Henrico County Students conduct presentation at equity "Datathon"
HCPS students present their findings at the 2019 Datathon. (Photo by Library of Virginia)

Henrico, Va., Oct. 5, 2019 – While the data available to humanity grows, it can sometimes be hard to apply that data to real-life problems. HCPS students aren’t intimidated, however. Recently four teams that included Henrico County Public Schools students participated in DataVA’s “Equity in Education Datathon” – the only K-12 student-led teams in the competition. Not only that, but two of the three winning teams chosen from among the 21 participating squads were teams led by HCPS students.

The event brought together 21 multidisciplinary teams from government, higher education, private industry and nonprofits for an innovative two-day competition at the Library of Virginia. The goal? Work with data to find new ways to address challenges in achieving equity in education. The competition began at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 3 and the teams worked through the next day at 3:30 p.m.

The Center for Information Technology at Deep Run High School fielded a student team, and three student-led teams were sponsored by the HCPS Department of Equity, Diversity and Opportunities, and the HCPS Department of Assessment, Research and Evaluation. The three teams sponsored by the HCPS departments included a VCU professor or graduate student, an HCPS teacher and four students from diverse cultures, races, lived experiences and schools.

HCPS teams took two of the three winning places. The first-place team, “Up and Comers,” addressed the challenge that high school is too late to address many problems of equity – data show that educational discrepancies start in the third grade. The team provided preliminary designs for a portal called “SPEAK.” SPEAK would house students’ academic information and provide a hub for dialogue among parents and guardians, students and teachers about academic choices and opportunities.

The third-place team, “Civic Data-Cation,” addressed the problem of policies that contribute to inequities. They decided to focus their efforts on the public education, and presented an idea for a website that analyzed data for an “equity report card” with information about Virginia’s elected officials. The website would include a way to share concerns with public officials.

Experts collaborated with the teams as they worked on their solutions in the competition, dubbed “Using Data and Analytics to Promote Equity in Education.” The teams were encouraged to develop new insights and design applications that address specific challenges that governments and community stakeholders face in achieving equity in education.

The competition aligns with the priorities outlined in the Henrico Learner Profile, HCPS’ blueprint for student instruction. The Henrico Learner Profile stresses “six Cs,” aiming for students to develop quality character, and be effective global citizens, communicators, collaborators, and critical and creative thinkers. The Datathon event also supports the school division’s focus on the Deeper Learning model, which states that learning happens anytime, anywhere; is authentic and connected; is student-owned; and is community-supported. Find out more by going to henricoschools.us and clicking on the “Henrico Learner Profile” graphic.

The competition was sponsored by the Virginia Department of Education, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, CapTech, GovInsight, Qlarion, Schoolzilla, AIS Network, Kearney & Company, Virginia Interactive and the Library of Virginia.

Teams featuring HCPS students:

“Runtime Terror” (Center for Information Technology at Deep Run HS)

  • Vidur Agaram
  • Kevin Du
  • Minsol Kim
  • Manasa Lagisetty
  • William Caudle (Deep Run HS technology education teacher)

“Up and Comers”

  • Niyah Nock-Barrow (Glen Allen HS)
  • Rachel Thornton (Douglas Freeman HS)
  • Kya Foxx (J.R. Tucker HS)
  • Lakshmi Ravulaparthi (Mills Godwin HS)
  • Jesse Senechal (director of the Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium at VCU)
  • Derek Anderson (Glen Allen HS math teacher)

“Civic Data-Cation”

  • Daisy Gonzalez (Highland Springs HS)
  • Ashwin Suresh (Douglas Freeman HS)
  • Wesley Tesfaye (Varina HS)
  • Rajit Tummala (Mills Godwin HS)
  • Johnathan Becker (associate professor in the School of Education at VCU)
  • Derek Podolny (Douglas Freeman HS math teacher)

“Same Difference”

  • David Lim (Douglas Freeman HS)
  • Daniel Bazianos (Douglas Freeman HS)
  • Kaeden Jackson Casey (Henrico HS)
  • Allyson Wang (Mills Godwin HS)
  • Alexandra Merritt (doctoral candidate in developmental psychology at VCU)
  • Katie Thayer (Douglas Freeman HS math teacher)