University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Pro-Publica Education Database

In The View from the OEP on July 12, 2011 at 10:44 am

A new education database has been made available to the general public by the US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights. Pro-Publica has taken the data and developed an easy interface for non-statisticians.  According to the Pro-Publica website, “this analysis tracks data from the most comprehensive data set of access to advanced classes and special programs in the U.S. public schools” (Check out Methodology here). The database includes all public schools in districts with more than 3,000 students from the 2009-10 school year.  The purpose of the analysis is to provide information comparing how each state provides poorer and wealthier schools equal access to advanced classes that “researchers say will help them later in life.” You can search for the following information on the website:

  • AP courses
  • Gifted and Talented Programs
  • Advanced Math and Science Classes
  • Certification of Teachers
You can look a the data by:
  • Race
  • Disability Status
  • Gender
  • English proficiency
You can check out the data for yourself by going here. You can check by school and state.
How does Arkansas fare? 
The study looked at 39 districts (424 schools) from across the state.  You can check out school level data for Arkansas here. A few state level facts:
  • 54% get Free/Reduced Lunches
  • 25% Take at least one AP Course
  • 14% take Advanced Math
  • 11% Are in a GT Program
  • 20% Take Chemistry
  • 4% Take Physics
While this report is interesting, it’s of limited use to Arkansas. First of all, it only includes 39 districts–whereas many of our poor students reside in the other 200+ districts. Second, it gives us great information about how many kids have access to the programs and classes, but doesn’t really tell us much about student learning. A great next step might be to look into how well these student perform in AP classes. These of course, are just our thoughts. Check out the report, it is certainly interesting.
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