Off the Assembly Line

Making School Data Meaningful with Angie Eilers, CEO and Co-Founder of UR Turn

October 13, 2019 Rebecca Reed Episode 3
Off the Assembly Line
Making School Data Meaningful with Angie Eilers, CEO and Co-Founder of UR Turn
Chapters
0:00
Intro to episode
1:03
Angie's origin story
5:17
The power of research
7:03
The inspiration for UR Turn and the data-knowledge gap
10:46
What does UR Turn look like in action?
14:52
When edtech is done right, it empowers educators
21:04
How UR Turn is impacting student self-efficacy and agency
28:03
How delivering data meaningfully can solve systemic challenges in the school system
31:42
For UR Turn, the future is built on partnerships
33:54
What's the greatest data misconception you want to clear up?
37:33
What does a healthy relationship with school data look like?
40:23
Who are you giving an A to Angie?
43:02
Connect with Angie and UR Turn
Off the Assembly Line
Making School Data Meaningful with Angie Eilers, CEO and Co-Founder of UR Turn
Oct 13, 2019 Episode 3
Rebecca Reed

What do we do with all this data? In the last 20 years we've experienced a data revolution in K-12 education, but for most educators and parents, it's felt more like a deluge. When Angie Eilers found herself struggling to draw real insights from the complex data in her children's school reports, she knew she couldn't be the only one. And with a background in research, she knew a solution that translated complex data to actionable insights would be game changing for both educators and students. On this episode, Angie shares the founding story of UR Turn, an app that helps students take control of their educational journey, and we discuss what we can do to make data meaningful for students.

Connect with Angie and UR Turn:

Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

Website: https://www.urturn.org/

Episode Chapter Guide:
0.00 - Intro to the episode
1:03 - Angie's origin story
5:17 - The power of research
7:03 - The inspiration for UR Turn and data-knowledge gap
10:46 - What does UR Turn look like in action?
14:52 - When edtech is done right, it empowers educators
21:04 - How UR Turn is impacting student self-efficacy and agency
28:03 - How delivering data meaningfully can solve systemic challenges in the school system
31:42 - For UR Turn, the future is built partnerships
33:54 - What's the greatest data misconception you want to clear up?
37:33 - What does a healthy relationship with school data look like?
40:23 - Who are you giving an A to Angie?
43:02 - Get connected with Angie and UR Turn

If you liked what you heard, rate and review Off the Assembly Line

You can find more show details and resources at offtheassemblyline.co and connect with Rebecca on LinkedIn or at rebeccaareed.com.

Learn more about the Teacher Mastermind at http://teachermastermind.com

Follow Off the Assembly Line
twitter @offassemblyline
instagram @offtheassemblyline_podcast
facebook @offtheassemblylinepodcast.

Special thanks to Scott Holmes for our intro music. You can check out more from him at https://scottholmesmusic.com/

Thanks for listening to Off the Assembly Line. Share it with someone who needs to hear it and then go make a ruckus!

Support the show (https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=7A6ET6FCSJ86N&source=url)

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

What do we do with all this data? In the last 20 years we've experienced a data revolution in K-12 education, but for most educators and parents, it's felt more like a deluge. When Angie Eilers found herself struggling to draw real insights from the complex data in her children's school reports, she knew she couldn't be the only one. And with a background in research, she knew a solution that translated complex data to actionable insights would be game changing for both educators and students. On this episode, Angie shares the founding story of UR Turn, an app that helps students take control of their educational journey, and we discuss what we can do to make data meaningful for students.

Connect with Angie and UR Turn:

Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

Website: https://www.urturn.org/

Episode Chapter Guide:
0.00 - Intro to the episode
1:03 - Angie's origin story
5:17 - The power of research
7:03 - The inspiration for UR Turn and data-knowledge gap
10:46 - What does UR Turn look like in action?
14:52 - When edtech is done right, it empowers educators
21:04 - How UR Turn is impacting student self-efficacy and agency
28:03 - How delivering data meaningfully can solve systemic challenges in the school system
31:42 - For UR Turn, the future is built partnerships
33:54 - What's the greatest data misconception you want to clear up?
37:33 - What does a healthy relationship with school data look like?
40:23 - Who are you giving an A to Angie?
43:02 - Get connected with Angie and UR Turn

If you liked what you heard, rate and review Off the Assembly Line

You can find more show details and resources at offtheassemblyline.co and connect with Rebecca on LinkedIn or at rebeccaareed.com.

Learn more about the Teacher Mastermind at http://teachermastermind.com

Follow Off the Assembly Line
twitter @offassemblyline
instagram @offtheassemblyline_podcast
facebook @offtheassemblylinepodcast.

