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Leading with Vision: Superintendent Vicki King’s Data-Driven Approach in Education

Success Stories, Video

During our Otus Regional Workshop in Salem, Wisconsin, we had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Vicki King, Superintendent of Salem School District. In our conversation, Vicki shared how the district has embraced data-driven tools to transform its educational approach. Leading the largest K-8 elementary school in the state, Vicki has focused on creating a nurturing, student-centered environment that equally supports educators. Her strategic decision to implement a comprehensive learning and data management system has helped her district to improve student outcomes and operational efficiency. Meet with the Otus team to see how Otus can support your school.

Three Insights About Making the Most of Your Student Data Platform from Vicki King

Gradual Introduction of Learning and Data Management Tools

When Vicki King took on her role at Salem School District, she quickly learned that they lacked a unified platform for learning and data management. Understanding the need for a system that could simplify access to student data, King introduced Otus based on her positive experiences with it in a previous role. The careful, phased rollout of Otus began with administrators and gradually extended to teachers. This approach ensured that the adoption of new technology matched the educators’ readiness, fostering natural interest and easing the concerns that often come with implementing a new system.

 

Boosting Teacher Confidence Through Reliable Tech Support

Adopting new systems can often lead to anxiety among staff, who may, understandably, worry about the challenges of learning new technology. To address these concerns, Vicki emphasised to her team Otus’ user-friendly nature and its exceptional support system, which promises quick assistance from experts. This strategy helped alleviate fears and encouraged teachers to engage with the platform, showing that strong support and resources are key to encouraging staff to use new technologies.

“I’ve seen other programs fail because the teachers or administrators don’t feel like they’re supported. Our staff is eager to learn about Otus because they know they’re going to get support when they have questions. And it’s so user-friendly. This is what stands out from any of the competitors that I’ve ever used – it’s just that responsiveness. They understand, because it’s made by teachers, that teachers are pulled in so many different directions.”

Dr. Vicki King

Superintendent, Salem School District

Leveraging Data for Informed Educational Decisions

A key goal for Salem School District is to ensure all students achieve and grow, which requires a detailed understanding of student data. To reach this goal, Vicki knew that the school needed to bring together diverse data points, such as attendance, standardized tests, and teacher assessments, into one accessible platform.

Otus presents student data in an accessible and actionable manner, enabling administrators and educators to make data-driven decisions.

Using Otus, the district has enabled more informed decisions at every level, improving instruction and helping to better understand the return on investment for educational programs.

Interview Transcript

Hillary Kleppel

Can you please tell us your name, your school, and your role?

Vicki King

All right. I am Vicki King. I am the superintendent of Salem School District in Wisconsin.

Hillary Kleppel

Amazing. Dr. Vicki King, tell us about Salem. What makes it so special? What do you love about it here?

Vicki King

Okay, so there’s a lot of things I love about it here. One of the unique things is Salem is the largest K8 elementary school in the state of Wisconsin, which is a smaller district than many other states. But for Wisconsin, we’re big. It’s very family friendly. The staff is amazing. Many were students here, and now they’re teachers here. Most supportive board I’ve ever worked with. It’s just all very student-centered and focused on doing what’s best for kids, and we want to make sure our teachers feel supported.

Hillary Kleppel

I love that. Special. Can you tell us about Salem’s journey with Otus? What were the pain points? How was the adoption with the community? What did it look like?

Vicki King

So, interestingly enough, I’ve had experience with Otus in a previous district, and what I loved about it in the previous district, and even when I was just a young administrator, I loved how intuitive the program was. And so when I came to this district, we really didn’t have a learning management system or a data management system that housed all of our data. And so we were going to a lot of different sites to look at information. And I’m like, well, I know a very cost effective program, and it’s intuitive, very responsive to feedback. And so that’s when I brought Otus here. And I would say, so the first year as administrator, we chose to do more of the handholding and presenting the information. Teachers had access to it, but we didn’t want to roll anything out too quickly. And when we would be in meetings and we’d present information out on a dashboard out of Otus, they’re like, well, I would like to see that in my classroom. Like, well, funny enough, you have access already. And so that slowly started to build interest at the teacher level. The board was excited that it was not too expensive.

Vicki King

And I think, yeah, as the superintendent I have to think about those things now. In previous roles, I was more like, just get it, because it’s great for teachers not really understanding that the cost was so efficient with all the things that it can do, and it just continues to add layers and layers of things that it’s integrating with. So it’s been a really positive transition for us from not having anything to having something and then having teacher leaders. And then we move them into more like district leaders, and run with it – it has been remarkable.

Hillary Kleppel

So good. So you touched on this a little bit, but being a former teacher, I know what kind of that buy-in looks like of being told, here’s something new to learn. What has that been like with your teachers? Have you gotten any pushback and then excitement?

