Aligned Impact Muscatine County holds Data Day

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–To help all students succeed in school and find fulfilling careers to support them, Aligned Impact Muscatine County works with numerous organizations from across the county to best serve children. Through working with Muscatine, West Liberty, and Wilton Community School Districts; the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency; and the National Student Clearinghouse, the group receives large quantities of anonymous, aggregated data to help them understand graduation rates, post secondary enrollment rates, and other education and career related data. In an effort to share the trends they have seen and help all of the organizations they work with better meet the needs of today’s learners, Aligned Impact Muscatine County held Data Day Oct. 7.

Throughout the morning, 45 attendees from various partner organizations listened to different speakers from Aligned Impact Muscatine County to learn about trends they had discovered exploring graduation rates and employment information available for Muscatine County. A final presentation highlighted Aligned Impact Muscatine County’s new fully online shared data system.

In what Aligned Impact Muscatine County Director Kim Warren described as a, “cradle to career,” approach, Aligned Impact Muscatine County works to improve educational outcomes in the county by encouraging high quality childcare options, promoting support services at school, and supporting career and higher education counseling. Each speaker highlighted one of these areas and illuminated the data relevant to it.

Kim Warren presenting to several of Aligned Impact Muscatine County’s community partners during their Data Day event. Photo by Margaret Hurlbert.

Warren led a session herself, looking at how Muscatine Community School District’s Summer Program for Arts, Recreation, and Knowledge, or S. P. A. R. K., and the school year enrichment program Aligned Impact Muscatine County piloted at Franklin and Jefferson helped improve students engagement at school and improved their literacy and other skills. “Some of the key takeaways were that when kids are engaged with hands on learning with community partners, they are more engaged and excited to come to school, and all of that leads to better academic proficiency.”

Whitney Howell discussed changes in availability of childcare slots and how the growth in the number of slots over the past several years has provided more options to working families. Claudia Artola examined graduation data and how approximately one out of every five students who intends to pursue higher education does not. Artola also explored how the Summer Melt Program, now in its second year, provides assistance to students wanting to pursue higher education giving them additional help obtaining financial aid, selecting a major, and preparing for a major life transition. United Way of Muscatine Director Shane Orr took on the complex topic of assisting adults. Looking at asset limited, income constrained, employed, or ALICE data and census data, along with individual cases from partner organizations, to determine challenges people face and the ways organizations can work to solve them.

A new way to bring organizations together to understand data collected on many populations in Muscatine and to learn how to utilize the shared data system, Warren found the event beneficial and also a way to bring community partners together in person after two years of social distancing. “We’re trying to implement the countywide data system, and because of COVID, we realized no one had come together to see the data,” she said. “It feels really great to have everyone together.”

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