Nashville Promise Neighborhood is a revolutionary strategy to improve schools and communities.

Promise Neighborhood shares student data with nonprofits to improve help for kids

4/12/2013

Nonprofit groups charged with protecting Nashville students’ educational lives will have a new tool to do that — software that accesses information about school grades, attendance and discipline.

The Nashville Promise Neighborhood, a program in the Stratford High cluster funded with a $500,000 U.S. Department of Education Grant, announced this week an information-sharing agreement with Metro Nashville Public Schools.

The school district keeps a real-time, state-of-the-art data warehouse in order to track student progress and spot issues that could be interfering with performance. Now nonprofit mentoring, health and other outside groups will have access to some of that data — but only with parental permission — in order to judge their effectiveness and provide individualized help to students.

“The goal is to improve whatever outcomes around children that they can,” said Laura Hansen, Metro Schools’ director of information management and decision support and a Promise Neighborhood committee co-chair. “When students don’t come prepared and ready to learn, the school district has trouble teaching them. They’re not going to receive instruction in ways that students who don’t have these challenges experience it.

“Really, without information on students, (agencies) are oftentimes flying blind. Without feedback and communication, it’s very hard to target their services.”

The idea behind the Nashville Promise Neighborhood partnerships, led by the nonprofit Martha O’Bryan Center, is to gather organizations that can help 6,000 East Nashville children from birth to post-secondary school to the job market.

The goal is to have all those children performing on grade level, without need for remedial classes, said Robin Veenstra-VanderWeele, Promise Neighborhood director. Sharing data will help partners see the scope of the need and whether their programs are having an impact.

“The burden of data-sharing on a principal or teacher — when there isn’t a technical solution — is overwhelming.,” Veenstra-VanderWeele said. “Nobody is going to partner if they have to pull all that data. Frankly, they are quite busy teaching.”

Promise Neighborhood partners include the city, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Metropolitan Development and Housing Authority, Vanderbilt University, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Alignment Nashville, United Way of Metropolitan Nashville, Oasis Center, Margaret Maddox Family YMCA, Division of General Pediatrics at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, Metro Police Department, United Neighborhood Health Services, Centennial Pediatrics, Tennessee College Access and Success Network, Family and Children’s Services, Communities in Schools, Stand for Children, Community Food Advocates, Nashville Children’s Theater and Nashville Film Festival.

 

Contact Heidi Hall at 615-726-5977 or hhall@tennessean.com, or follow her on Twitter @HeidiHallTN.Kent Miller works with John Bosco Ndayisaba at Top Floor