Special thanks to Scott Holmes for our intro music. You can check out more from him at https://scottholmesmusic.com/

Thanks for listening to Off the Assembly Line. Share it with someone who needs to hear it and then go make a ruckus!

Support the show (https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=7A6ET6FCSJ86N&source=url)

Speaker 1:

Welcome to this week's episode of off the assembly line. I'm your host, Rebecca Reed, and every week I sit down for possibility sparking conversation with innovative educators and entrepreneurs who are bringing the future to education. One beautiful disruption at a time. What do we do with all this data? In the last 20 years, we've experienced a data revolution in K-12 education, but for most educators and parents, it's felt more like a day lose . On today's episode, I'm excited to be talking with Angie Eilers, CEO and founder of your turn in app that helps students develop their own educational roadmap and see exactly what they need to do to get to where they want to go. Angie and I talk about what we can do to make school data meaningful and how to use it to empower students.

Speaker 2:

Angie , so glad to have you on the show. Thanks for having me, Rebecca. Absolutely. Really excited to get into our conversation here. So 30 years ago, you and your husband traveled through central America in a 1972 Volkswagen bus, which may or may not be one of my dreams by the way. And you said you both found your professional callings as a result of that trip. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for hearkening back to that tie , which was , um, you know, like I said, we were, you know, 30 years ago we were 25 year olds and post-college. And I think you, you know, we all kind of relate to the mid twenties like what's it all about? What am I doing, what should I do and are , you know, we had a soft spot in our heart for understanding our neighbors to the South and central America and felt like it was easily within reach. We could just drive there so that we did and we had an amazing immersive 12 month journey living out of the van, traveling out of the van, but really getting into the communities and into people's homes and into each other's hearts. It was such a beautiful time. But I gotta tell you what our real takeaway was, is that he and I were both very interested in economic development. We weren't entirely sure what that meant, but I had done a stint at the agency for international development in Washington DC and he had done a stint at the state department as a junior foreign service officer. We met in Washington D C but we realized that, you know , part of international development and economic development. What did that really mean? Um , it didn't mean Americans just rent checks or doing things for other people. We knew it meant empowerment and people owning helped me having a stake in their own lives in their own countries so that other countries don't take over and exploit them. So , um, and we were fairly fluent in Spanish. Um, we got hired, it was a fantastic opportunity in Guatemala by two American researchers. One was a linguist and one was an educator and they were doing a qualitative study on the Mayan Indians in the Highlands of Guatemala on their educational dropout rates and train exam . And why are these students dropping out of school so much? And they realized that their home language, their 52 dialects in the Mayan Hills, I mean the Mayan language in the Hills of Guatemala with 52 different dialects. Spanish is not native to them. But that's what the national language was . And that's what the classroom language was. And um, these, these , um, linguists slash anthropologists and educators trained us to be qualitative researchers. We had a George and Margaret Mead experience. Let me tell you, they hired us and trained us to go up and live in the Highlands and sit in the classrooms and in the playgrounds and observe the students. And when they did what's called code switching, which is to jump from the co their home language to the , um , national language. And what was the context, why were they doing that? And anyway, they went on to write a fantastic study on this. But wow. Uh, in that immersive experience, I for one, was struck by, you know, the , the power of meaning of education, even down to the nuance of what language was native to the speakers and to the educators and realizing what an enormously complex the enterprise of educating anyone is. And these folks who hired me, one of them, like I said, was a PhD in education from the university of Wisconsin in Madison, which is my hometown. I was like, wow, that's so fascinating. Anyway, we behind for graduate school from the back of the Volkswagen van to the university of Wisconsin, we both went on to get advanced degrees and I studied exactly in that same department that this a woman in Guatemala did. And um, he went on and became a renewable energy specialist. But I mean, the rest is history. I just was taken by the enormity complexity and um, fascinating elements that are, that are a part of this thing we call education. It's so enormously complex and never simple. And I think if, if I want to ever convey anything about education is don't underestimate how complicated that is. So true. Absolutely. So many different, just so many different ingredients. Right. And the recipe. Um, that's a fantastic story. Thank you so much for sharing that. So you went from there into , uh, into the field of research primarily. Can you tell me a little bit about that? Yeah, so like I said, I mean our observation that economic development really is about certain , um, disciplines. So any , any group solid civilization has developed certain pillars. One is education, you know, it may also be a justice system or you know, energy and infrastructure, like what my husband did or sanitation or whatever the case. But there are many elements to developing a nation. And even though we are a F , you know, we're considered an advanced nation, our education pillar still needs to be attended to, examined and developed , um, for all. So yes, I, so after getting my PhD , um, and by the way, I specialize in both rural and education settings. My master's was in rural economic contexts, you know, challenging context of being in a rural area. My dissertation was on , uh , the complexity of , of urban settings and the number of , um, public agencies that are involved with , um, high risk and high needs students and families like social services, the justice, you know, legal department , the public health and the educators. And , uh, I, I did go on to be a professor at the university of Illinois after that, but , um, when my twins were four years old, I dropped the teaching and tenure track , uh, clicking ticking clock and just continue pursuing a career in research for the next 20, 25 years.

