After his charter network was awarded a $31 million Race to the Top grant, Grindle was faced with a choice: Continue serving as the IT director, or transition into building a new software development department. Having served as a classroom teacher and then IT director, Grindle embraced the challenge and embarked on a journey to create a data analytics platform for use at the district level.
Though the analytics platform is still in development – it’s slated as a three-year project - Grindle believes that it will help teachers and students alike. When completed, the platform will funnel all data into a centralized warehouse where an internal team will work with research and analysis partners to determine key insights that drive learning and instruction. “We acknowledge that our teachers don’t have the time to sit down and pore over data for two to three hours every night - we know the anxiety and anguish that can bring to teachers, especially those new to the profession,” says Grindle.
At the start of the 2014-2015 school year, Grindle will roll out part of the analytics platform to six of the district’s academy schools. With pre-determined measurements and markers of success, Grindle will compare the impact of the platform against the non-piloted schools. With real-time insights, he hopes to encourage personalized learning among students and instill confidence in teachers. “We want teachers to have confidence and a sense of empowerment so that the decisions they’re making for individual students are the right ones to be making at that time, which will help get those students to where they need to be,” says Grindle.
Grindle has helped revolutionize the way his district views data. Previously, IDEA Public Schools had developed technology labs that served as blended learning spaces. The issue with these spaces was that none of the data gathered made it back to the teachers. Grindle’s new platform will help to ensure teachers have access to real-time data. With this data, teachers will be better prepared to provide individualized learning experiences for each student. Thus far, most schools and teachers seem to be embracing this technological shift. “In terms of adoption, my experience is that teachers and principals are very excited,” says Grindle. “They’re excited for the opportunity to use something that is real. We’ve all had experiences where the world is promised in one technology, but it’s not very useful and actionable.”
Grindle recognizes that his district is making a huge investment in him, his work and his department, but that doesn’t keep him from being a bit of a risk taker. “You have to have a tolerance for risk. That’s one of the things that excites me most about working for IDEA Public Schools,” says Grindle. “As a district, our success and our growth is due in part to our high tolerance for risk when it comes to technology.” With high expectations, IDEA Public Schools acknowledges small wins along the way to new technology initiatives. With the district’s mission in mind, Grindle keeps long-term student success and achievement as his priority. Like many in education, Grindle is passionate about his work and hopes that it prepares each student for college and life after K-12.