Say “Hello” to an Engaging and Interactive Way to Become a Better Data Quality Influencer

In the spring of 2022, IDC debuted its first-ever Hands-On Learning Academy (HOLA) in Cincinnati, OH, featuring our EDFacts Edit Check and Data Display Tools. Then, based on that success, we relaunched the HOLAs this winter, with our first HOLA of 2023 taking place in Rockville, MD, on February 22–23, and featuring the Preschool Environments Toolkit.

At the Preschool Environments HOLA, participants were able to dig more deeply into SPP/APR Indicator 6. Preschool Environments. They began by focusing on the indicator’s unique elements, such as its data processes, before moving on to analyzing Indicator 6 data using IDC’s Preschool Environments Toolkit. The informal setting of the HOLA allowed state participants to engage in multiple team-level discussions as well as receive one-on-one assistance from IDC TA providers as they investigated the toolkit.

HOLAs are designed to be small, invitation-only events, so only a few states had the opportunity to join us in February, but their comments and feedback have us really excited for the next HOLA event in April. As IDC and states plan for future HOLAs, we want to make sure participants know what to expect from these gatherings. Let’s take a deeper look at the “whos,” “whats,” and “whys” of this unique IDC TA learning opportunity through the lens of our Preschool Environments event.

WHO Comes to an HOLA?

HOLAs are small and targeted by design. In February, 13 participants from 6 states joined us at Westat’s state-of-the-art Rockville, MD, campus. We invited state participants based on priorities they had shared with IDC and their expressed interest in deeper learning, as well as recommendations from IDC State Liaisons. Participants included the Part B data managers, SPP/APR indicator leads, and other members of the state’s data team.

WHAT Is an HOLA Really Like?

An HOLA is not a lecture or a conference. Instead, it’s more like an interactive learning lab dedicated to helping participants deeply understand not only the tools and resources the HOLA is featuring but how to apply those tools and resources to analyzing and using their state’s data.

In February, that meant taking an in-depth look at IDC’s Preschool Environments Toolkit, including spending time analyzing and discussing sample data, as well as participating in discussions about data quality alongside a review of each state’s own Indicator 6 data analysis process. We also discussed and shared resources for developing data teams, focusing on the tools available in IDC’s Data Meeting Toolkit.

After the February HOLA, participants were happy to share their experiences. Take a look at the following excerpts from their evaluations:

This was not what I expected. I expected it to be dull and to be talked at about data. I didn’t expect it to be fun! It was so rich and active; the time just flew by. I got so much out of this experience. I’m coming away from these two days with several big ideas.

We didn’t realize it would be so small and intimate. It was a great opportunity to build stronger relationships with our colleagues and fellow states while digging into a focused topic.

WHY Should You Join Us?

While our February HOLA really helped participants drill down into Indicator 6, the best way to get the most benefit from the HOLA experience is to choose a topic that is particularly relevant to your state and your position within it.

Following the Preschool Environments HOLA, participants shared more about the specific value that this experience provided them and why they valued the time they spent in Rockville:

The HOLA provided a safe space where we could be honest and share where we were in our state. We got to talk with similar roles from other states and hear their ideas and perspectives. It also gave us an opportunity for dedicated time with our state colleagues to dig into the data, explore why we are doing what we are doing and how we can do better.

We didn’t just look at the data and learn a new tool or strategy. We went deeper. We explored the why behind the data and are leaving with a deeper understanding of why the data matters and how it impacts the work that we do.

Learn More About IDC’s Future HOLA Events

Want to learn more about upcoming HOLA events that will help your state achieve its data goals? Contact your IDC State Liaison today.

-- Christina MacDonald & Carol Seay