The rise of big data analytics technology revolutionized operations within countless industries, as organizations gained the ability to develop insight to a previously impossible degree. Since then, the field of predictive analytics has taken this technology even further. And while predictive solutions are not yet as widespread as big data analytics, adoption of the former is accelerating quickly.
The extent of this trend can be seen in the field of education. From elementary schools to universities, educational institutions of all kinds are now leveraging predictive analytics capabilities.
Writing for The Journal, Vasuki Rethinam recently asserted that school district leaders are increasingly embracing predictive analytics tools in their K-12 schools. He explained that these school districts are using advanced analytics tools to develop new, innovative models and tools that can effectively monitor students' performance, enabling teachers and administrators to craft better learning plans.
More specifically, Rethinam indicated that predictive analytics tools are being used to develop early warning indicators for students who are likely to drop out of school by factoring in such information as grades and attendance records. These tools can also help leaders predict whether a particular child will likely graduate or not as early as grade 9. Additionally, schools increasingly use predictive analytics tools to identify and retain the most skilled, effective instructors within a given district.
All of this insight can have a significant impact on decision-making within school districts, Rethinam explained.
"District leaders can use this information to monitor progress of individuals and groups, identify needs and align resources, develop and evaluate intervention programs to assist students and re-allocate resources to address problems and deficiencies more effectively," he wrote. "Change in policy can be based on sound, objective information developed out of analytics."
Considering the budgetary constraints most public school districts face, the ability to distribute resources in the most efficient, effective way possible is a powerful advantage. However, as Rethinam noted, districts must take a number of steps in order to position themselves to take advantage of this technology.
"School districts must have a reasonably well developed data system with several years of data in various areas to form accurate predictions," the writer observed. "Predictive analytics is ubiquitous throughout the business and actuarial industries but as a specialty practice has gotten traction in the education sector only relatively recently."
One way for districts to harness predictive analytics, then, is to partner with third-party firms that specialize in this technology. Alternatively, Rethinam suggested that schools bring data analytics in-house by recruiting talented professionals who can leverage these resources.
This trend is perhaps even more widespread at the university level. The Education Advisory Board recently announced that more than 100 institutions are now part of its Student Success Collaborative. This group utilizes a range of technologies along with best practices to help colleges and universities improve their graduation rates and student retention. Predictive analytics lies at the heart of this effort.
For example, Southern Illinois University was able to improve its student retention rate 3.6 percent by leveraging predictive analytics.
Furthermore, Rethinam noted that many public school districts looking to leverage predictive analytics have partnered with local universities and colleges for this purpose.
Educational organizations are in some ways ideally situated to take advantage of predictive analytics technology, as these institutions inevitably create and have access to robust amounts of information concerning their students. By combining these resources with high-quality predictive analytics tools and best practices, schools of all sizes and levels can improve not only their bottom lines, but also the quality of the learning they provide.