How Moving to R Enabled Reading Partners to Engage More Deeply with Their Data

Reading Partners works across the United States, engaging and training volunteer tutors to provide elementary school students with individualized reading support.

The three-person data and evaluation team at Reading Partners was relying nearly exclusively on Excel and Google Sheets to analyze data collected across the organization. Through complex formulas, they had been able to automate elements of their processes, but these spreadsheet tools could be tedious and laborious to maintain, leaving the data and evaluation team little time to conduct more sophisticated analyses or engage with internal stakeholders to build data utilization capacity, both of which are essential for Reading Partners to truly achieve its vision of being a data-driven organization.

… these spreadsheet tools could be tedious and laborious to maintain, leaving the data and evaluation team little time to conduct more sophisticated analyses or engage with internal stakeholders to build data utilization capacity

The data and evaluation team at Reading Partners had tried to learn R through online courses, but had struggled to apply the course content to their work. They reached out to me, and together we developed a custom training package to meet their specific needs.

Over several months of work, data and evaluation team learned to clean, analyze, and visualize data — and present their results in multiple visually appealing dashboards. Among other projects, the team is now using R to run monthly and weekly dashboards, complete daily uploads of assessment data, and generate mailing lists, and they look forward to leveraging R on more projects in the future.

The best part of all: the process is now automated.

The best part of all: the process is now automated. Any time new data comes in, they simply rerun their code and produce a new dashboard. This is exactly the sort of automation that will free the team up to focus on higher-level analysis and deeper thinking about how data can inform the mission of Reading Partners.  

Moving to R promises to transform the work of Reading Partners, and Senior Director of Data, Evaluation, and Learning Kate Smiles has been extremely pleased with the results. “You are magical,” she wrote in an email. “I am so grateful that we found you.”

You are magical. I am so grateful that we found you.

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Kate Smiles

Reading Partners

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Interested in learning more about how your team can move to R? Read about my custom training options or drop me a line.