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Meet ODIS! A Smarter Tool for Understanding What Data Can Teach About the Challenges and Barriers Facing School Communities

A screenshot of the ODIS website

Marc Lesser and Nicholas Minar, Ph.D | March 3, 2023

In a previous blog post, NAF’s Research and Tech team discussed plans to build a better data-driven tool that can help education leaders, business partners, philanthropic organizations, and researchers make smarter decisions by evolving more impactful tools than “free and reduced-price lunch.” Unfortunately, while “free-and reduced-price lunch” is a commonly used statistic with a long history of describing socioeconomic need, it does not provide a complete picture of the challenges and barriers facing students in their school communities.

NAF is proud to update progress on the creation of the Open Data Index for Schools, or “ODIS” for short, a free, first-of-its-kind, resource that provides open data on the spectrum of challenges and barriers affecting school communities. The tool synthesizes data on 5 key areas of school community barriers (Economic, Education, Health, Housing, and Crime). It takes publicly available data from verified sources, like the National Center for Education Statistics, the National Center for Health Sciences, and the U.S. Census Bureau to name a few, and makes the identification of gaps and areas of need much more targeted and actionable.

We have continued our partnership with the Marron Institute of Urban Management at New York University to add even more demographic and education data to ODIS. This additional data will help provide a more accurate and nuanced picture of the challenges facing school communities and is a direct result of pilot feedback from educational, business, and non-profit stakeholders.

In addition to our partnership with the Marron Institute, we are also excited to announce that we are working on a new interface and user experience for ODIS that will make it even easier to access and analyze the data points that are most relevant to the needs of each school community. This new interface is also based on pilot work we conducted in 2022, and we are confident that it will provide an even more intuitive way to access and utilize ODIS data. See below for a screenshot of what we have planned in terms of this enhanced user experience.

We are excited to announce that we have built a new microsite for the ODIS tool, where we invite supporters to visit and join our mailing list to get updates and news from the ODIS team and partner with us, the way many in the field already are.

To stay up-to-date on the latest news and announcements from the ODIS team, join us on NAF’s Research & Tech LinkedIn page or join the ODIS mailing list directly on the new microsite.

This post was a collaboration between NAF Research and Tech and the Playground at OpenAI