Refining the Pipeline

I spent yesterday trying to figure out how to create a divergent stacked bar chart in amcharts that would display properly on my website, which is based in WordPress. I was unsuccessful. I will need to continue reading through the documentation which is written for people who actually know how to code. Since I got frustrated with my original project, I decided to return to the immediate college enrollees pipeline again to refine it as I learn more about how amcharts operate.

This version of the Sankey diagram is a bit more readable. I was able to wrap the label text and add more space on the right-hand side. I also added code that will allow the data or the image to be downloaded, which I think is a cool feature. I am still having a bit of an issue getting the amcharts diagrams to display as part of the blog, but they work when looking at an individual post. I also added int the percentage numbers, each of which had to be separately added. I have read in the documentation that it is possible to load data into an amcharts from an external source, such as a spreadsheet, but I have not yet figured it out.

As with other versions of this diagram, the biggest weakness is that it does not capture transfer students.

Immediate College Enrollees Pipeline

Overall 65% of students that enrolled in college directly after high school graduation graduated college, from the same sector, by age 25. An additional 3% of students were still enrolled in college (in the same sector). Looked at another way only 31% of high school graduates graduated from college from the same sector that they enrolled in.

Click here if you can not see the diagram.

Source: Maryland Longitudinal Data System, Maryland Public School Pathways 2011

Notes about the Data

  • These notes are adapted from the notes provided by the Maryland Longitudinal Data System. Any errors are my own.
  • To be counted as a community college graduate, the student must have enrolled in any community college and graduated from any community college. Students who start at a community college but graduate from a college in another sector are not counted as graduates. Students who start in another sector but graduate from a community college are also excluded. To be counted as persisting (still in college), the student must have NOT graduated from any community college and be enrolled in any community college in Fall 2019. Some students who enrolled in community college transferred from the college and are enrolled in another four-year public, state-aided independent, or out-of-state institutions. Those students are not reported here.
  • To be counted as a public-four year college graduate, the student must have enrolled in any four-year public and graduated from any four-year public. Students who start at a four-year public but graduate from a college in another sector are not counted as graduates. Students who start in another sector but graduate from a four-year public are also excluded. To be counted as persisting (still in college), the student must have NOT graduated from any four-year public and be enrolled in any four-year public in Fall 2019. Some students who enrolled in a four-year public transferred from the college and are enrolled in another community college, state-aided independent institutions, or out-of-state institutions. Those students are not reported here.
  • To be counted as a State-aided indepented college graduate, the student must have enrolled in any state-aided independent institutions and graduated from any state-aided independent institution. Students who start at a state-aided institution but graduate from a college in another sector are not counted as graduates. Students who start in another sector but graduate from a state-aided independent institution are also excluded. To be counted as persisting (still in college), the student must have NOT graduated from any state-aided independent institutions and be enrolled in any state-aided independent institutions in Fall 2019. Some students when enrolled in a state-aided independent institutions transferred from the college and are enrolled in another community college, public, or out-of-state institutions. Those students are not reported here.
  • The out-of-state table above evaluates within sector college graduation independent of college of enrollment. To be counted as a college graduate, the student must have enrolled in out-of-state institutions of any type and graduated from an out-of-state institution of any type. Students who start at an out-of-state institution but graduate from a college in Maryland are not counted as graduates. Students who start at a college in Maryland but graduate from an out-of-state institution are also excluded. Out-of-state institutions may be community colleges, public four-year, or other types of private institutions.

Public High School Graduates that Earn a College degree by Age 25

I am back at making Sankey diagrams to illustrate the pathway to college degrees. Today I have manipulated data published by the Maryland Longitudinal Data System Center. Look at the College and Workforce Outcomes for Maryland High School Graduates data dashboards and the college pipeline report. MLDS produces dashboards on three populations, immediate college enrollees, non-traditional college enrollees, and “complete” college enrollees. I used that information and a little fudging to make a Sankey diagram showing the pathway to a college degree, which for this data is defined as a postsecondary certificate, or an Associate’s, Bachelor’s, or Master’s degree or higher. Unfortunately, this data set does not track the type of degree earned or the pathway the students took to earn the degree, although I hope to play around with the data in the future making some educated guesses to illustrate those pathways. For this diagram, I used the class of 2011.

Approximately 78% of public high school graduates enrolled in college either full-time or part-time as degree-seeking or non-degree seeking at any point after high school graduation. Overall approximately 50% of students who enrolled in college at any time earned a college degree by age 25. Those who are reported as not earning a college degree by age 25 may be actively pursuing a college degree at age 25 or earn a college degree after age 25.

Click here if you can not see the diagram.