Speaker 2:

Fantastic. So tell us a little bit about the work that you're doing now with your turn. And by the way, congratulations on being selected as one of the eight startups in the aid T and T aspire accelerator. It's so exciting. Can, can you talk a little bit about the work that you all are doing?

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Let me just tell you that also can, as another observation, which is , is this a lot of good research, right? They , um, the inspiration for your turn can, not only as a researcher where I have to say, one of my big takeaways after being in this field for a long time is that we have information gaps. We have a lot of information, a lot of research, a lot of data in education. We have not developed great ways to communicate that to our key stakeholders , which I would say would be the home, right ? The students, their families and the , those family members who are engaged in the student's life. And in the students' success. We've had information gaps and the way we communicate the complexity of what's going on. We've had that challenge. So it really was driven home. When my twins were in middle school and sitting at home, we started receiving these sources of data. It was in a variety of forms . There was a printed out page of my kids state comprehensive exams. Uh , there was , uh , printed things being sent home and right before parent teacher conferences. And then there were things online, there was a parent portal to log on and see their grades and the attendance and that kind of thing. So it was kind of good data as a social science research, I thought these are all good data points, but it's pretty disparate. It's presented a variety of different ways. It's there and they're not connected. And I just had this Eureka moment, Rebecca, I just thought, okay, I'm a mom with a PhD education. I love this stuff, but this is a challenge. You know, I was trying to knit it together and ask what does this mean? And it's totality for my kids where they're at, but also in relation to where, what are they being set up for ? What's their pathway, what can we say about what , where they are today about in relation to where they might be going. I thought, okay, if this is , this is a challenge, or at least the curiosity for me, how about the family who is not taking that , um, look at trying to critically or, or, you know, formatively analyze this data and think what's going on here? So I thought, Oh my God, I thought, my God, we've got to make this simpler. We've got to make this integrate. We've got to make this meaningful. We've got to make it visually engaging and we've got to put it in a way that's simple and accessible for everybody. And that was my motivation. I, I had no business, honestly launching in doing , I have been doing, but I've been so motivated by the fact that Hey , we have the data date, we have the research behind what makes sense in terms of correlates and that sort of thing. And see we have the technology. I mean, almost everybody now has , uh , some access to some form of technology, whether it's mobile or access to a desktop or a laptop. And , and finally, you know, we're all getting accustomed to that. That is our information source. I thought we've got to wrap this together into a simple form in an app, in an engaging way, and push this information out, make it clear and obvious for everybody. And not only like, how are you doing or how were you doing yesterday? Let's look. We're not looking backwards. We want to take data and look forward, like what does this mean for the future? So that was the inspiration.

Speaker 2:

I think it says a lot, you know, the fact that you're sitting there, a parent with a PhD with 25 years, you know, have experience in research, in data analysis , um, you know, and even in, you know, in your experience with it, it was a complicated process at you know, and forth for the rest of us who might not be sitting with that kind of background and experience, you know, how much more. So I love that you all have taken this on and created your turn. Can you give a little bit of a picture of what your turn looks like? Inaction ?

