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Disrupting the Divide: The Role of Technology in Mitigating the Impact of Data Fragmentation on Students

Hailly T.N. Korman
Justin Trinidad

Fcover of Bellwether slide deck "Disrupting the Divide: The Role of Technology in Mitigating the Impact of Data Fragmentation on Students," July 2018ar too often, individuals and organizations serving students who have experienced disruptions to their education operate in siloes. These agencies and individuals — and the young people experiencing those disruptions themselves — all carry different pieces of information without a good way to share data quickly and securely. One organization may be aware of the student’s attendance records, another may be aware of the student’s past foster care experience, and yet another may know what mental health supports the student needs.

How can these multiple systems and services effectively serve young people experiencing homelessness, foster care placement, incarceration, or unmet mental or physical health needs?

Based on input from youth, data strategists from school districts, data scientists and engineers, application developers, data advocates, nonprofit organizations, and state board of education staff, “Disrupting the Divide” describes an aspirational model tool nicknamed ContinuityCounts Services. This model tool centers on three “personas” — the student, the student’s advocate, and the jurisdictions between which the student is transitioning — to describe a resource that could harness both new and proven technologies to:

  • Streamline access to student records for the right people,

  • Guide and streamline access to support services and interventions, and

  • Empower students to advocate for themselves.

This tool is not the only version of a technology intervention that would meet these needs, but it provides a concrete illustration of an online data-sharing platform that is both inspirational and grounded in the tangible and practical. In addition, “Disrupting the Divide” presents important considerations for any leader who is thinking about implementing this kind of technology solution.

As state education agencies and their chief information officers evaluate their current practices and innovate for the future, we hope they will include these approaches. We also hope that as advocates, community organizations, and other state agencies plan new approaches to cross-system coordination, they may find a shared vision in this report and model tool.

Download the full report here or read it in the viewer below.