Technical solutions for managing data in the education sector
Working with VVOB Rwanda to track and visualize data, and support data driven decision-making in education
As part of VVOB’s ‘Leading Teaching and Learning Together’ joint initiative with the Rwanda Basic Education Board (REB), University of Rwanda College of Education and Ministry of Education, VVOB provides Continuous Professional Development (CPD) training courses to teachers and school leaders. The initiative aims to improve teacher training and student outcomes. VVOB engaged Laterite to help create solutions to two challenges in the delivery of the ‘Leading Teaching and Learning Together’ initiative.
The first challenge was managing the data produced from assessments of the CPD training courses. VVOB delivers assessments on the reach and effectiveness of the CPD training courses. The data produced from these assessments is used to assess the impact of the CPD training. This means that managing the data from these assessments is an integral part of effective program management and learning. VVOB engaged Laterite to ensure that data from this initiative can be managed in a way that allows for reliable tracking, analysis and communication of the effectiveness of the CPD training programs.
The second challenge was improving the School Improvement Plan development process for schools taking part in the initiative. Within VVOB’s CPD programs, VVOB trains school leaders on how to develop an effective School Improvement Plan (SIP). A SIP is a manual for outlining and monitoring the current state of student performance, setting key priorities and developing an action plan for improvement. Previously, school leaders used a physical form, developed by REB, to develop their SIPs. This manual process was time consuming, and required a lot of coordination across teachers and school leaders to ensure the form was completed accurately. In addition, the form was not an efficient tool for data driven decision-making.
Laterite was tasked with digitizing the REB SIP form into an excel spreadsheet. Excel was chosen as the software of choice because school leaders are familiar with it, and its features make it suitable for developing a user-friendly SIP for school leaders.
To effectively manage data from CPD training courses, we created a data ecosystem that provides a template for each step of the data life cycle. This includes conventions for digitizing surveys, cleaning datasets for analysis or publication, and for disseminating results to stakeholders. To do this, Laterite digitized existing surveys developed by VVOB, coded cleaning scripts and cleaning templates, created data storage conventions, and drafted a dashboard in PowerBI for results dissemination.
To create a digital version of the SIP manual, we developed an Excel tool with two components that school leaders can use to continuously develop and revise their SIP: a data collection template and a log frame.
The data template is a set of sheets in which different types of ‘school performance’ data can be entered. This includes teacher qualifications, student population by grade, school infrastructure, and average examination results. We also included input restrictions to make sure that school leaders do not accidently input inconsistent data as is more common with handwritten forms (e.g. total number of students passing cannot be greater than number of students enrolled). These data were linked to a dashboard to visualize the school’s strengths and weaknesses across grades or year on year, through a macro that automatically refreshes the dashboard when new data is entered. The graphs produced in the dashboard help visualize areas of strength and weaknesses in school performance, and can be used for data driven decision-making. The log frame is another set of sheets guiding the user through the development of an action plan.
Laterite worked closely with VVOB to develop a CPD program evaluation dashboard in PowerBI to publish results that met the needs of stakeholders and end users. We used flexible but open source software such as Kobo Toolbox and R to manage the data collection, cleaning and analysis processes; and developed guidelines for VVOB staff on how to use the software tools. VVOB has now begun using the ecosystem, adapting it as needed, and will soon begin the process of transferring the system to government stakeholders.
After multiple feedback rounds and pilot testing led by VVOB, Laterite developed a ready-to-use SIP Excel tool which automates data entry and visualization. The tool is password-protected and users can only edit cells that explicitly require their input.
In addition, Laterite conducted training sessions for VVOB on the most technically challenging components of the tools. VVOB and REB are now able to roll out the implementation of the SIP tool and overarching data ecosystem in the context of their CPD programs.