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The old African proverb says, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Likewise, for the Salesforce.org Education Cloud for K-12 team and its pilot partner the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), educating a child takes an entire community. That’s the philosophy behind OUSD’s community schools model. At Salesforce we believe we can apply technology to help K-12 schools and districts connect students with the services they need to thrive – from food and mental health to devices, tutoring and much more.
OUSD, like most school systems, looks closely at the A-B-Cs—attendance, behavior, and class performance — as indicators for how students are developing and tracking towards graduation. Measuring and evaluating these key indicators often goes beyond just classroom instruction. As a result, OUSD connects students to a range of services and opportunities designed to ensure they are caring, competent, fully-informed, critical thinkers who are prepared for college, career, and community success.
What’s important is that we’re getting the right services to the right students at the right time to operationalize equity.Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell, OUSD Superintendent
Connecting students with the services to fill these needs can prove difficult, especially in an environment turned upside-down by COVID-19. Referral forms get lost, paperwork falls through the cracks, and relying on students to get parent-signed documents created unique challenges. The district needed a solution to connect a student’s needs from referral to service — efficiently and effectively, prior to and especially during a pandemic.
Scaling change through technology
As a longtime partner to the Oakland community and OUSD, and with a similar organization-wide mission to drive equality through education, Salesforce started meeting with K-12 leaders to work through solutions for challenges so many districts face.
“The challenge of connecting different programs and resources to help students succeed posed to us by OUSD was not unique,” says Helen Hwang, Vice President of K-12 & Community College Industry Solutions, Salesforce.org. “We thought about how we could leverage Salesforce technology to provide a solution for OUSD as well as for other schools and districts across the country.”
“Hearing the superintendent’s goal to operationalize equity hit home for our team and really outlined the opportunity for our technology,” says Germán Freiwald, K-12 Industry Solutions Director, Salesforce.org.
I’m in this role at Salesforce because I believe education is how we can get to equality and technology is how we can scale change.Germán Freiwald, K-12 Industry Solutions Director, Salesforce.org
The Salesforce product team found that student success plans, referral forms, alerts, and more were mostly analog or housed in disparate systems. They all needed to be accessible in one secure, collaborative space online.
“We also looked at the core issues: where are students struggling, what are the needs, how are those needs being identified,” says Hwang. “Next, we had to signify when an intervention is needed, alert the rest of the student support team, make sure there is follow through, and ultimately, confirm the need is resolved and an outcome is achieved.”
Adding Student Success Hub to Salesforce.org’s Education Cloud for K-12
After months of conversations and onsite learning with OUSD teachers, administrators and community school managers, Salesforce developed a student support solution for the district built on Education for K-12 Cloud, which provided a foundation to unite teachers, parents, students, and staff to streamline the personalized support each child needs.
Working hand in hand with OUSD and other school leaders helped inform Salesforce.org’s own product development for Student Success Hub — a purpose-built solution designed to help student support staff like counselors, behavior specialists, and social workers connect students to essential services that can help them succeed in school and in life. Salesforce believes Student Success Hub features the right components and groundwork to deliver holistic student support from anywhere and – as Superintendent Dr. Johnson-Trammell puts it – operationalize equity.
Student Success Hub helps schools support the whole student, visualize progress, intervene collaboratively, and measure key outcomes. Being able to access alerts from anywhere and securely collaborate among all stakeholders allows for quicker response times, meaning faster access to resources for students.
Salesforce believes digital efficiency from all its products results in more time for human connectivity and problem-solving. In this case, Student Success Hub provides staff with all the information they need to ensure a student is supported, allowing them to focus on what really matters to drive student success.
Jaymie Lollie, a Community School Manager at Frick Impact Academy (OUSD), adds that Salesforce technology can be a game-changer for schools with tight budgets and big expectations.
When asked to do more with less, having a product that helps us leverage and maximize limited resources is exciting and necessary. It allows us to not only work smarter, but provide meaningful feedback that every staff member needs to support our students and families effectively and efficiently.Jaymie Lollie, Community School Manager, Frick Impact Academy, OUSD
Student Success Hub: Customizable, collaborative and flexible
Student Success Hub provides a detailed, holistic view of each student. In a single snapshot, support teams can see a student’s needs and progress —helping to visualize where they are in their educational journey. Housing all interactions, services provided and data from those A-B-C indicators in one centralized location, helps schools and districts best impact student success.
