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CASE STUDY

How a state-wide community college system synthesized complex data for better decision-making

THE CHALLENGE

In support of a federal grant to increase STEM employment, a statewide community college system needed to integrate data systems that contained both employment and educational outcomes through a single, unified data warehouse and ensured that performance and outcomes for all students could be tracked comprehensively and consistently.

The major barriers were the lack of standardized data to drive decision making and evaluation pertaining to programs and outcomes, as well as the lack of alignment between fifteen colleges on data-gathering methodologies, systems, tools, workflows, and overall objectives.

THE SOLUTION

fivestar* built a powerful data warehouse that centralized information from multiple sources to streamline decision-making based on specific questions. New schemas were created to thread together workforce and academic data from local, state, and federal sources.

The data warehouse future-proofed the solution by extending the ability for users to introduce new data sources over time. It also incorporated a powerful anonymization engine to safeguard sensitive student information and a view to manage who could access data and the time period for which that data was made available.

Additionally, fivestar* developed a career exploration platform to guide students to relevant programs at specific campuses, and a credit for prior learning platform that centralized portfolio creation and facilitated the evaluation of student experience for credit.

To ensure success, fivestar* coordinated on-site design sessions and collaborated with stakeholders in prototyping and workshopping specific components. A singular steering committee established a standardization of processes and tools to bring consensus across the project.

fivestar* coordinated a disparate community of key stakeholders to align on requirements and solution that would bring about critical data for decision making in a changing political eco-system.

THE TECHNOLOGY

The data warehouse and anonymizer consisted of a stand-alone web application and an operational database hosted in Azure SQL Database, and a data access API through which all DIS applications could interact with DWA data.

BUILT WITH

built with Microsoft .net
application built with angular
Azure DevOps
application built with SQL
fivestar developed a solution for better decision-making

THE IMPACT

The system has provided more accurate and timely data, reduced errors, and lessened the time it takes for prospective students to pinpoint career options and connect with credit and non-credit programs in their area. The individual tools used have helped streamline information access to the public and institutional administrators. The system has also removed the manual data collection and analysis burden from administration to make decision-making and program management more efficient and functional.

THE REPORT

A report released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program shows how Kansas, Massachusetts, and Missouri used data integration to connect students to career opportunities and evaluate the effectiveness of their programs in helping students gain meaningful employment. Technologies developed by fivestar* contributed to the impact of the Massachusetts Round 4 TAACCCT integration project by building a centralized database of student records to streamline decision-making. Through GPSTEM, students, faculty, and administrators can now access data to make informed decisions about program offerings and opportunities in the local labor market. You can read the full report below.

Why a custom solution?

This was a first-of-its-kind project for which no product solution existed. Additionally, the project was grant-funded for a limited time-period, meaning our client could not commit to ongoing licensing fees.

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