowledge of any of the new students.

I had opportunity this year to encounter a student twice on the first two days of school. And both of their experiences tended to not be on the positive side.

In the past, I would have gotten onto the child, question him, or would have proceeded to do some type of disciplinary action. Through use of Tableau, I was able to pull up the Tableau dashboard online and look at a student profile sheet. And from the student profile sheet, I was able to gather some information. That information did not match the behavior that I was observing from the student. I actually contacted the parent and she said, "Well, Dr. Williams, the student this summer had someone put a gun up to his head. So he's been real disconnected."

So immediately, I was able to connect this student with some services and now that student is our student of the month. We're able to get him connected to the classroom again. So Tableau was very pivotal in that information because it provided us with a data profile of the student and his previous five years in our school district—and it gave me a lens into what I was observing and how it is not actually the student that he is.

I'm very excited about the opportunities Tableau brings not only our school and our school district, but our staff and our students that enables us to make timely, effective decisions to truly move from notebooks and numbers to actual data and decisions.

Bringing real data into the classroom

Tableau: How has data been handled in education in the past?
Robert: Often in education, we keep student information in folders, notebooks, that are often located in your office. However, we do not operate schools from our offices. Learning takes place in the classrooms.

Through the use of Tableau, we're able to bring multiple data sets and live data into the classroom from the administrator's standpoint of students.

With Tableau, you're able to carry that information within a secure setting, which is located on the mobile device or the PC or the Mac. And it is user name and password protected. Once we're through with the information, you just simply log off.

Tableau: Why is this important?
Robert: The mission of N.R. Burger Middle School is to educate all students to become academically proficient and socially responsible.

We're using Tableau to make sure that we are actually fulfilling our mission on the day-to-day basis, making sure we're checking and tracking academic proficiency and the responsibility by students as it relates to attendance as well as academics.

Tableau: Does anyone use the data besides teachers?
Robert: We do share the information I shared with our guidance department so that they can create and design and focus their work on meeting the needs of students. We share our attendance data, attendance trends, with our attendance clerk as well as our attendance officers to make sure that we are working with our students as it relates to attendance.

But also we share the information with parents so that parents can have a linear message with their students and their child—so that we can all come together and work and make sound decisions for students.

Tableau: How do you feel overall about doing data analysis with Tableau?
Robert: I am just very excited about the opportunities that Tableau brings not only our school, our school district, but also to our staff and our students. It enables us to make timely, effective decisions to truly move from notebooks and numbers to actual data and decisions.

Tableau: What devices do you use to access Tableau?
Robert: We use PC, Macs, and we are able to pull it up on my iPad. So those are three of the key devices that I use.

The mobile apps were very interesting to me. Being able to manipulate the data sets from the mobile device and improving the user friendliness of the mobile applications. Oftentimes, if you're focusing on intensive work with multiple data sets, you tend to have a lot of paper, a lot of binders, a lot of notebooks that are just in the conference room that you have multiple eyes upon.