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Great. Great question. Okay, so we, like I said, we've gotten to the point where technology is fairly ubiquitous in every school district in the United States now exist . These things called parent portals or student information systems. And those are about 15 years old or more. They harken , they go back to the time of the no child left behind. Um, federal legislation's . Matter of fact because school districts were required to be reporting up to the state and to the federal government about where a variety of kids were on a variety of measures. So they, you know, the private industries created these data warehouses basically to capture all this data reporting and then they sort of, you know, as a courtesy I suppose or you know, they knew the right thing to do is also turn this data outward to the parents. That's why they're called parent portal log on. And you basically see when you log onto a parent portal or a student information system, you see an electronic version of the grade book or the report card. So as parents can see and a student can see what courses are enrolled in, what, what their test scores or for their quarter grades or their , um, homework and uh, missing data, missing homework , um, uh , absence and tardy, all that kind of stuff. And then there are a little plugins like cafeteria purchasing, the bus schedule, all sorts of stuff. Well I have to say, I think they would admit that these things haven't really been terribly modified over these 15 years. Anything adequate, they've been adequate. But it was my also my observation that the engagement rate with the parent portals was also pretty spotty. Not everybody was logging on that everybody was checking in. They didn't. I've had, I have fed friends call me over to their home and say, would you sit in front of my, my portal and interpret this forming? And so I know the engagement rate isn't very high and yet there it is really good insightful data. So your turn plugs into these parent portals and then we extract the data out in a very personalized way just for that student and their family and create a dashboard that is a goal setting and progress tracking application , um , just for that student. And we start in the sixth grade and we're currently working up through the 12th grade so that at any point they can see how they're doing in relation to the , what it is, the respiring too . So the aspirations or the goals might be increasing attendance or um, increasing their GPA or , um , I'm graduating high school on time, you know, 20 to 25% of students in United States are still not graduated from high school. It's a real, that's a real problem. Um, economically for them and, and really for the nation. So increasing high school graduation rates as a goal, a personal goal or being eligible for a two year community or technical college, a four year state or university or even a selected college. So we can use analytics to , um, point then into like we give a green, yellow and kind of a raspberry red color signal about whether they're on track of that or not. And it's , it's refreshed daily. So every time the portal is updated, our dashboard is updated and they can see how they're doing in relation to their goal. A future state that I'm hoping our fundraising will be as successful as we want to not only tell students and parents how the student is doing in relation to their goal, but then what they can do about it once our algorithm triggers an alert. So we do push out alerts around attendance and dropping in GPA or getting off track of the goal, but then we want to put up research-based messaging about, Hey, you should know that this is an effective program or these are some best practices that are um, research informed to get you back on track. That's a great description and I, I know that you guys have called your turn the Google maps of education and I, I love that. Um, I just love that picture of leveraging the data in a way that moves students forward, right? It's not just telling a story, but it's bringing them along a pathway , um, to the direction they want to. Thinking

Speaker 2:

about ed tech a little bit here, you know, you've kind of mentioned the ubiquity of ed tech and data that everywhereness of, of these things. And I love that you've said that your turn is the AI supplement to school counseling. It's not meant to replace the human touch. It's not an all in one solution, but it's really a tool that empowers , um, educators and students and parents. Can you impact that a little bit? The idea that it's the AI supplement to school counseling?

Speaker 3:

[inaudible] sure. Well, I'm a metaphor person. I like to speak in metaphors. So I, well to me for in simple form, very simple forum , artificial intelligence is, you know, the best in statistics and analytics in its best form and um, plus tech , you know, technology is involved and I think about the day and age of the introduction of the calculator, right? The calculator is basically the artificial intelligence of the Abacus and the advocates. Was it done technological innovation, right? Which was supposed to make counting easier and accounting, that sort of thing. So over time, of course, we have gone from counting on our fingers to the Abacus , to the calculator. And you know, now the computer and variety of ways, that's all artificial intelligence in a way. And what it is, why it's artificial is that some machines can do faster, better, more accurate than humans can. And it , like I said, it's never meant to replace the counselor, but also counselors were never trained in data analytics and they have had very little training, actually done a research study on the training for school counselors across a variety of States. And the training is very disparate. There's , they're trained in a variety of different things, but mostly they want to be in the human contact business, but they are way down by a lot of reporting and data data, ideally some data analysis, but they don't have time for it. You might know this statistic that there are nearly 500 kids assigned to one school council . So it is not humanly possible for them to take a student's personal data and make , uh , and personalize it and, and give it meaning and interpretation. So let's let, let's let the machines do it. And that's what our data analytics really is. Um, so I , I do know that, you know, the word artificial intelligence kind of , um , freaks people out . That can also be overused probably in the way I'm overusing it. But it's, it's really just a way to , um, enhance and make more efficient the , the things that we do have available to us.

Speaker 2:

Right. You know, you made a great point. You said counselors in the vast majority are not trained in data analytics. And I would say the same is true for, for administrators, for teachers , uh , you know, but they're needing to make data driven decisions , um, and analyze data in a meaningful way regularly. What are some possibility is some opportunities that you see around this kind of platform , um, in the classroom let's say?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I, I, you know, as it turns out, we are in the day or in age of , um, explosion of data analytics and data visualization. So I think there's, there are a lot of good people going at this right now and helping. It's , it's terrific. I'm going intentionally S I'm staying out of the classroom. Our product is really designed for people who are in the student engagement and student guidance business because what this, our product can see as sort of the larger picture of how all the different courses roll up into , um, you know, the cumulative or the accumulation of the student's experience in relation to where they want to go and, and be , to make up really for the fact that there cannot be the personalization on the guidance level. What we're seeing in the private sector for honestly, for wealthy families is that they, they're answering this problem of lack of personalization by there's this, this emerging cottage industry, which you're probably aware of, the private counselor. That's what this varsity blues thing was all about, is that these private counselors were doing this very personalized boutiquey kind of way of guiding these kids into their best shot at the best colleges. And for me that it's a real question around equity. Not every family is going to afford themselves $10,000 or more to buy an outside counselor. So I'm hoping that our product can address that, that gap and , and access through this isn't an equitable tools made available to all students and families at no cost to them. The school district pays for it and it's doing the personalization and analytics that a lot of higher end families are paying for, to have done for their , their children. So , um, I would say, you know, that we are trying to assist those who are guiding students, whether it's the parents or a mentor or an advisor or a counselor, anyone who's in the student engagement business, they have been pretty much , uh, unintended to when it comes to ed tech. There are a lot of products out there for the classroom, but , uh, as our current customers say, wow, finally a dashboard and a tool for counselors , we've been, we've been hacking our way to solutions or ever with colored markers and everything else, you know, and , um, finally somebody built a dashboard for us to, you know , track the hundreds and hundreds of kids that we're , we're trying to stay on top of. So that's really our niche.

