Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Hooky Map of America

The Hamilton Project at Brookings has created an interactive map which visualizes the rates of chronic absence at every school in the country. Chronic absence is when a student misses 10% or more of school. Students who miss this amount of schooling are academically at risk.

Individual schools on the Chronic Absence Map are colored to show the percentage of the students who have a record of chronic absence. The red markers show the schools with the highest percentage of chronic absence and the yellow markers those with the lowest. If you click on individual schools on the map you can view the school ratings for a number of other educational outcomes, for example math / English proficiency, the student / teacher ratio and the rate of teacher attendance.

The map also looks at community factors that affect learning in each zip-code area. On the map zip-code areas are colored to show the level of community support for learning. Zip-code areas colored light blue have more supportive community conditions and zip-codes areas with a darker blue have less supportive community conditions. The level of community support is defined by such factors as the share of children living in poverty, household medium income and local employment rates.

One community factor that the Brookings' map doesn't consider is the rate of school funding. The amount of money that schools have can obviously effect levels of learning. To find out how much each school district spends on education you can instead refer to another interactive map. NPR has created a map which visualizes how much each school district in the USA spends on individual students. Why America's Schools Have A Money Problem colors each school district based on the level of school spending in the district per individual student.

The map shows that local funding is usually dependent on the levels of local property taxes. If a district has a number of successful businesses contributing a lot of money through property taxes then the school district is more likely to have higher levels of school spending per student. In essence schools in affluent areas are likely to be much better funded that schools in less-affluent areas.

Unfortunately the data on the NPR map is a little old now. The NPR map shows spending per student for each school district in the 2013 fiscal year.

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