Mobile County Public Schools video transcript
IBM Smarter Planet Leadership Series Customer Reference
Mobile County Public Schools
Interviewee: David K. Akridge, Chief Information Officer
TEXT: SMART IS... raising graduation rates through data warehousing.
Mobile County Public Schools is the largest school district in Alabama
Administering the education of more than 63,000 students in 95 schools
For ten cities whose poverty rate exceeds the state average
David K. Akridge: You know when my father came up, a high school diploma was enough, now
it’s the masters and the doctorate that separates people.
In Mobile County, it’s documented that our dropout rate is around 45%-46%. That’s almost one
out of every two students that’s going to drop out. You are looking at 17,000 high school
students. How do you find out of that 17,000, which kids are at risk? Which ones are not going
to finish high schools? Which ones are not going to go on to college?
The turning point in Mobile understanding how a data warehouse could really benefit Mobile
County was a trip that our board members took to a large school district, saw their in-house data
warehouse that they had that they were collecting test scores and student information and how
readily available it was.
Before we even began the data warehouse, IBM Global Business Services did a research case
study for us. They went and pulled our data to look at what things look like, what types of data
elements that we were going to need to gather, and did a cost analysis on what they thought it
would cost. IBM partner DecisionEd came in to look at where we were and what we needed to
do. They were literally able in two weeks to do what another vendor couldn’t do in two years.
The data warehouse solution for us gives us the ability to look at what students are at risk; it gives
us the ability to look at how attendance is affecting our curriculum; it gives us the ability to look at
groups of teachers, groups of schools, and it gives us the ability to drill down to individual
The principal walks the halls and they see students all the time. But if they can know that I’ve
seen a report of this student at risk, I can give encouragement, I can talk to the student, "Hey, do
you need help? Is there anything I can do?" We see the data warehouse helping our principals
reach out more to parents to get them to understand the problems that they are facing and how
they can come up with the solution.
Every time I ran the data and would give it out to somebody, I could see the story that it was
telling. I mean it was jumping off the page. We know from looking at several indicators that over
the last couple of years, we have dropped 3% in that dropout rate. Alabama Reading and Math
Assessments for all grade levels are making great curves and moving up
And it’s almost that exponential jump over what we were four or five years ago, and that’s
exciting. That gives this principal the power to say, "I can make a better student, make a better
school, make a better district."
TEXT: The Mobile County Public Schools solution is based on:
IBM® Cognos® 8 Business Intelligence 8.4
DecisionEd Group Performance Management XJ1 Data Warehouse
IBM Global Business Services® : Business Analytics and Optimization
DecisionEd Group — Installation, Data Loading, Reporting and Deployment
IBM Business Partner:
Because of a nearly 50 percent drop-out rate, Mobile County created a business intelligence system to help at-risk students stay in school.
- Instrumented: System-wide data, from the latest test scores to disciplinary actions, is updated in real-time, enabling Mobile County staff to identify problems early.
- Interconnected: Mobile County’s centralized data warehouse provides administrators up-to-the-minute status on aggregate performance measures and school-to-school comparisons
- Intelligent: Flexible business rules enable Mobile County to create early-warning triggers that notify administrators when students become "at-risk"