Emmile Brack leads the IT department at Aspire Public Schools, a nonprofit organization that manages 34 public charter schools throughout California. The system serves 12,000 mostly low-income students in kindergarten through 12th grade, and its goal is to get all graduating seniors accepted into four-year colleges. Brack is Aspire's vice president of technology. She says her department's task is to make sure Aspire's 1,500 employees and its students have the technology needed to transform the students' educational experiences. Brack says one way her team is meeting this goal is by deploying analytics tools. Here she talks about the lessons she has learned from that project.
What's the next step in your career? "I definitely want to continue working in education. That's where I want to be. My next step is probably a COO role, where I can have a broader view of the organization."
What accomplishment are you most proud of? "I'm most proud of the fact that I made the switch to a nonprofit and, specifically, education. Being brought into the mission of the work and the impact that organizations like Aspire have -- that's extremely fulfilling."
What's the best advice you've ever received? "Be your own advocate."
Hobbies: "I love board games and puzzles, and I do them whenever I can."
What did your organization want to achieve with the analytics deployment? The main reason for wanting to deploy analytics software was to save time for our teachers, principals and other teammates. We did a needs assessment and gathered that quite a bit of time was being spent by teammates crunching numbers or gathering data to see how students were performing. That was extremely time-consuming and did not leave a lot of time to gather insights from that data analysis or to develop a plan of action to fix the issues.
Did the deployment achieve your goals? We've accomplished a lot with Tableau [analytics software], but there are areas where we want to use Tableau more in order to achieve that big goal around saving teammates time. We've rolled out reports and dashboards that have greatly improved efficiency around analysis and allowed our teachers and principals to spend more time on the insight and planning pieces. But there's still room and work for us to do around achieving that big goal.
What has been the biggest benefit with this analytics deployment? The ability to display and show longitude data on a specific student or on a specific school's performance. We take what we call the CSTs -- the standardized tests that all students have to take -- and we've been able to use Tableau to visualize trends and the performance of individual students and teachers, and schools as a whole and as an organization year over year. It's improving the ability for our teachers and principals to be more effective in their work. We could have done it without Tableau, but for a teacher or principal to do that, it would have been an enormous task.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.