Speaker 2:

Oh , so great. And so needed , uh, I, you know, the 500 to one counselor student ratio is, it's a pretty staggering number. Right? And you know, we hear a lot about education technology being a tool for equity. Um, and I don't know that it always delivers on that promise, but I think this is a really great example of, of that very thing of education technology of data being used in ways that actually level the playing field. So I get really excited about that anytime I come across someone who is really making moves , um, you know, toward leveling the playing field for all students. So, well done there. And uh , thanks for touching on that. I'm curious, what kind of results are students experiencing from this? What, what have you been seeing anecdotally? Um, what is your own data analysis showing you? Um, as far as the impact to students?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, of course. That's a great question for a researcher like me writing on is at the forefront of my mind, but I have to tell you, as a longtime educational researcher, when it comes to , um, affects or impact, those things are never easy to disentangle. I'm not going to step away or shy away or, or um, you know, cop out of that. But , uh, I just to give you a little roadmap of where we are and where we've been, the beta product got into the market around 2017 with a few small districts. And then in 2018, 2019, we had a larger , uh, set of customers, let's say a sample size and then this year will be our second year with those same customers from last year plus some new ones. And like any good researcher, you know, the stages, it's implementation stage one and fidelity of implementation. And that literally takes two to three years. And that's, you'd say where we are now is fidelity of implementation and then you can start tracking some measures that we have built. We have built short term, mid term and long term , um, measurable outcomes that we're looking for. But I'd say it's too early, but I'll give you a preview of what we're looking at and what we think is, yeah, what we think is doable. I mean, of course in the longterm , our goal , um , for impact is to increase high school graduation rate. Honestly, I'm, I'm gonna go blue sky and say 100% by 2030, I want to see a hundred percent high school graduation in the United States. There's no, there's no excuse. Why not? Yeah, why not? It's free. It's everywhere. It's, it's been around for a long time. So everybody should at least get that brass ring and move on to the next level. I had longterm goals. I would love to see an increase of those students who didn't see themselves eligible for postsecondary. I'd love to see their, their enrollment rates go up. Um, uh , but in a midterm level, I'd like to say that we could measure whether we've even increased , um, attendance rates. Wow. You know, to visually see how impactful missing school is on your longterm goals. It's very visually impactful. People tell us that all the time. We have this sliding calculator where we can show like, well, you know, if you miss any more school, this is what's going to happen in the long run . Then kids are like, wow, I didn't, I didn't realize, you know, and there's great research behind attendance. We all know this. You've got to show up. So I'm , that's in midterm is reducing uh , absenteeism, increasing attendance , um, ideally in nudging kids into more rigorous courses that again, they wouldn't see themselves succeeding at. We are, we've got GPA predictors. We can show whether what their GPA is likely to be based on a variety of variables including the rigor of their course taking. So maybe we can nudge them into college ready level classes that they didn't see themselves in. But in the short term, I think even next year, I hope we will be able to even measure engagement. Like I said, these, these data portals have been around, not everybody's logging onto them. Like I said, a friend of mine called me over to his house to say , would you interpret this thing for me? So, okay, that's increasing engagement because it's visually pleasing and easy to understand. It's , um, I got to tell you, Rebecca, I said, I'm a metaphor person. My metaphor for what we're doing is not unlike what Fitbit has done to the, to the health and wellness industry, right? So we've had bath scales forever. Uh, it doesn't, it's kinda gives you backward looking. Data doesn't tell you like whether you're going to lose 10 pounds by the end of the summer. But um , Fitbit again has sort of democratized the, the personal trainer. Remember when the a hundred dollar an hour personal trainer about that, you know, Florida, $100 an hour personal trainer to lose 10 pounds, but for 100 bucks you could slip us , you could slip a Fitbit on your wrist and track your exertion, your calories, all that is good data. And we're similarly doing with education data. What other industries in health industry, even in the finance industry with mint.com and other personal finance pro products we're doing with education data with these other industries are doing in a a , a more affordable and I would say even democratized and kind of why ? Because it's affordable. More people can get access to their health data and the meaning of their health data, their financial data. And the meaning of their financial data. We're doing the same with the education data. So I want to increase engagement and an app form just, you know, log on, boom, you see it for two seconds and go, Oh , go good, everything's in the green. I can, I can, you know, keep doing what I'm doing. Or Ooh, a little yellow signal just popped up. I got to take a look at what's going on here. So we wanted to be that super simple and um, that engaging. So I think in the short term we can increase whether people are logging on more and engaging with their own data.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I think you're really speaking to impacting students self-efficacy , right? And you know, enabling them to really take ownership of their learning journey and where they're going. And it reminded me of that first story that you told, you know, in the work that , um, you know, you joined in empowering , um, you know, the citizens that you were working with. And I, I, so I'm just seeing some connection from, from that point to what you're doing with students now.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. In fact, it's kind of lost, but that's why it's called your turn is that I am in a very solid way thing . It's your data. It's your dashboard, it's your future. You know, here's here. It's your turn to be in control. We can't passively wait any longer for the counselor or the parent teacher conference to tell us what to do or what's going on. It's just not been effective for as many kids as it needs to be and it's been far too passive. So yeah, it's definitely meant to strike it. Um , agency,

