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The Alteryx for Good program delivers game-changing benefits of breakthrough data science and analytics software to students, educators and nonprofits by offering free Alteryx Designer licenses to help them achieve their respective goals. A Texas non-profit, The Commit Partnership, took advantage of the AFG program to enable data expertise and community relationships to prepare students for college and future careers. Understanding the importance of education at an early age, Commit aims to ensure students from all socioeconomic backgrounds are provided the equally excellent preparation and opportunities. Taking advantage of the vast amount of publicly available data, Commit creates actionable insights to bridge the achievement gap between students across the state. In just the last few years partnering with Alteryx for Good, Commit has been able to dramatically improve how they use their data, and therefore increase systemic impact as they scale their operations from the North Texas region to across the state.
Describe the business challenge or problem you needed to solve
The Commit Partnership is a data-driven, non-profit focused on improving educational outcomes for students in North Texas. They had the vision to support the education system but had limited resources and employees to execute. Their analytics team had the onerous task of accessing many datasets using the only tool they had available at the time, MS Excel, from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). Gluing together the files took weeks because of the volume and yearly shifts in data structure. It was obvious they needed a different process, one that allowed for standardization and repeatability to spend more time finding insights that impact the students they serve. Commit found exactly that with Alteryx.
Commit qualified for their first free Alteryx for Good license in 2017, followed by additional licenses and assistance to Commit’s Analytics team through Alteryx for Good volunteers. Since then, Alteryx has revolutionized the way their Analytics team operates, allowing them to access new data and dramatically increasing the organization’s overall systemic influence.
Describe your working solution
In a specific instance prior to Alteryx, the analytics team faced an impossible task: accessing Texas Education Agency (TEA) data with 20 million records, team members were not actually able to open the data file with existing tools. This data included ALL the tests taken in Texas over the past 6 years broken down by individual student, test taken, date, as well as the student’s race/ethnicity, economic status, school district, and campus-- just to name a few variables. As one could imagine, this was a lot of data and Commit didn’t have the tools to perform day-to-day functions. Alteryx gave them access to the data to begin pulling out insights to support student outcomes.
When Marie Appel, a senior manager at Commit started, “She realized the numbers produced were not always produced in the same way and varied by each person doing analysis. Every time we had a request to provide numbers, we would need to rename, standardize, and repopulate our data. It took time to prep data for each school district with limited time to do something about it.”
During their first day using Alteryx, the team at Commit was able to automate a process after just a few hours, something that normally took 4 hours per week. Fast forward a few months, Commit was using Alteryx to automate workflows for several of their key processes, saving “hundreds of hours of effort!” The raw data on test scores, student demographics, and school districts is being translated into meaningful, publicly available Tableau dashboards which are being used to analyze student education scores and shape education policy across Texas.
With Alteryx, their work is now more effective than ever. They have much more time to work directly with superintendents and governments to make changes. Interactive dashboards showcase reading and math levels, high school graduation rates, and college enrollment broken out by county, school district, or race. They look closely at ‘the achievement gap’ at all grade levels, but specifically at 3rd grade reading levels, as this is a strong indicator of student success. There is a stark difference in achievement gap for white and non-white students, something they are working to reduce. From their insights, a legislator is provided a breakdown of their district and opportunities for improvement. An Alteryx workflow allows them to create this breakdown for each legislator across the entire state, in a few hours. This makes the data more meaningful and personal to them.
Commit is just scratching the surface, but they are starting to see how their influence and work with their 200+ partners has reduced achievement gaps across the state, in some places by over twenty percent in just a few years. This is what the organization set out to accomplish and Alteryx has enabled them to spend less time on data and more time focusing on the community.”
Describe the benefits you have achieved
In collaboration with Alteryx for Good, the Commit Partnership has been able to more effectively and efficiently fulfill its mission. They are making a real difference to positively shape the lives of students, and because of Alteryx, they are starting to scale our operations across Texas and work with other states to develop a similar model.
Both Commit and its analytics team are excited about their future with Alteryx and the developments it will bring. So much of Commit’s progress would not have been possible without the hard work of the amazing AFG volunteers. To share your expertise as an Alteryx for Good ambassador, or to apply for a free Designer license for your nonprofit, visit: www.alteryx.com/forgood. Together with Alteryx, their organization has been able to achieve the following results:
Eliminating the need for new employees
Since their analytics team did not have the technological capabilities to access the data, Commit was considering hiring a new full-time employee whose main responsibility would be trying to unlock this data. However, they’ve been able to use Alteryx to access, prep, and analyze the data--all in under 3 hours! Alteryx eliminated the need for a new full-time employee in just a few hours. This feat is especially important for a non-profit like Commit, as it allows the organization to allocate the funds that would have gone to a new salaried position to better fulfill its mission.
Using predictive analytics
Alteryx, along with the help of the AFG volunteers, also opened new analytical doors for Commit, they are using the TEA data to run predictive analyses. Now Commit can use its data to better predict student academic performance to help impact student outcomes.
Analyzing data for all of Texas
Alteryx truly changed Commit by empowering the organization to analyze state-level data. For example, Commit is currently working to create custom education reports for state representatives and senators based on their respective districts. A project like this one would have been previously unimaginable for Commit, since such data is too large for Excel to process. In fact, even if Commit could access the data, it would take between one to two weeks for an analytics team member to complete a personalized report. With 181 seats in the Texas legislature, a report for every member would take a team member at least 3.5 years to complete. However, with Alteryx, Commit can access and analyze the necessary information to create these impactful reports which could, and has, influenced state senate bills that allocated more money to education.