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New from Stanford: The interactive Educational Opportunity Project for “educational epidemiology”

A new interactive data tool from the Educational Opportunity Project at Stanford University shares access to information about academic performance across public schools and districts throughout the United States.

Stanford’s Educational Opportunity Project

The platform offers educators, journalists, parents, and policymakers a way to explore and compare data from Stanford’s Education Data Archive (SEDA), the first comprehensive national database of academic performance.

SEDA includes a range of detailed data on educational conditions, contexts, and outcomes in school districts and counties across the United States. It includes measures of academic achievement and achievement gaps for school districts and counties, as well as district-level measures of racial and socioeconomic composition, racial and socioeconomic segregation patterns, and other features of the schooling system. The data are publicly available here, so that anyone can obtain detailed information about American schools, communities, and student success.

The data include demographic measures of racial and socioeconomic composition and segregation patterns and allow users to explore how students are performing by race, ethnicity, gender and family income and pinpoint disparities.

Included data. Educational Opportunity Project at Stanford University webinar

Based on eight years of data, Stanford’s Educational Opportunity Project presents three measures of educational opportunity that include and reach beyond test scores:

  • average test scores from birth through middle school;
  • learning rates (a key innovation of the platform)
  • trends in how much average test scores change each year

The new highly interactive tools encourage users to generate charts, maps, and downloadable PDFs to compare data on individual schools, districts or counties. Users may display a set of up to six location tabs at once.

The project’s director Sean Reardon, introduced the platform in a webinar this week.

Andrew Ho, a psychometrician with the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a leader of the development team described the value of being able to interact with this data:

If you imagine state tests are separate pieces of cloth, we have found a way to stitch them together in a patchwork quilt. The result is a national perspective on the geography of educational opportunity. It is an unprecedented view of how our kids are learning in public schools and districts.

Sean Reardon shared several examples of how the new tool might be used in research with the paper Is Separate Still Unequal? New Evidence on School Segregation and Racial Academic Achievement Gaps, a study that suggests it is poverty, not racial segregation that limits educational opportunity, and Affluent Schools Are Not Always the Best Schools, which shares that Chicago Public Schools are more successful than they are given credit for.

Data from: Affluent Schools Are Not Always the Best Schools
Profile of my former teaching district
My local district and former teaching district compared on an interactive map

In his webinar, Reardon explains that the purpose of the project is to understand broad patterns of educational opportunity–to understand what test scores might tell us about those opportunities, rather than individual differences. He sees the data being used as a form of educational epidemiology. The tool allows us to focus on communities. Beyond the measured results of schooling, it offers ways to consider test scores as the sum total of opportunities kids have had and the resources available to them in their communities. Students’ average abilities will not vary from one place to another, but their opportunities might very well vary from one place to another.

As school librarians, let’s consider how the interactive data presented in the Educational Opportunity Project might be used to address issues of equity, or educational epidemiology, and to support our own local advocacy work.

You may also be interested in the recently released 2019 SAT Suite of Assessments Program Results. The class of 2019 was the first to take the College Board’s full suite of SAT Assessments from grades 8/9 through 12.

Thanks to Gary Price for these Infodocket leads.

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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