Improving Student Success Reporting with a Data Mart
North Orange County Community College District
In 2012, California passed the Student Success Act. The legislation called for specific policy changes to improve educational achievement in the California Community Colleges and make important services more accessible to students, allowing for a greater chance of success. The goal of the Student Success Act is to strengthen the community college system by expanding those structures and programs that work, and realigning resources to improve student performance.
Not only did the Student Success Initiative ask community colleges to implement new services, but it asked them to thoughtfully evaluate those services and provide data to prove they’ve been successful. The data is used by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to create ‘scorecards,’ which are then factored into the determination of a college’s level of student support service funds.
North Orange County Community College District (NOCCCD) realized that this new initiative was going to require a lot of reporting. Having already begun the search for a data warehouse-like environment to do consistent reporting for accreditation, NOCCCD’s Information Services department now needed to figure out how it was going to meet not only their reporting requirements, but the long-term research demands that were coming out of this initiative. They also recognized that they did not have enough staff to run this project themselves.
NOCCCD was already using Evisions Argos to do its reporting. However, after attending an Evisions presentation, it dawned on NOCCCD that there was a whole other area of Evisions they hadn’t tapped into: Professional Services. An ensuing discussion made them aware of the expertise within the Professional Services team. So together they sat down, looked at what NOCCCD wanted to accomplish and crafted a solution that would be best for the district, the researchers, and the staff: a data mart.
A data mart is a focused, fully automated ETL and reporting solution built to answer specific, frequently asked questions, or to address specific needs. In the case of NOCCCD, the data mart was designed to address two reporting needs: 1) Any and all reports tied to the Student Success Initiative, and 2) Whatever reporting information is needed for accreditation. The data mart offers the ability to take information out of Banner®, or other systems, and create reports that will provide the information required by state and federal agencies. It also enables researchers to do longitudinal studies and look at historic data.
The Institutional Research and Planning Department at Fullerton College, one of NOCCCD’s campus locations, envisions using and benefitting from the data mart in three ways: 1) It will provide easy access to the most frequently requested reports, freeing up their time to work on higher-level issues, 2) It’s a source of reliable longitudinal data, and 3) It better equips them to do visualization using current data.
Because the data mart is so focused, report extraction time is minimal. When NOCCCD runs “standard” reports off of its transactional database, it can take at least 20-30 minutes to compile. With the data mart, coupled with a virtual machine environment, the necessary reports now run in mere minutes, if not seconds. NOCCCD and its colleges are also better able to drill down into the Banner tables to get added perspective and improved analysis. The data mart still leverages Argos, which means district and college staff can continue using a system with which they are already familiar and reporting capabilities they already know.
At NOCCCD and its campuses, the data mart is primarily used by two departments: Information Services and Institutional Research and Planning. Both have saved hours collecting, building, and parsing the data, without the need to build and maintain their own SQL environments. The Counseling & Student Development department has also recently begun using the data mart, and Human Resources is expected to begin using it, as well.
Not only has the data mart saved NOCCCD time, but it saved them money as well. The data mart was “pennies on the dollar” compared to some other solutions they considered. And unlike some of those specialized solutions, the data mart did not require a dedicated staff to use, maintain and support it.
NOCCCD expects continued success and on-going savings from the data mart, as it is a solution that will continue to grow and adapt in order to comply with the constantly evolving reporting requirements of the district and its colleges.