Creating an Integrated Resource Information System
Under a grant recently funded by the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences (IES) the IRIS project is creating an integrated resource information system (IRIS) for the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) that will enable leaders, board members, and teachers to:
- Assess student, teacher, classroom, and school effects on value- added student learning gains; and
- Connect resources at the school, classroom, and student levels to effectiveness in improving student learning.
IRIS will provide the kind of micro-detail currently not available in any standard state or district data system. It will allow MPS to determine in a systematic way "what works" in the Milwaukee education system in terms of factors related to students (e.g., tutoring, courses), classrooms (e.g., instructional quality, teacher content knowledge, content taught, class size), and schools (e.g., size, extent of professional community, use of instructional coaches, resources dedicated to instructional improvement). This goal can be achieved by using statistical modeling techniques to identify factors that have an impact on student learning gains, holding a variety of other factors constant at various levels of the education system.
Using IRIS, MPS will have the ability to collect the kind of data needed for "what works" analyses, such as:
- Uses of resources by educational strategy at the school level;
- Provision of professional development resources at the district and school levels;
- Teachers' instructional practices and measures of the content that teachers actually teach; and
- School-level factors such as the degree of professional community, instructional leadership.
The long-term objective of IRIS is not only to modify the MPS budgeting system so it is more effectively linked to outcomes and cost- effectiveness, but also to make it possible to evaluate district resource use initiatives through a link to student learning gains. IRIS can become a prototype for other districts—as well as states—looking to redesign their data systems to support data-driven strategies for improving student achievement.