Speaker 1:

we're going to take a real quick break back in just a sec. Hey guys, it's Rebecca. Over the last several years, I've worked with educators across the U S who are truly doing education differently and changing the game for students. The problem I've bumped into is that truly innovative educators often feel like they're building their vision alone. They're the only ones they know who are doing things this way. But the truth is there are thousands of dynamic educators like this across the country and across the globe. I'm privileged to know an awful lot of them. What if these educators had a place to connect, really connect and step into each other's goals. Imagine finding a like-minded tribe. We're inspiration coaching, an actual collaboration or regular byproducts of every meeting. This tribe exists and it's called the teacher mastermind. If you want to know more, go to teacher mastermind.com or send me a message. When you do education differently, you often go alone. We think we're better together and we're back.

Speaker 2:

Um , looking at the education system just a little bit and I think any of us who have gone through , um, you know, the U S K 12 journey, you know, on into graduation in college, any one who is in education now , um, you know, any parents of students can really relate to the obscurity of the pathway. You know, it varies from, from family to family, from state to state, from district to district and you know, highly dependent on a number of variables. You know, and you all are really doing such good work to , to illuminate that pathway. But looking at the education system, kind of from a broad sense, what are some of the systemic roots that might be underlying this obscurity and do you see any changes, you know, kind of across the board that might be a little bit of an easier grab looking ahead to the near future?

Speaker 3:

Well I'd say it's taking us a long time to get here, but I feel that there's great promise behind this whole notion of personalization. Really. It's just been, we've been batch processing kids for well over a century where we just think of this one size fits all model and as we see at works for some doesn't fricking for all. So we've got the question that what, what isn't working, but how can we, we know everyone is ethical , we know that there is a, there is a method for everyone. We just have been using one. That's been kind of a problem. So this notion of personalization is really taking hold. And I really hope it's not faddish and I hope it doesn't go away, but my hope, my my , I'd say that the, the representation of how it is really taking hold is that, as you know, over 40 years ago, the individualized education plan took hold and for special education students. Why? Because it was very clear that these students could not be batch process. They had special needs. So they required an individualized education plan. Well, honestly, every student deserves and needs an individualized education plan. We're now calling a personalized learning plan or some form of personalization. But for me, that's where there's, there's great promise for us to get closer to an understand every child and the multiplicity of ways that we can understand them. And you know, I , I give you , you know, you raised the issue about equity a little bit and I'll give you just an a quote or an anecdote from a superintendent who said, you know, what I really like about your product is that the data speaks through the subjectivity. Humans tend to just subjectively put kids in up a box or a category and they underestimate them. He said, I'm ashamed to say, I know that some folks in our school district are underestimating the capabilities of some kids, but boy , when the data speaks to their, their capacity and their abilities, that is a whole nother game. You know, and it, it pushes aside the subjective way that we have been processing kids. So I find this , um, current movement of data-driven everything and , uh, uh, using the data for personalization, find it very exciting.

Speaker 2:

That is a, that's a really powerful statement. Speaking about data as being able to show really the possibility and potential in students and where it may not have been seen before. And I don't know that that's a perspective on data that I have heard very often. So that makes me really excited about what you guys are doing. When you look out across , uh, you know, the national landscape, maybe even the global landscape, where do you see your turn growing? How are you all hoping to scale?