Vicki King

I think there’s probably a little bit of anything that’s new sometimes brings the, like, what if I fail? I think the beauty of Otus is that they’ve got that little question mark or the little chat button that you can click on. So if you have a question someone’s going to answer within, like, 45 minutes at least and give you quick feedback and support. So I think where I’ve seen other programs fail is that the teachers don’t feel like they’re supported, or the administrators don’t feel supported from the back end. It’s so user-friendly. So the staff, they’re eager to learn because they know they’re going to get support when they have questions, both from Otus experts, and now we have internal Otus experts, so we don’t have to go far to get the support we need. And I would say that stands out from any of the competitors that I’ve ever seen. I had to kind of do some vetting in previous roles. That’s why Otus stands out to me most, is just that responsiveness to make sure that because they understand, because it’s made by teachers, that teachers are pulled in so many different directions, their response time.

Vicki King

I’ve never seen anything like it.

Hillary Kleppel

Yeah. We do pride ourselves on our client support.

Vicki King

Yeah.

Hillary Kleppel

And they’re all former educators. So all of us on the Client Success Team are former educators. We’ve been there. We have that relatability.

Vicki King

You can talk our language.

Hillary Kleppel

Yeah.

Vicki King

You understand.

Hillary Kleppel

 And you mentioned this before. So you were with another school district that also had Otus, and you brought Otus here. What was the journey? What stuck out to you that you needed to bring Otus here? And then with that, how have you seen the evolution of Otus from a few years ago to your year with Salem?

Vicki King

Oh, yeah. So part of our strategic plan is just to make sure our students are all achieving and growing at high levels, and so not having that data available here, there’s no way for us to track and monitor at the district level or at the board level. So initially, it was this sense of, I need to be able to look at all the information. I need to look at attendance. I need to be able to look at standardized assessments as well as teacher made assessment and make decisions on programs. I need to know if those programs have a return on investment as well. So the board needs this information to be good stewards of the monies that we have. So I would say that was the genesis for bringing it here. And what I already had known about it in the district I had actually brought it to in Illinois was all of just the teacher, intuitive and easability for them. I would say the things that have already I hear that are changing and just what I saw today in some of the platforms from the analytics, just this past board meeting, they were interested in how are some of the programs being used?

Vicki King

Well, now there’s an analytics side that I’m going to be able to show from our families interacting with Otus, our teachers, our students, when they give those other stakeholders access. I would say the other piece is looking at the different types of assessments and Craig is telling us that they can use AI to look at depth of knowledge. So I just love how I feel like Otus is cutting edge and it’s keeping up with not only what is best practice, but what’s current. And that’s what our students need, because ultimately those are the end users. They get to experience the product of it. So I’ve seen an evolution and it’s only for the better. If I loved it then, I’m like a geek out now.

Hillary Kleppel

We love it. We love our Otus nerds. Being about a year in now to Otus with Salem or multiple years over the past year, any administrator starting to adapt, what advice would you give them? What pain points to look out for? What are we excited about how to kind of adapt it all?

Vicki King

I would say give space for teachers to start messing around with it. Let them experience. I think the thing that got our teachers most excited when they could look at the gradebook and see its standards and then just say, take your time, you don’t have to do anything with this unless you want to. Some of the other pieces, like the student portfolio, they know it’s in there, but we’re not forcing any of that. We really used it for the entire first year on district information. Like we would push out information to them and slowly start to build the interest and then we layer in and I would encourage any administrator to start layering in this necessity for them to start putting data in. So one of the things that we did is if you want to bring up a student for MTSS or MLSS, whatever the districts call it in their state, you’re going to have to have your data, your standardized assessment in Otus for us to start pulling those data to have conversations about students. So, like, oh, wait, if I want to talk about this student, I need to have my data in Otus.

Vicki King

So now there’s a need, a requirement. So it created both last year. They had time and space to be comfortable, so, like, creating psychological safety around it. And then this year, we started to layer in. The expectation is, if you want us to talk about students, you’re going to have to have your data in Otus. And so now Craig meets pretty regularly with our director of teaching and learning to push into PLCs to give them really strong opportunities to create assessments and then tag standards with it, and then opportunities like this so they never feel like we’re asking them to do something without adequate support. 

Hillary Kleppel

I’m hearing space support and a little bit of that expectation in there, but still that love. Yep. Amazing. Thank you so much for your time today, Vicki. This was awesome, Dr. King, I appreciate it.

Vicki King

Thank you for being here. This is such an awesome opportunity for the area, too.

Hillary Kleppel

Yeah, well, we love our community, and we love that you guys love Otus, so we’ll be Otus nerds together. Woohoo.