Business Intelligence Transforms Online Education

The Business Need

An online public school was challenged with the following goals:

  • Increasing student retention rates;
  • Increasing student performance on state-administered tests;
  • Increasing student grades in the virtual classroom;
  • And increasing performance of students in targeted demographic areas like economic disadvantagement, ethnicity and special needs.

The client needed an integrated perspective across Education, Operations and Finance in order to better understand what factors led to increased student success, teacher success, and operational performance.

A High-Impact Approach

Centric gathered and conformed data across multiple business units and applications.  At the conclusion of the project the client owned a fully integrated, analytical perspective of their operations.

Centric developed a mature data model designed to manage data quality, integration, and provide high-performance analytics. The complexity of educational data combined with homegrown source systems presented a unique challenge that demonstrated Centric’s BI expertise.

Centric utilized the integrated components of the Microsoft Business Intelligence toolset for this project. Microsoft’s BI price/performance balance combined very well with the simple fact that the client already owned SQL Server licenses and had staff familiar with its interface and were quick to learn the BI-specific components.

Centric employed the following technologies:

  • SQL Server’s relational database engine for storage of data in the staging, data warehouse and data mart layers.
  • SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS), along with Centric’s pre-existing code accelerators, reduced the development and delivery time of literally hundreds of ETL packages to hours apiece rather than days or weeks.
  • SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) and Excel 2010 enabled advanced and interactive analytics by power users into previously segregated data sets, giving them access to integrated data that they never had before.
  • SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) for delivery and distribution of canned reports to operational users, placing the results of the power users’ broad insights into the hands of those most capable of using them.


The client now has an extensible foundation for analyzing how interdependent and seemingly independent activities impact student success, teacher success and operational performance across many dimensions.