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Welcome to school {of data}

By: Adin Dobkin

This organization has an interesting relationship with data and its use in education.  More frequently than not, I would tend to push for a weakened reliance on data in education – at least in the manner that we pursue in this country.  As we continue to force methods in which to quantify the abstract, qualitative, and otherwise human processes of learning, we fall victim to a host of problems like the streetlight effect.  To put it simply, we focus on the destination rather than the journey – in this case with sometimes unintended consequences.

That being said, I will not devalue the role that some forms of data can play in gaining a clearer image of the proverbial bigger picture.  It was with this fact in mind that I started collecting various datasets related to domestic and international education systems.  It is our hope that by mapping out and simplifying these data, we can start to see trends and the ways in which to take advantage of these trends.  Don’t worry, we have no anticipation of becoming the next de Moivre and leave you in the dark with complex formulas, regressions, and the like, but we do hope to leverage basic visualizations, infographics, and interactive charts to create a database that we all can use for better education policies.

A simple example can be found below where we look at a heatmap of graduation rates in the various counties of California.  While this map in and of itself doesn’t necessarily offer us any new outlook on education in the state (the raw data can be found on the CA Department of Education website), we hope to eventually generate new insights from the integration of these sorts of data.

As always, we hope you’ll tune into the conversation as we build a better graphical picture of education in our country.