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From Left: Eric Hamby, Tim Jacobs and Rob Rolleston of Xerox; David Lago and Christopher Buck; and Tony Parham, Massachusetts Government Innovation Officer.

From Left: Eric Hamby, Tim Jacobs and Rob Rolleston of Xerox; David Lago and Christopher Buck; and Tony Parham, Massachusetts Government Innovation Officer.

The Mass EduData Challenge, a multi-week open data competition, revealed the competition winners at an Award Ceremony on Tuesday, July 15th at hack/reduce in Cambridge, MA. The education-centered civic hacking competition challenged participants to create valuable insights by leveraging anonymized public data sets maintained by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

The Massachusetts EduData Challenge is a first-of-its-kind data challenge and is part of the Patrick Administration’s commitment to changing the way government does business and increasing transparency. The event, part of the Governor’s Mass Big Data Initiative, was organized in partnership with DESE, the Office of the Government Innovation Officer of Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. Sponsors of this inaugural Challenge included hack/reduce, HubSpot, LearnLaunch and Socrata.

During the award ceremony at hack/reduce (which was established in partnership with Governor Patrick’s Administration), competitors and representatives from the Commonwealth actively exchanged ideas and aspirations for the role of open data in the state. Since the May 28th kickoff event, Mass EduData Challenge participants diligently worked to aggregate, analyze, and visualize the DESE educational datasets, with the goal of enhancing educational tools and outcomes. DESE Commissioner Mitchell Chester announced the winners and presented the prizes. Also present were partners and sponsors representing the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, DESE, the Executive Office of Education (EOE), HubSpot, LearnLaunch, Socrata and the Commonwealth’s Government Innovation Officer (GIO), Antonio (“Tony”) Parham.

Xerox team with Commissioner Chester on far right.

Xerox team with Commissioner Chester on far right.

A team headed by Rob Rolleston, representing Xerox, created an interactive map tool to visualize and compare Massachusetts educational data sets with U.S. Census data. The application allows users to explore the school districts of Massachusetts, where the color of the district represents the data available for the district compared to all other districts across the state. Users can view the maps with comparisons such as SAT scores versus income. The tool won in two categories: “Most Visually Compelling” and “Crowd Favorite”. The other team members included: Tim Jacobs, Bill Stumbo, Catherine McCorkindale, Rahul Paul, Kovendhan Ponnavaikko, Kundan Shrivastava, Eric Hamby, Om Deshmukh, and Charlene Watt.

Christopher Buck and David Lago receive award from Commissioner Chester

Christopher Buck and David Lago receive award from Commissioner Chester

Another team, consisting of David Lago and Christopher Buck, created an API (application programming interface) and aggregated the educational data into a single database. The API makes it significantly easier for developers to create useful applications with the DESE-supplied data. The contributions from this team won them the “Collaborative Data Contribution” prize.

Commissioner Chester presents award to a representative of the City Year team, Erica Manoppo

Commissioner Chester presents award to a representative of the City Year team, Erica Manoppo

A team of five City Year members (Erica Manoppo, Ashley Kurth, Gretchen Biesecker, Brendan Longe, and Jessica Tau) created an interactive visualization to explore data on girls’ achievement in STEM education. The tool enables users to explore the participation and performance of girls in STEM education in across the Commonwealth, including detailed visualizations on participation in AP exams along with MCAS Science, Technology, and Engineering data. The team was awarded the “Best Use of Data” prize.

The Mass EduData Challenge was successful in bringing together government and developer communities to generate insights into educational data and to suggest future development directions. Providing open data to the public creates opportunities for innovative citizens to create powerful new tools and solutions to complex challenges.

Additional information regarding the event and these talented civic innovators can be seen at the official data challenge page.

Written By:


Digital Communications Intern
Megan Schatzman manages digital communications for the Office of the Government Innovation Officer (OGIO). She is also a dual degree candidate for both Marketing and Information Systems at Suffolk University. Megan is passionate about innovation and the effective utilization of multiple digital media channels. She has 5 years of experience in strategic social media usage and is a recipient of the Xerox Award for Innovation and Information Technology.

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