Another way to show the information in a divergent bar chart, like the one I posted a few days ago, is in a split bar chart. Datawrapper staff wrote a blog post not recommending divergent bar charts, so they only offer a split bar chart.

I put together this split bar chart to get a better idea of what the Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program (MCAP) results would look like displayed in this manner. In addition to the five score levels, I added a percent proficient column which is level 4 and level 5 added together. Percent proficient is reported in the official data chart and shown in the official column charts developed by the Maryland State Department of Education for the Maryland Report Card. The percent proficient is shown in green on the right of the centerline in my divergent bar chart.

I’m not sold that a split bar chart is always superior to a divergent bar chart. Especially when the data has categories that are distinctly good or bad and no awkward middle neutral category. However, I like the split bar chart. I especially like that it can be easily sorted by percent proficient, which includes levels 4 and 5. For this data, the percent proficient is more important than the percentage of students at each level.

I find it interesting that the percent proficient ranges from nearly 70% to less than 20%. With such a large gap, it is likely that there are methods that can be learned from the higher-performing counties to increase scores (and hopefully ultimately learning) in the lower-performing counties.

Notes About the Data

  • Values listed as 5.0% are acutally less than or equal to 5.0%. I am not sure if there is a way to show uncertain values in Datawrapper bar charts. In education data with small populations is often repressed. I could probably back into some of these numbers but I have not for this chart as the goal is to look at the data visualization.

I do not really know how to code. I am primarily a policy analyst who just loves data. I have been having trouble getting the demo version of a Divergent Stacked Bar Chart to render using the Amcharts plugin. My googling led me to this simple answer on StackOverflow regarding D3. I tried it with a D3 demo. It worked! First, try. I tried it with Amcharts. Once I got the file saved properly (I am missing something when combining all the pieces that I still have not yet figured out), it worked! So even if I do not know what is wrong with the Amcharts plugin for some of these types of charts, I can make it work. It takes longer and it is harder to debug, but if I want to do it I can.

Here is the code I used. Just change the URL to the URL of the code that you uploaded to your media section of the WordPress site.

  style="border: 0px;"

Here is the graph. I used the 2019 Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program (MCAP) data from 2019.

As I was working on trying to figure out how to make this graph render I read that is controversial and is not considered a good way to visualize data. But by that point, I was too far in. I wanted to see how it looked and judge for myself. I have not made any conclusions about the data or the visualization yet. I am just happy I figured out how to make the code work. This experience also means I will be able to try out D3 visualizations, which is a whole other rabbit hole. Enough explanation. I am going to test this webpage and take it live. The analysis is for another day.

Sources: Maryland State Department of Education, MCAP ELA and Math Performance Data.

In line with my interest in masking policies in public schools, I decided to map outbreak-associated cases in schools as reported by the Maryland Department of Health to check out the geolocation mapping feature of Datawrapper. As far as using the geolocation, it was super easy. I googled the address and pasted it into the correct box. I assume that the locations are generally accurate. It seems less precise than ArcView, but it seems to work well for when you are just trying to get a sense of the data. It did not that too long to enter the data for this number of locations. It would take a while if there were more locations. It would be much quicker if I had a spreadsheet with all the addresses of schools in the State pre-made and ready to go. I believe that there might be an official list of the public schools available. If I were to do this in the future I would explore using that existing spreadsheet.

I wish that I could add a choropleth map behind the location map to add another level of data details. I know it can be done with Arcview. But what you gain in usability you lose in features.

If you are wondering like I was about the outbreak at Quince Orchard when the school is not even open yet. The answer was found in this news article. Apparently, there was an outbreak in the football team which I assume has started practicing for the fall season.

Notes About the Data

These notes are copied from the Maryland Department of Health website.

Note: This dataset reflects public and non-public K-12 schools in Maryland that have COVID-19 outbreaks. Data are based on local health department reports to MDH, which may be revised if additional information becomes available. This list does not include child care facilities or institutes of higher education. Schools listed meet 1 or more of the following criteria:

Classroom/cohort outbreak definition:    1) At least two confirmed COVID-19 cases among students/teachers/staff within a 14-day period and who are epidemiologically linked, but not household contacts; or

School-wide outbreak definition:    

2) Three or more classrooms or cohorts with cases from separate households that meet the classroom/cohort outbreak definition that occurs within 14 days; or
 3) Five percent or more unrelated students/teachers/staff have confirmed COVID-19 within a 14 day period (minimum of 10 unrelated students/teachers/staff).

