The 2024 Session is about to begin, so I am bookmarking data sources I frequently use to write fiscal and policy notes for the Maryland General Assembly. I am doing this to find the sources easily during Session, and I will add sources as I remember them.

Data Sources

In November 2023, the U.S. Department of Education released new data about bachelor’s degree completion rates for transfer students. I have been interested in transfer students for years and it is a topic that I want to better understand. I use this blog to remember the data I read about and capture my initial thoughts. It is also a place for me to explore using data visualization tools.


The researchers defined a dyad as a pair of institutions consisting of a public community college and a public or private four-year institution. The data only includes pairs where at least 30 students enrolled in the community college in 2014 and at least 30 students transferred and graduated from the four-year institution in at least 8 years. Nationally they identified 385 dyads, of which 8 were in Maryland.

Success of DYADS

Montgomery College belongs to four of the eight dyads in Maryland, showing that Montgomery College has a robust transfer program.

Maryland’s most successful dyad is students who transferred from Wor-Wic Community College to Salisbury University; 10% of students who transferred using that pathway graduated with a bachelor’s degree. Nationally, there were only 18 dyads with completion rates of more than 10%. The most successful dyad, Tri-County Technical College X Clemson University, had a completion rate of 20%. Kapiolani Community College X University of Hawaii at Manoa had a completion rate of 16%. Followed by four dyads with a completion rate of 13%, four dyads with a completion rate of 12%, and eight dyads with a completion rate of 11%.

Size of Transfer Programs

In addition to the completion rate of students transferring in a dyad, it is interesting to examine the size of a dyad program because in my mind a truly successful dyad will have both a high completion rate and be the "right" size. What the "right" size is I'm not sure of yet, but of a size that shows that is sufficient to support the continued transfer of students and meets the needs of the students.

The largest number of students transferred from the Community College of Baltimore County to Towson University (2,282). It looks like all transfer students from Montgomery College who transferred to a four-year institution are counted in all four Montgomery College dyads, since the number of transfer students in the denominator is 1,856 for all four dyads. This is not something I fully understood when first looking at the data. If this is true, Montgomery College has a very high total completion rate of nearly 17%.

I experimented to make a chart showing both the number of students who transferred to a four-year institution and the number of students who completed a bachelor's degree. I sorted it by percentage of students who completed a bachelor's degree. I believe the chart works fairly well at illustrating all the data, and it helped me see the potential issue with the Montgomery College data at the same time.

I continue to explore using AI in the context of education policy. Today I asked AI for a list of 10 influential books about education policy. Since I focused on environmental policy, not education policy in graduate school I have not read very many books about education policy outside specific topics. From this list, it seems like I have some reading to do during this interim. I have read articles by many of the authors listed, but I have not yet read most of these books. Out of this list, I have read books number 6 (The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner) and 7 (Why Knowledge Matters by E.D. Hirsch Jr.). I have also read Most Likely to Succeed by Tony Wagner.

  1. Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools by Diane Ravitch (2013)
    • A critique of education policies in the United States and argues for a more equitable and democratic approach to education.
  2. The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education by Diane Ravitch (2010)
    • Critiques the rise of market-based education reform policies, such as high-stakes testing and school choice, and argues for a return to a more traditional, community-based approach to education.
  3. The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America by Jonathan Kozol (2006)
    • Explores the continued segregation of America’s public schools and the ways in which low-income students and students of color are denied equal educational opportunities
  4. Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools by Jonathan Kozol (1991)
    • A study of the disparities in education funding and resources between affluent and impoverished schools in the United States
  5. The New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World In Flux by Cathy N. Davidson (2017)
    • Argues for a radical redesign of higher education that focuses on project-based learning, collaboration, and interdisciplinary approaches to better prepare students for a rapidly changing world
  6. The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don’t Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need — and What We Can Do About It by Tony Wagner (2008)
    • Examines the gap between traditional school curricula and the skills that students need to succeed in the modern global economy, and offers suggestions for how educators can better prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century.
  7. Why Knowledge Matters: Rescuing Our Children from Failed Educational Theories by E.D. Hirsch Jr. (2016)
    • Argues for a curriculum that emphasizes foundational knowledge across subject areas, as well as the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills, to ensure that all students have access to a well-rounded education.
  8. The Testing Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better by Daniel Koretz (2017)
    • Exposes the negative consequences of high-stakes testing on American education and argues for a more honest and equitable approach to student assessment.
  9. The Beautiful Struggle: A Memoir by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2008)
    • A memoir that explores the author’s coming-of-age in Baltimore during the 1980s and 1990s, and his experiences navigating a flawed educational system while seeking to define his own identity and values
  10. Teaching as a Subversive Activity by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner (1969)
    • a seminal work that challenges traditional models of education and encourages teachers to engage their students in critical thinking and questioning of authority.

