City Spotlight: Nashville Uses Data to Improve Afterschool Programs
Mayor Karl Dean of Nashville, Tenn. recognizes the importance of education to his city’s future and knows that learning cannot stop when the bell rings at the end of the school day. In an effort to close the achievement gap and increase the high school graduation rate in his city, Mayor Dean launched the Nashville After Zone Alliance (NAZA) in 2010. This high-quality afterschool program network serves middle school students (grades 5-8) as an expanded learning system. Middle school performance is a key indicator of high school success, and NAZA aims to keep higher risk students engaged by nurturing a passion for learning and adequately preparing them for the rigors of high school. In the 2012-2013 school year NAZA served 859 middle school students.
Since its inception, NAZA has evolved into a robust public-private partnership that owes much of its success to the use of an effective management information system (MIS). NAZA has focused its energy on building an infrastructure to support high quality afterschool programs and has established a citywide MIS that tracks the city’s afterschool enrollment and participation and facilitates analysis of the effectiveness of afterschool programs on student achievement.
NAZA’s citywide MIS is built from three elements, two of them hosted by the Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) and the third developed by the Information Technology Services Department of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville (Metro ITS). These elements include:
- The MNPS student unit record system, which generates rosters for each afterschool program offered through NAZA;
- The NAZA data system, developed and maintained by Metro ITS, where program staff log student participation; and
- The MNPS data warehouse, the school district’s data warehouse receives streams of information from the student unit record system and from the NAZA database and uses both for reporting and analysis.
Nashville schools that coordinate with NAZA have reported increased participation in afterschool tutoring. Additionally, rates within the areas of youth engagement and positive peer interaction have increased, according to program quality measurements. NAZA’s focus on data management and data sharing, and the partnership and support of the Metro Nashville Public Schools has helped make Nashville’s coordinated system of afterschool programming a paradigm for other cities.