Digging into the Data: How a CMO Data Scientist Strives to Make the Network Stronger

Every year at DP YOU, we come together as a network to learn from each other and celebrate the culture and values of Democracy Prep. This year we’re recognizing the teachers, academic and operational leaders (and more) who make up the DREAM team by sharing how they’ve excelled in their schools and why they #WorkAtDP.

Miguel Rivera Rios is a Data Scientist on the Data Team at the CMO.

The right data can help teachers, school leaders, and other school and CMO staff members be empowered to make informed decisions about scholars. Data Scientist Miguel Rivera Rios does anything he can to get the right data in front of DREAM team members.

“There is an understanding from the network that even though we’re not working out of a school, we’re [here] in support of schools,” said Miguel. “We want to make the lives of scholars and teachers easier.”

Within his role as Data Scientist, Miguel has helped create several projects to creatively address teacher and scholar needs.

One of these projects won second place in the Social Emotional Learning Assessment Work Group’s second annual Design Challenge. As a team of three, Miguel, Director of Scholar Support Sharese Maine and alumna Alize Smith designed a text-based game specifically targeted to address Social Emotional Learning needs for DPPS high school scholars.

The game presents scholars with interactive, fictional situations and asks them how they would respond. Scenarios align to a school’s core values, and a scholar’s decision making in each situation provides immediate actionable data to teachers and school leaders.

“The scenarios in the game are meant to mirror real-world examples that they will encounter throughout their academic career, so that we can get an understanding of their underlying values and how those values align with the school’s values,” said Miguel.

For example, a scenario may ask scholars what they would do in the following situation:

It’s Trimester 1. You’re very good at volleyball, and you’ve been told you can easily get a scholarship to play in college. You are passing the majority of your classes with high 70’s and low 80’s, however, you are struggling to push your Literature Studies grade above a 70. You’ve never had to go to summer school before, and you always end the year with at least a C in all your classes. Your G.P.A. is high enough to play on the volleyball team now, but if you do that, you won’t be able to go to tutoring this trimester. What do you do?

A. Try out for Volleyball and study more for Literature Studies after practice.
B. Try out for Volleyball and go to tutoring next trimester.
C. Go to tutoring this trimester and try out for another team next trimester.
D. Talk to your Literature Studies teacher and organize tutoring before school so you can try out for Volleyball this trimester.
E. Talk to the Volleyball coach to organize an alternate schedule for practice so you can also attend tutoring.

The scholar’s response to each question will affect which scenarios they see going forward. Miguel and his team will spend Trimester 1 building out the computer program, and will use Trimester 2 and 3 to roll out the program to staff. There will be differentiated uses for middle and high school. Ideally in the future they will be able to give targeted PDs to teachers based on the scholar data collected.

Miguel is working on second project with the ACT Team that provides school leaders and ACT Managers snapshot data so they can see how ACT scholars are performing by themselves and in comparison to their general education peers. The goal of the tool is to deliver data in an easily digestible way and help instructors identify potential discrepancies.

For Miguel, the collective effort to creatively problem-solve so that scholars can be successful is one of the reasons he loves working for Democracy Prep.

“In terms of the [DPPS] culture, everyone’s end goal is getting scholars to [and through] college. Everyone knows that’s what they want to do and that’s why they’re here,” said Miguel. “A lot of times, that means your role might extend to take on some new responsibilities or you might have to do something outside your realm that you weren’t familiar with before. But it’s all for the goal of getting these students where we want them to be.”

This October– when he’s not designing award winning scholar-facing socio-emotional tools– you can find him leading a literature review of English Language Learners as a Professional Development session at this year’s DP YOU.


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