Ajay Chatha ’23

KIPP Philadelphia Public Schools, Philadelphia, PA

This summer, I had the pleasure of working at KIPP Philadelphia in their regional office as a data and analytics intern. KIPP Selfie of Ajay ChathaPhilly is a part of a national charter school network, serving students from grades K-12, most of whom come from educationally underserved communities.

At the very beginning of my internship, I had the opportunity to participate in the KIPP Annual Data Retreat, which this year took the form of a weeklong virtual conference. This was an amazing opportunity for someone just getting into the field of data science, as the talks offered covered a breadth of topics, ranging from ethics and student privacy to designing multi-measure dashboards. One presentation that stuck with me was titled “Equity by Design,” and talked about what principles we can use to ensure that the reports and dashboards we design remain as equitable and inclusive as possible. Whether it was visualizing student math progress on Tableau, or contributing to a team meeting on different potential Covid-19 school year models, principles like designing at the margins and ceding power really helped remind me to center the work I was doing on the students we serve.

My day-to-day work often consisted of information tech-related and data entry tasks, like setting up ed-tech accounts, creating assessments, and organizing spreadsheets. The rest of my work had more to do with raw data analysis, which I found to be extremely rewarding. A data analysis project I especially enjoyed working on was an independent project, where I tried to see if student achievements on Zearn, a math exercise software, translated into higher scores on Eureka, our online math assessment software. The goal was to help teachers figure out how much they should be relying on Zearn to help students master specific concepts, which would be particularly helpful during a virtual school year. This project involved doing research on Pennsylvania Core and Common Core standards, organizing data in Excel, creating lookup tables, and using statistical analysis and data visualization to draw conclusions. While I was unable to finish the project before my internship was over, this was a great opportunity to exercise a lot of the skills I had learned throughout my internship.

While my internship focused on data and analytics, I knew going into this experience that I wanted to learn more about labor and education policy. To accommodate my interests, my supervisor included me in the High School Instructional Committee, which met to structure different school year models and prepare for a Covid-19 school year. This experience exposed me to how higher-level decision-making works in the educational field, and really cemented my passion for education and labor policy.

I would like to conclude by thanking Mike MacArthur, my supervisor at KIPP Philly, for introducing me to the field of data science and for being a wonderful mentor. I would also like to express my gratitude towards the ’68 Center for Career Exploration and Jeffrey Hines ’77 for making this experience at KIPP Philly possible.