Cases reported reflect the current total number of cases. Schools are removed from the list when health officials determine 14 days have passed with no new cases and no tests pending. Archival data is available through the COVID-19 open data catalogue. These data are updated weekly on Wednesdays during the 10 a.m. hour. MDH is continuously evaluating its data and reporting systems and will make updates as more data becomes available.

I pulled data at noon on August 25, 2021, to make the above map. As I discuss locations are approximate. I provided the information on whether a school is public or private. All errors are my own. This map is not official, it is primarily for the purpose of me exploring the visualization features and keeping track of what I learned.

The Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program (MCAP) are the assessments that are used to meet federal Early Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) assessment requirements. MCAP has five score levels, a student who scores at level 4 or 5 is considered proficient on the material. Because of the pandemic, the MCAP was last administered in 2019.

I used data from the Maryland Report Card website to look at the percentage of students who are certified eligible for free and reduced-price meals compared to all students who took the assessment. I choose Math 5 because I wanted a group of students that had been in the school system for some time and to only capture first-time test takers. Also generally in middle school, a subsection of students start taking the Algebra I assessment (because they take Algebra) and thus are not included in the grade-level assessment. The data reports percentages of students, not the number of students. Thus, I can not easily calculate the non-FARMS subgroup, which might be a better comparison group since FARMS students are included in the all students category.

To bring some type of order to the data I reverse sorted it by all students. From a data visualization point of view I think this is an effective way of looking at the data. There is a lot of data, but it is easy to read and all of the counties are on the same chart. I wish I could better highlight the State average data with vertical lines or bolded dots, but I do not think that is an option in this software.

As the masking requirements for public schools changed so does my map. This time I figured out how to link sources in the tooltips. Tooltips are apparently what you call the hover-over information. I like having clear sources for my visualizations it is important that I can retrace my steps and I would like others to be able to retrace my steps. This is especially important because I work with so many sources of data and my products often have a quick turnaround time.

Sometimes I get to use my new skills to build something that is actually useful for real people. I made this map for the Maryland General Assembly to help keep track of the State’s public schools masking requirements. As a nonpartisan analyst my job is to provide clear nonpartisan information. I love how easy this map was to make on the technical side. I also like that I could add tooltips easily.

Update: Here is proof that someone important found the map useful.

Today I am taking a look at the dual enrollment data published by the Maryland Longitudinal Data System (MLDS) Center.

According to the data, 85% of 12 graders in the 2018-2019 student year who earned dual enrollment credits between 9th and 12th grades (academic years 2015-2016 to 2018-2019) enrolled in college in fall 2019. Of those who enrolled in college: 36% enrolled in an in-State community college; 35% enrolled in an in-State (public or private) four-year college; and 28% enrolled in an out-of-state college. This is showed in the Sankey diagram below.

I wish I could match up the dual enrollment students with the general student population. It would be nice to see if the behavior of students that dually enrolled differs from the general student population. I will take a deeper look at the data in the future to see if I can use math to make any conclusions.

As of yet MLDS Center has not yet published the general college enrollment data for the 2018-2019 cohort year. However, typically, 50% or less of high school graduates immediately enroll in college. Thus, students that participate in dual enrollment programs (unsurprisingly) seem to enroll in college at a higher rate than students generally.

Source: Maryland Longitudinal Data System Center, dual enrollment courses and credits: 2018-2019

According to the data set, of the 6,237 students that enrolled in-State following participation in a dual enrollment program, 3,012 in-state students, or 48%, enrolled at the college of dual enrollment. A further 2,936 in-state students, 47%, participated in a dual enrollment program at a community college and enrolled at an in-state four-year institution.

notes about the Data

  • The data shows data on the college enrollment patterns for 2018-2019 12th grade high school students with dual enrllment activity at any point between 9th and 12th grade. The initial population was selected by identifying studetns who had noth a high school enrollment and a college enrollment recored in the 2018-2019 academic year (fall to spring). Summer enrollment information was excluded from this analysis.
  • This diagram is the result of me exploring the limits of the data and the graphing software. The numbers and math have not been checked.