Speaker 3:

Hmm . Well that is the $64,000 question. Just a little simple question for ya . I mean, my gosh , uh, there are 14,000 school districts in the United States. Um, 50 million students. Our , our product serves middles and high school students. So really half of that. So about 25 million students globally. There's 700 middle and high school, some a hundred million middle school and high school students. Of course. No we're not gonna we're not gonna be able to reach them all. But, but I of course come up, have come up with an efficiency move cause that's how I roll and love efficiency and there are what I call channels and these channels are the products that are already ubiquitous and frequently access to user in districts. And that would be those parent portals . So my first strategy is to plug in and be in a partnership with these, these existing tools and say, Hey, you know, you've got the engine or I like to call it the plumbing. Again, back to the metaphors . I think of these as the plumbing and we are the sink and the faucet is the outward facing, you know, easy to use and understand. Gets the job done kind of thing. Don't have to understand the plumbing. Um, and so , um , I'm actually in a discussion right now with a significant partner. I think it's, I don't know if , I don't mean to do a commercial, I don't know if I should mention that the company or not, but I have been enjoined with the , uh, one of these larger parent portal companies. Um, they like what I'm doing. I still have to do the sales and marketing and push out my product , um, to their existing customers. But at any rate there , they're already out there. So I'm just kinda a barnacle on their ship and, and trying to , um , get out to the school districts in that more efficient way instead of the door to door door knocking, which I'm doing now. And it's, I'm not gonna live that long if I do it.

Speaker 2:

Well. That's very exciting to hear. Um, what's maybe one of the myths or misconceptions that you have been encountering, you know, as you've been working with districts, maybe on along the lines of data, maybe along the lines of , um, you know, the pathway to graduation in college, but, but what's a misconception or myth that the has either surprised you or that you wish you could kind of shout the truth from the rooftops?

Speaker 3:

Good question. At the top of my mind without giving this up, you know, with a ton of thought, but two things. One is that I think we're still in this era of being afraid of data. You know, that the data is working against us. Oh my gosh. Cambridge Analytica and the shenanigans, these big Silicon Valley social media companies does not help the situation. Not at all. And yet , um, research and you know, finding a cure to cancer has been data-driven all along. We, we are, we can use data for good. So that's one thing that I think I'd love to um, shout out there is that data can be used for good because it does have insights. Now, of course there is bias behind the analyst who takes the data and makes meaning and interpretation of it. So it's gotta be on guard about that at all times. And I've actually hired a third party firm to do an audit on our algorithms and on our and and our protection and security measures to make sure that the data is bias free but also is secure. So I take all of these things very seriously as both a citizen and as a mother of a , certainly as a founder of a company. So that's why the other thing I'd love the world to know is that high school graduation is there and free for everybody. Let's all do it 100% and by the way, two year technical and community colleges are an affordable postsecondary option. If you finish high school, you are eligible for a two year technical and community college. They are GPA agnostic. You don't have to cram for the sat or by a private counselor to get your act score up and have people write essays for you . You don't have to do that. You can go to your local technical and community college, it's a training Institute and they will train you for an occupation that will set you on a road for a living wage. 65% of jobs today require at least a two year degree beyond high school. I really, really want the world to know that that's what we should all be shooting for. I mean, like I said years ago, I think that the government should fund schooling from three years old to 13th grade, you know , something that moves beyond school and um, and get students to obtain. I think once they get out of that high school setting and into a college setting of community or technical college, they start to really get comfortable in their education skin and find their pathway and it gets very exciting for them at that point. So some work that some of us are doing is meeting together these course pathways through the high school curriculum and into the postsecondary program so that the kids can and parents can see a more of a seamless experience that you might start allied health courses in high school but then go on and get your, your a technical degree or a two year degree or associates degree in health profession and go right into some great clinical setting with a decent wage. I mean that's all very, very doable. So , um, those are, those are two things that I, if I was in a public relations executive, one of spend my time and money on,

Speaker 2:

