ProPublica’s newest news app uses education data to get more social
Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights released a data set— the most comprehensive to date — documenting student access to advanced classes and special programs in public high schools. Shorthanded as the Civil Rights survey, the information tracks the availability of offerings, like Advanced Placement courses, gifted-and-talented programs, and higher-level math and science classes, that studies suggest are important factors for educational attainment — and for success later in life.
ProPublica reporters used the Ed data to produce a story package, “The Opportunity Gap,” that analyzes the OCR info and other federal education data; their analysis found among other things that, overall and unsurprisingly, high-poverty schools are less likely than their wealthier counterparts to have students enrolled in those beneficial programs. The achievement gap, the data suggest, isn’t just about students’ educational attainment; it’s also about the educational opportunities provided to those students in the first place. And it’s individual states that are making the policy decisions that affect the quality of those opportunities. ProPublica’s analysis, says senior editor Eric Umansky, is aimed at answering one key question: “Are states giving their kids a fair shake?”
The fact that the OCR data set is relatively comprehensive — reporting on districts with more than 3,000 students, it covers 85,000 schools, and around 75 percent of all public high schoolers in the U.S. — means that the OCR data set is also enormous. And while ProPublica’s text-based takes on the info have done precisely the thing you’d want them to do — find surprises, find trends, make it meaningful, make it human — the outfit’s reporters wanted to go beyond the database-to-narrative formula with the OCR trove. Their solution: a news app that encourages, even more than your typical app, public participation. And that looks to Facebook for social integration. [Read more...]
ProPublica’s newest news app uses education data to get more social,