Putting the concept of education-takes-a-community into practice, Student Success Hub allows for the individuals who support a student to work smarter and faster, together. As Germán Freiwald, K-12 Industry Solutions Director, Salesforce.org explains, students aren’t one-dimensional. They have complex stories and needs. “They might be facing housing insecurity while also coping with a learning disability and other issues. Approaching that in a multifactorial way, you need to coordinate several interventions simultaneously.”
Thus, the student support teams are more effective when they are working in close collaboration, rather than independent of each other. But not every school community has the same needs and available resources. “We needed the solution to be flexible in order to truly operationalize equity. It has to provide the same value for a private school with 400 students as it does an entire school district with 20,000 students,” says Freiwald.
Each student has different skills, knowledge and abilities, so the educational journey must be personalized so that they all have the best chance to succeed. Student Success Hub allows for this personalization and the flexibility to fit each school or district and the resources available to students. “Every school has some form of a student success plan tied to desired outcomes,” says Ashley Brown, Product Manager for K-12 Student Success, Salesforce.org. “However, the content, the programs, the resources and the operations in which a district functions are all going to vary. So, our solution allows for customization.”
Put to the test with the COVID-19 pandemic and transition to remote learning
Amidst Salesforce’s work with OUSD, a challenge no one anticipated was introduced—the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic simply revealed and exacerbated all the inequities facing school districts,” said Curtiss Sarikey, OUSD Chief of Staff. “It’s exposed the digital divide and access to technology in a way we’ve never seen before, not just in Oakland, but across the country.”
The pandemic left communities around the world with job losses, increased poverty, struggling local businesses and taxed resource centers. The education system immediately felt the impact as equity gaps became wider and students faced even greater challenges outside the classroom, increasing the need for access to even more resources.
As classrooms went digital, the rest of the support system had to as well. Interconnectivity, alerts and access to resources had to extend much further beyond the four walls of a school building to ensure students remained healthy and mentally supported, and stayed on track academically. With some schools going to remote learning models and the school day looking much different than ever before, school districts had to completely change how they supported each student holistically.
“Where students got their meals, their healthcare, how they received mentoring and tutoring support, all that and more changed almost overnight,” says Hwang.
The world went digital and we needed to adapt our product to help schools navigate the challenges presented.Helen Hwang, Vice President of K-12 & Community College Industry Solutions, Salesforce.org
Education Cloud for K-12 and Student Success Hub’s cloud-based platforms allow for a smooth transition to supporting students in a digital world. Stakeholders can access an alert, update a student success plan and more, from anywhere.
Though put to the test due to the pandemic and transition to remote learning, Salesforce and OUSD immediately realized the benefits Salesforce’s technology had in delivering holistic student support. When COVID-19 hit, OUSD was able to leverage the Salesforce platform to ensure students continued receiving services — even during school closures.
Likewise, Madera Unified School District, based in central California, which deployed an early release of Student Success Hub, immediately realized the benefits of Salesforce technology, including the flexibility it offers. “Salesforce provided the base-line functionality and we then could customize it to do what we knew we needed to do here at Madera Unified,” says Babatunde Ilori, Executive Director of Accountability & Communications at Madera Unified. ”We now have the tools to better coordinate equitable student support and ensure we are connecting students with the services they need to be successful in school and in life.”
Staying flexible now and innovating for the future
This year it was COVID-19 that exacerbated all the issues already present in the education system. Next year, and in the coming years, the world will face unforeseen challenges that will have an impact on students.
“We will continue to work directly with school districts, continue to learn, and continue to evolve Student Success Hub to help lead to the best student outcomes,” says Freiwald. “Listening and learning are how we can innovate and find creative ways to solve current and future problems in the education system to operationalize equity.”
To learn more about OUSD’s story, watch this video:
Student Success Hub will be released in winter 2021 and made available to United States-based customers transacting in U.S. dollars. Any unreleased services or features referenced in this or other posts or public statements are not currently available and may not be delivered on time or at all. Customers who purchase Salesforce applications should make their purchase decisions based on features that are currently available. For more information, please visit https://salesforce.com, or call 1-800-NO-SOFTWARE.