I hope everyone had a great fourth of July weekend! Apparently, we have reached the time of the summer for data analysis at Head Start. The self-assessment summaries have been turned in and I have started to review them for themes to use in our goal setting for the upcoming year. Also, our Early Head Start application is due in six and a half weeks, so we have begun work on that. We want to use our data to show the impact Head Start has on students over multiple years to make our case for funding Early Head Start in Buncombe and Madison counties. I have been asked to look at how the educational outcomes of graduating students who have been in the program two years compare to those of graduating four year olds who only completed one year. Assuming the children who spent two years in the program are further along in their skill development by the time they graduate, we can make the argument that the additional years supplied by an Early Head Start expansion will further improve those scores.
Finding the data was more of a process than I anticipated. I first needed to isolate which students from the graduating class had completed two years and which students had only completed one. This led to an interesting journey through ChildPlus, a system used by Head Start providers to monitor student progress.
They have a number of preprogrammed reports, but none of them separate students out the way I wanted. I started with the rollover report from the previous year (a report generated at the end of a year of all the students who are eligible to return the subsequent year), but when I realized how many students drop out or transfer classrooms, it became a tedious process to determine who actually completed the second year. Then I tried to sort out second year students from the 2013-2014 term based on their “participant year,” but it turned out that participant year is a manually inputted number, and a number of students who should have had a participant year of 1 had a 0, which made me concerned that not all the students who were in their second year had a participant year of 2. After running a number of different report and filter combinations I came to the realization that the easiest solution, filter the students from the current year who had completed the previous year, was not something any of the reports could do for me. I could only pull data from one school term at a time, so I could not compare students across term years.
I turned to excel, but after using it to filter the duplicates out of a combined list of all students who completed 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 terms, I decided there must be an easier way to get the data I wanted, so I conceded and gave ChildPlus a call. The customer service person at Child Plus typed up a manual filter that allowed me to pull four year olds from the current term who had a completed status from the previous term (meaning they graduated with two years of Head Start). I was relieved to see the filter matched my excel list so I can continue to use it going back in our data from other years. I spent so much time exploring ChildPlus that I am ready to take on any new data set that I am asked to produce.