I have been very busy recently. But today I decided to play around with the new AI software to see what type of information it can give about education policy.

With the Supreme Court set to hear arguments about President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan today, I have been thinking about education court cases.

So I asked: “What are the top 10 Supreme Court cases related to education?”

Here are ten Supreme Court cases that have had a significant impact on education in the United States:

  1. Brown v. Board of Education (1954): This landmark case declared that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional, paving the way for desegregation efforts throughout the country.
  2. Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969): This case affirmed that students have a First Amendment right to free speech, even while in school.
  3. New Jersey v. T.L.O. (1985): This case addressed the issue of students’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures in the context of school searches.
  4. Plyler v. Doe (1982): This case established that states cannot deny education to undocumented immigrant children.
  5. Grutter v. Bollinger (2003): This case upheld the use of affirmative action in college admissions as a way to achieve diversity.
  6. Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier (1988): This case clarified the extent of a school’s authority to regulate student speech in school-sponsored activities, such as school newspapers.
  7. Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 (2007): This case addressed the use of race in school assignment plans, striking down certain plans that used race as a factor.
  8. Board of Education v. Earls (2002): This case addressed the constitutionality of drug testing students who participate in extracurricular activities.
  9. Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe (2000): This case addressed the constitutionality of school-sponsored prayer at public high school football games.
  10. Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002): This case upheld the constitutionality of school voucher programs, which allow public funds to be used for private school tuition.

Overall, I think these are solid picks, but I will have to do more research to decide if these are my top 10 picks. I think that generating a list of topics to research more deeply is an appropriate use of this technology, although I would have to carefully check any summaries.

I have been curious about the teacher pipeline in Maryland. So I did what I do when I have a question, I started looking for the available data.

So, I looked at the data published by the Maryland State Department of Education on the prior experience of new hires. According to the data, 58% (2,513) of newly hired Maryland teachers are new to teaching, 19% worked in another state (or the District of Columbia or Porta Rico) just prior, 13% worked in another Maryland county, 9% worked in a Maryland nonpublic school, and the remaining worked in another county or at the SEED School. This data set does not have information about the preparation of new teachers, so I do not know if they received their teaching training at a Maryland institution of higher education or in another state or country. When I have time I will look at other sources of data.

Today I decided to take a quick look at the percentage of all students who score proficient on the Statewide science assessment.

I also did the same map for economically disadvantaged students.

After looking at the maps I put them on the same color scale.

I believe this shows all test takers, both first-time and retakers, I wish they would separate them.

The first map below shows the percent of all test takers who were proficient (level 4 or 5) on the Grade 10 English/Language Arts Exam for the 2020-2021 academic year. The second map shows the percent of economically disadvantaged students who were proficient on the same exam during the same period. The all-student map includes the economically disadvantaged students. The definition of economically disadvantaged is not immediately clear from the data. The definition was not included in the “definitions” section of the website. There is a separate measure, which includes more students, for “FARMS”-(free-and-reduced priced meal.” I assume that it is students “eligible” for free-and-reduced priced meals, but that is not specified either. The third map shows the percentage of non-economically disadvantaged students who were proficient on the exam.

I put these maps together to see if there were schools that had high test scores for the full student body but were less successful for economically disadvantaged students. The problem I ran into, which isn’t really shown in the maps, is that the schools with really high test scores overall, like Severa Park, have only a few economically disadvantaged students overall.

All Students

Economically Disadvantaged Students

Non-economically Disadvantaged

I found a new dataset today. It shows the number and percentage of students that are promoted in high school every year.

The map shows the percentage of 2020-2021 grade 9 students that were not promoted to grade 10.

Played around with showing Non-FARMS High School graduates who earn a college degree by age 25. The Maryland Longitudinal Data System Center publishes the data as a percentage of high school graduates that enroll in college. I used their published numbers to see the total high school graduates. I was originally interested in FARMs students, but the data was repressed for most of the schools.

As always this is just me exploring the data that is available. I am trying to make sense of the data and be able to remember the information.

I am exploring using a map to display college enrollment data for Anne Arundel County. Unfortunately, I only have a shapefile that includes Crofton HS, which is a new school, so the boundaries do not reflect the boundaries at the time. The are other specialized high schools in the county that are not reflected in the data. Since I haven’t done mapping in a while I had to remember how to upload the data, but I figured it out pretty quickly.