Teachers continue to seek the answer to the central question regarding education: What is the best way to reach students to help them learn? One method gaining acceptance is the system of standards-based grading (SBG). SBG is an educational innovation that focuses on learning and helps increase achievement. It is often combined with updated instructional practices and culture to better engage students and foster a positive environment.
Jesse Olsen, a former educator determined to engage students with active pedagogy, purposeful planning, and authentic learning experiences, began creating custom software tools for his New York City classroom. He then built a team of seasoned teachers and engineers to create a gradebook steeped in authentic assessment principles. Along with co-founder Justin Meyer, Olsen founded JumpRope, which helps school districts across the country transform their teacher practice and is now the premier partner for successful standards-based grading implementation.
JumpRope provides software that tailors teacher practice to the way students learn. The team’s background as educators combined with a strong track record of successful implementations is helping JumpRope facilitate a paradigm shift that empowers students, teachers, and entire school districts.
“Our product is about getting teachers to be really explicit about their students learning goals,” said Meyer, JumpRope’s Chief Executive Officer. “Our software helps teachers evaluate student work and enables them to provide feedback to students through standards-based grading.”
One of the critical components to the successful use of JumpRope’s software is ingesting large amounts of data. To streamline the data import process, JumpRope engaged Flatfile and implemented Flatfile’s data onboarding platform, its data import tool.
“Schools typically have too few people with too little training in charge of too many databases,” said Olsen, also the company’s Chief Technology Officer. “We store millions of rows of data involving scores, student information, assessments, standards, and emails. We operate with 68 different data types. Schools might have anywhere between 10 and 4,000 standards that need to be tracked. Getting this data from the school into our software can be a challenge.”
JumpRope employs a significant data onboarding process involving a Google Sheets template that schools must fill out manually. The data is then imported from Google Sheets into JumpRope. The problem became validating the mapping of the data to ensure it had been imported properly.
Olsen began the process of building a data importer but quickly decided against it.
“We built a basic importer but it wasn’t handling the validation process very well,” he said. “We considered rebuilding it but decided that the mapping of fields and validation of CSVs was not in our wheelhouse, so we chose to outsource it.
“We scoured the internet looking desperately for a solution so we wouldn’t have to build it ourselves,” said Meyer. “Fortunately we found that solution in Flatfile.”
“The greatest value of Flatfile is that we don’t have to think about text and coding and parsing the hundred different formats in which people might have saved their semi-structured data,” said Olsen. “Plus the Flatfile interface allows a customer to do some amount of cleaning, error checking, and error correction when they export their data.”
Olsen feels Flatfile fits in with JumpRope’s move to help make customers more self-sufficient.
“That’s the direction we’re going in as a company,” he said. “We used to do a lot of handholding and as we mature and grow, we have to provide tools to do less of that. Flatfile is helping us make that shift.”
The time savings for JumpRope as a result of using the Flatfile data importer has been significant.
“I would say the time we save has been substantial based on the ability of Flatfile’s data onboarding platform to quickly identify rows that are not importable or have errors,” said Hayley Tanler, Head of Customer Success at JumpRope. “Being able to detect and fix errors without having to wait for the entire import to run is ten times faster than it used to be. It could add up to hundreds of hours saved.”
The use of the Flatfile data importer has also expanded the range of data types JumpRope is able to import.
“We can now import all types of data,” said Meyer. “In the past when a customer asked us to import a different format we would have to say no. But with Flatfile, the development time to accommodate a new import is so much less we can say yes more often. It really increases the breadth of file types we can import.”
“Flatfile allows our users to be more self-sufficient by giving them the information they need to correct data mistakes,” said Tanler. “It helps them look at their data in a way they can understand and better work with.”
In addition to self-sufficiency for their users, having JumpRope’s customers interact more with their data files results in more long term benefits for the company.