“Data Driving Change” Showcases Local Innovation in Early Childhood

rofw_nov_2016The Fort Worth early learning community recently has been abuzz about data – and rightfully so. The recent launch of the Fort Worth literacy partnership (led by Mayor Betsy Price, Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent Scribner, and BNSF Chairman Matt Rose) has coincided with a number of other exciting community initiatives utilizing data to inform early childhood strategies. Given these developments, “Data Driving Change” emerged as a timely theme for the latest Raising of Fort Worth (ROFW) breakfast at Lena Pope on November 1, 2016. The morning’s ROFW panel, moderated by Child Care Associates President & CEO Kara Waddell, consisted of representatives from Cook Children’s, ACH Family Foster Recruitment, FWISD’s School Readiness Collaboration, and the Fort Worth literacy partnership. Each of these representatives were asked to address the following two questions:

  1. How has your organization used data to drive its decisions?
  2. How has the use of data improved your organization’s processes or desired outcomes related to early childhood?

Following are some key takeaways from each presenter:

  • Larry Tubb, Cook Children’s. Cook Children’s hospital has learned important lessons about the use of data through the aggregation and analysis of data on children’s health outcomes. In the area of childhood obesity, for example, statistics showed that rates of obesity were decreasing as children grew from age 4 to age 10 – which could have supported a conclusion that the hospital’s programs were effective in reducing these rates. A closer look at the data, however, showed that obesity rates for the same child’s age year-over-year were not decreasing – proving misleading prior data. Larry’s critical takeaway was that we must be cognizant of specifically what data are measuring in order to be helpful in informing interventions.
  • Michael Scrivner, ACH - Foster Family Recruitment. Michael shared a map of foster homes and child placements in Fort Worth and surrounding areas. ACH knew that children do better when they are placed in a foster home in close proximity to their home and school of origin. When they began collecting data, however, it became clear that only a small portion of actual foster home placements were within that preferred distance. His presentation revealed that data need not be complex to be effective – sometimes the simplest or most intuitive data facilitate the action needed to make impactful changes.
  • Kym Shaw Day, School Readiness Collaboration. Fort Worth ISD’s maps have provided critical information about agencies serving early learning populations across Fort Worth. With this data, the School Readiness Collaboration will be able to better align and coordinate early education resources to reduce duplication of services, raise quality across early learning centers, and expand services to those neighborhoods with the highest need.
  • Kristin Sullivan, Fort Worth literacy partnership. This recently launched initiative is centered on collecting and communicating local data to help ensure 100% of 3rd graders read proficiently by 2025. A partnership with Dallas Commit! has enabled Fort Worth ISD to identify neighborhoods and FWISD schools that are outperforming their peers in 3rd grade reading scores. These “bright spot” schools will be evaluated in order to identify best practices that can be replicated across the system for children age 0-8.

Jeremy Smith of The Rainwater Charitable Foundation was asked to provide a philanthropic perspective on the importance of using data to inform investment decisions. He underscored the need for data to show what’s working, as well as what needs to be improved. He applauded nonprofit organizations that present honest data for the purpose of improving their approach, iterating theories of what works, and finding the best solution going forward. Jeremy stated that this kind of transparent approach solidifies trust in nonprofit organizations and is a key characteristic his foundation seeks in its grantee partnerships.

A special thanks to Todd Landry, President & CEO of Lena Pope, and Dennis Shingleton, Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Fort Worth, for kicking off the morning’s event. Charles Carroll, Chief Academic Officer for Fort Worth ISD, concluded the morning by reiterating FWISD’s commitment to data transparency, consistent communications, and improving student outcomes together with the entire Fort Worth community.


If you’d like to be a part of the Raising of Fort Worth effort, we encourage you to:

  1. Download the Nov. 1st ROFW takeaway, and send it to people in your network who might want to stay apprised of local early learning efforts and engagement opportunities.
  2. Sign up to receive communications on key early childhood developments in Fort Worth, upcoming Raising of Fort Worth events and other early childhood news.
  3. Visit the Raising of Fort Worth website for additional resources and information. Stay tuned for our next event!

The Raising of Fort Worth is sponsored by The Miles Foundation, alongside partners First3Years, North Texas Community FoundationEarly Learning AllianceUnited Way of Tarrant CountyCamp Fire First Texas, Rainwater Charitable FoundationThe Parenting Center, and Lena Pope.

If you have questions or would like additional information, please contact Sadie Funk at First3Years at 214.616.2918 or sfunk@first3yearstx.org

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