Adding Tableau to the Raise DC data toolkit

An example of the type of data visualizations Raise DC will be able to create within Tableau. Source: Tableau.com

An example of the type of data visualizations Raise DC will be able to create within Tableau.

Source: Tableau.com

By Allison Hagaman, Data Manager

Always eager to find more effective ways to tell DC’s education stories through data, this summer I applied to—and was selected to participate in—a fellowship with StriveTogether and Tableau Foundation. Tableau is a software that allows users to easily create compelling data visualizations and interactive dashboards. Imagine graphs that distill complex concepts into simple visuals, or interactive maps that allow website users to disaggregate data on the spot. It’s like Excel, PowerPoint, and SquareSpace joined forces to create a data visualization superhero to solve our education problems, one data analysis at a time.

Raise DC is one of 15 partnerships from the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network that will participate in the yearlong fellowship. In addition to receiving a free license of Tableau and access to secure server space, we will spend the next year learning how to effectively use Tableau to visualize local data to advance our collective impact work. The 14 other fellows and I will meet in person a handful of times to receive training from Tableau professionals and to share best practices from across the country.

Our first meeting was held in October in Minneapolis, just prior to StriveTogether’s National Convening. We spent the afternoon sharing our current data visualizations with other communities, creating action plans for our Tableau usage, and learning about all of the benefits our communities will receive by engaging in this fellowship.

With data at the core of all that Raise DC does, using Tableau to visualize data will ensure that Change Network action plans are focused on our core indicators, will make data analysis accessible to even the most data-phobic individuals, and will create the culture of data use critical to this work. Tableau will also help communicate Raise DC’s story externally. Interactive maps will allow users to toggle through indicators and identify where there are gaps and bright spots in our city; dashboards will ensure that our Progress Report represents real-time data in a sustainable and useful fashion. With several members of Raise DC’s Change Networks engaging in data sharing, I plan to use Tableau to create personalized and easily digestible reports that schools and CBOs can use for continuous improvement.

With Tableau, Raise DC will be better equipped not only to effectively analyze and use data, but also to help local schools and partners in understanding data. Through more powerful visual analytics, DC will be better informed and, therefore, more able to improve outcomes for students. I look forward to sharing all that I learn with Raise DC’s key audiences.