you know, one , one thing that I'd love to just get your perspective on is around what a healthy relationship with data looks like within a school district or within an individual school building.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I've heard it said many times before by the folks at the data quality campaign that data should be used as a flashlight and not a hammer. And I love that because I think we were hit over the head with the um, no child left behind punitive nature of, you know, the requirements report data. And then there was the shaming of the data. Like, I don't know if this was true in your state, but in my home state, I know they published in the newspaper, all those school districts that were not meeting annual yearly. Um , what was that annual yearly progress, AYP and cause you know, how much growth had had happened in the school year and that sort of thing. And it was used for shaming instead of for good. So that, that I think at maybe at the start that legislation had some good intentions, but again was used as a hammer instead of a flashlight. Instead, we know that like a bath scale, you can see how much maybe you weigh today. It doesn't tell you whether you worked really hard that morning and your Zoomba class or that you take the stairs every day . You won't know that for several weeks. Right. So if you could have a forecast of what input, what do I need to do in order to achieve this output, this kind of outcome, then I'm shooting for and then measure it along the way. You know, we're , we're kind of kind of now wired for that. We understand the inputs and outputs , um, calories and calories out, that sort of thing. Same with school effort in effort, you know, outcomes come that you're in your favor if you put in the effort, if you show up for school, you will see the , um, positive outcomes. So I think that the shining a light on the analytics of what might happen based on both, you know, the positive ensure there are consequences if you don't show up or if you don't put in school effort, you can also see the trajectory going in that direction, the opposite direction. But you need to at least know that I need to see what's coming based on your choices. And that's all abstract when you're a parent, kind of wagging your finger in a kid's face, what they have to do. But I'm feeling it entirely different. When they see it portrayed on their phone. All of a sudden they're like, okay , my phone makes sense. I never understood what my mother was saying. My phone is telling me honestly. I've had these conversations with educators and parents. So anyway , um, yeah, I think shining a light on the what, what can happen both with, with the , um, input and then the outcome needs to be visible , made visual, use it like a flashlight. Think about inputs and outputs. I love it. Angie , who are you giving an a too these days? Oh my gosh. So many hardworking people every day . Um, I think rather than to a person, I, I really believe in , um, the power of reading that sounds like an outdated thing, but reading is still fundamental. So I give a pluses to reading specialists and reading advocates and anyone who is reading to a child or teaching a child to read or modeling to a child about reading, getting away from , um, entertainment, but more in terms of the having , uh , reading for, for , for life, not what did they say? They say , um , read to learn and learn to read. It's, it's a very synchronous relationship. The only reason I'm a huge champion of reading, especially in that early, early years, is that we know so much Rebecca from research that a student's reading level is very predictive of how they're going to do later on. So I'm getting all students to read at the third grade level. By the end of third grade is the big predictor of, of , of what's to come. It's correlated to how well they're going to do in math in the eighth grade and what kind of courses they're going to take and survive in high school. I mean, it's, it's unbelievably profound how significant reading is. So , um, I don't, I hope we will never ever lighten up on our , um, efforts to get all children to read and to read well and to read at their grade level. Um, I think we take it for granted. I think , uh , we really should be putting more dollars and efforts into that in a very personalized way.

Speaker 2:

[inaudible] foundational on that end. Do you have a book that you're reading right now or one that you would highly recommend to our listeners?

Speaker 3:

Oh, how appropriate. But I just finished the book educated by Tara Westover. Oh my gosh. Uh , if you've ever read it, Rebecca, I highly recommend it on you. We'll speed read through it because you will love the story as a , uh , educator yourself. She self-educated. She had such a hunger and such a desire for knowledge. She's self-educated. Don't know if you know the story, but I'll, I'll leave you with that. Tantalizing fact. Quite a riveting story.

Speaker 2:

Awesome. I've already written it down. We'll make sure it's in the show notes too. That's fantastic. So, Andy, as we kinda wrap up our conversation here today, how can people get connected with you , um, you know, moving forward, how can they get involved with what you're doing?

Speaker 3:

Aw , thank you for that. Um, well, we [email protected] That's U R T U R n.org. And by the way, we're an org because we are a public benefit corporation. That means that our social mission outriders our um, interest in , um, shareholders return on their investment. Um, we , we, we value what's called the double bottom line. We, we know that we can do good while also , um, making a profit but it's um, it's , it's a whole nother podcast for another day actually. But um, personally you can email me [email protected] or [email protected] .

Speaker 2:

Fantastic. And I'll make sure we've got all of those links in the show notes as well so people can jump right in. Angie, thank you so much for being on the show today. I've just so love picking your brain and really appreciate your time.

Speaker 3:

Well I really appreciate that you reached out Rebecca and I really appreciate what you're doing for all of us in this. You're in the information business and believe me, we need more and more of, it's a good for you.

Speaker 1:

Hey, thanks for tuning into another episode of off the assembly line. Angie's information and all the resources we talked about will be in the show notes and you can find them at off the assembly line. Dot co if you know some people who need to hear this show, share it with them, you can send them a link to the website or share the actual podcast from phone by hitting the little square with the arrow in it. Text it, email, tweet it, or share it on social. You can connect with [email protected] or find me on LinkedIn. I'd love to talk with you. Now it's your turn to go make a ruckus. You see what I did? [inaudible] .

Intro to episode
Angie's origin story
The power of research
The inspiration for UR Turn and the data-knowledge gap
What does UR Turn look like in action?
When edtech is done right, it empowers educators
How UR Turn is impacting student self-efficacy and agency
How delivering data meaningfully can solve systemic challenges in the school system
For UR Turn, the future is built on partnerships
What's the greatest data misconception you want to clear up?
What does a healthy relationship with school data look like?
Who are you giving an A to Angie?
Connect with Angie and UR Turn