While waiting for data files from other divisions within the department, I’ve been able to improve my Excel skills. This is exciting because my experiences with merging and concatenating data were limited to work I’ve done in SPSS and SAS, and this work was for a class project and a past internship. However, I’ve learned from a fellow intern that Excel skills can take you far, as she’s worked for a consulting firm for several years, and relied heavily on her Excel background to complete budget management tasks. So whenever the office gets a little quiet, I practice referencing other datasets and merging them together to build new databases. I suspect that this budding skill will aid in my journey to become more employable after my time at Carolina.
Earlier today, I met with two legislative analysts from the General Assembly, and got a chance to pick their brains about the challenges of presenting their recommendations for proposed public education initiatives in a balanced way. The analysts shared their experiences of legislative members not truly being swayed by the fiscal data when a new initiative was introduced in the past; however, because of the current budget situation, much of their work involves providing fiscal data that disproves the need for public education programs with unfounded or unpublished results.
Last week, I promised I would report some preliminary findings for McREL (the teacher effectiveness study); however, the study is still in the process of being validated, so some of the patterns and trends I have observed have to be validated and double-checked by other pairs of eyes as well.
This week, I’ve been working to build a district and school transformation dataset that will allow me to look more closely at leadership changes and how those changes have impacted capacity-building for schools participating in turnaround. I had mentioned previously that DST was a behemoth of a topic and consequently, would not allow for a sophisticated analysis during my time at DPI; however, while reviewing the work of DPI interns from last year, my research partner (who is also the Excel/consulting wiz) and I developed a manageable topic that borrows information uncovered through the Teacher Working Conditions survey. I’ve also been using Pivot Tables to their maximum capacity while looking at Virtual Public Schools data, to compare student achievement in virtual education to that in the traditional classroom. There are six more weeks left of my internship here at DPI, which means that the research interns have five more weeks to report our findings in the form of a publishable paper. Here’s to meeting deadlines!
Until next week,