Tag Archives: data

Get a quick snapshot of how your child’s school measures up

On Saturday, we will run a story about struggling schools in Kitsap and North Mason counties, as identified by the State Board of Education.

The schools, identified in the Washington State Board of Education’s achievement index among the state’s lowest performing schools, are Cedar Heights Junior High School in South Kitsap School District, Hawkins Middle School in North Mason School District, Fairview Junior High School in Central Kitsap School District and Central Kitsap’s Off Campus Program.

The good news is that these schools have made some progress over the past three years with financial help and professional guidance from the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. And they’ll continue to get that help, despite Washington State’s loss of a waiver under No Child Left Behind.

In the course of researching this story, I found a handy, dandy tool that every parent of a school-age child can find useful.

Low (and high) performing schools in Washington State are identified through data evaluated in the achievement index. About a year ago, the SBE complied the data (available in a jahonking Exel file if that’s your preference) into a user-friendly dashboard data tool that gives a visual snapshot of each school in the state.

I don’t think this data tool was widely publicized. At least I never saw a press release about it. So they may have given it a “soft rollout” as the saying goes. But maybe I’ve just been behind the curve. I do know that the state is moving toward better public access and transparency of data.

OSPI’s school and district report card, which offers a wealth of information, has been available for a long time. I use it regularly.

Find the achievement index here. From the main drop down window, select your district of choice, then your child’s school to view data on academic proficiency and growth among all students and subgroups of students who have historically lagged behind their grade level peers.

Notice that dark blue represents the highest tier, with dark green at the next level and light green in the middle. Orange and red signify the lowest tiers. Having orange or even red boxes doesn’t automatically raise a red flag, under the SBE’s high-low ID system, which takes into account data over past three years. The system also measures students’ relative academic growth rather than growth against a fixed standard, as under the federal No Child Left Behind standards.

In addition to struggling schools, the Board of Education also identified high performing schools, including 17 in Kitsap and North Mason, which were recognized by OSPI in April.

Crowdfunded classrooms in Kitsap, a data visualization

Dear Readers – In researching today’s story on crowdfunded classrooms, I found on the DonorsChoose.org website a data graphic that illustrates how the phenomenon of crowdfunding has caught on among teachers since 2000, when the organization was founded.

Crowdfunding — in which individuals collectively network to support specific causes, large and (often) small — really took off as movement in 2006. What started in the music industry has spread to many aspects of society, including civic engagement, innovation, health care and education.

I won’t rehash the story here. I will highlight how DonorsChoose has used its own data to create a visually descriptive graphic that website users can tailor to their own needs.

I’ll post the graphic below, because it didn’t display well on the story itself, and it’s really worth a gander.

The graphic shows in blips of light projects that have been funded over time. As the timeline moves from 2000 to the present, you can see growth of interest on the east coast (the founder is a teacher from New York City). Over the years it spreads to larger population centers on both coasts, including the greater Seattle region, then to more rural areas.

Brian Lewis, our IT guru, watched the yellow blips growing, and glowing red where the number of projects is piling up not by dozens but by hundreds. “It looks like a virus,” he said.

Hence the term “viral.”

Indeed it was visually engaging. And you could really see the growth accelerate in 2007 and 2008.

When I wanted to see what had gone on in Kitsap County, I was able to zoom in and see that the number of projects here has been in the dozens, not hundreds over the years. Sweet.

You’ve surely heard the over-worn phrase, “Data is the new black.” Well, my hat is off to analysts and online designers who can sift through a mountain of data to present trends and totals in a way the rest of us can easily grasp. The one was fairly simple in concept, but I’m sure it took considerable of work to do the coding.