Sources: Maryland Longitudinal Data System Center, College and Workforce Outcomes for Maryland High School Graduates; Maryland Longitudinal Data System Center, College Pipeline Report

Notes on the Data

  • College enrollment and graduation from Maryland’s community colleges, four-year public institutions and state-aided independent institutions is evaluated using data from the Maryland Higher Education Commission. College enrollment and graduation from out-of-state colleges and in-state private colleges is evaluated using data from National Student Clearinghouse. National Student Clearinghouse reports college graduation for the five year period after high school graduation, which is approximately age 23. It is possible additional students graduate from out-of-state colleges or in-state private career colleges after five years. Those records are not available to include in this analysis.
  • Non-Traditional College Enrollment includes high school graduates that either delayed degree-seeking enrollment in college until age 20, or enrolled for the first time as part-time degree-seeking. Non-Traditional College Enrollment is not reported until two years have lapsed since high school graduation.
  • A high school graduate is considered enrolled in college if the graduate meets the definition of Immediate College Enrollment. Immediate college enrollment is defined as a high school graduate who enrolls in college as a full-time, degree-seeking student in the fall immediately following high school graduation.
  • Students reported as “No College Degree by Age 25” may be actively pursuing a college degree at age 25 or earn a college degree after age 25.
  • The data in the diagram has not yet been fully checked. This post is the product of an active learning process. I plan to revisit the data and diagram in the future.

Another Attempt at a Sankey College Pipeline

Another day, another attempt at using amcharts to illustrate the college pipeline of Maryland public school students. This time I used the Maryland Longitudinal Data System Center data. I am still struggling with getting the data to display in the chart in the way I want it to, but I am making progress. I figured out how to fade out categories when I do not know what happened to the students. For example, I faded out students that did not immediately enroll in a college directly after high school. These students may have never enrolled in college, may have enrolled in college at another time, or even enrolled in college in another country.

I still have not figured out how to have the full label on the right-hand side to display. I played around with a few settings, but none of them allowed the full label to show. There is documentation for the am charts software, but I have not yet read through it all and I do not have a ton of experience with writing javascript. I think if I experiment with it more I will continue to learn how to use it.

As I figure out the program you need to click on the actual post or this link to see the chart. I am working on this issue.

What I can learn from this Pipeline data

From this data, I can only learn the ultimate fates of 32% of the students who exited a Maryland public high in 2011 at the end of 12th grade. That is the percentage of high school exiters that graduated college (from the same sector they initially enrolled) or are still enrolled in college at the same sector.

I know nothing about the students who did not immediately start a college degree program in the fall and nothing about students that transferred between higher education sectors. To really understand the pathways I need more information. I would love to be able to illustrate how students flow through the higher education system. I want to know how many students reverse transfer, and how many of those who do get degrees, either an associate’s or a bachelor’s.

Notes About the PipeLine Data

The following are the notes about the data provided by the Maryland Longitudinal Data System Center. The data explore the high school graduation, college-going, and college graduation for 12th grade students who exited Maryland public schools in 2011. The notes are very important because I am trying to deeply understand all of the data I am examining.

community College Notes

To be counted as a community college graduate, the student must have enrolled in any community college and graduated from any community college. Students who start at a community college but graduate from a college in another sector are not counted as graduates. Students who started in another sector but graduate from a community college are also excluded. To be counted as persisting (still in college), the student must have NOT graduated from any community college and be enrolled in any community college in Fall 2019. Some students who enrolled in community college transferred from the college and are enrolled in another four-year public, state-aided independent, or out-of-state institutions.

Public Four-Year NoTes

The four-year public table above evaluates within sector college graduation and persistence independent of college of enrollment. To be counted as a college graduate, the student must have enrolled in any four-year public and graduated from any four-year public. Students who start at a four-year public but graduate from a college in another sector are not counted as graduates. Students who start in another sector but graduate from a four-year public are also excluded. To be counted as persisting (still in college), the student must have NOT graduated from any four-year public and be enrolled in any four-year public in Fall 2019. Some students who enrolled in a four-year public transferred from the college and are enrolled in another community college, state-aided independent institutions, or out-of-state institutions. Those students are not reported here.

State-aided Independent Notes

The state-aided independent table above evaluates within sector college graduation and persistence independent of college of enrollment. To be counted as a college graduate, the student must have enrolled in any state-aided independent institutions and graduated from any state-aided independent institution. Students who start at a state-aided institution but graduate from a college in another sector are not counted as graduates. Students who start in another sector but graduate from a state-aided independent institution are also excluded. To be counted as persisting (still in college), the student must have NOT graduated from any state-aided independent institutions and be enrolled in any state-aided independent institutions in Fall 2019. Some students who enrolled in a state-aided independent institutions transferred from the college and are enrolled in another community college, public, or out-of-state institutions. Those students are not reported here.

Out-of-State Notes

The out-of-state table above evaluates within sector college graduation independent of college of enrollment. To be counted as a college graduate, the student must have enrolled in out-of-state institutions of any type and graduated from an out-of-state institution of any type. Students who start at an out-of-state institution but graduate from a college in Maryland are not counted as graduates. Students who start at a college in Maryland but graduate from
an out-of-state institution are also excluded. Out-of-state institutions may be community colleges, public four-year, or other types of private institutions.

Additional Notes

  1. Exiter is defined as a student who is enrolled in a Maryland public school through the end of 12th grade.
  2. High school graduate is defined as a 12th grade exiter who fulfills the requirements to graduate from a Maryland public high school.
  3. Immediate college enrollment is defined as a high school graduate who entered college as degree-seeking in the fall immediately following high school graduation.
  4. College graduate is defined as a high school graduate who entered college as degree-seeking in the fall following high school graduation and arned any college degree by age 25.
  5. Still Enrolled is defined as a high school graduate who entered college as degree-seeking in the fall following high school graduation, did not graduate from college and is enrolled in college in Fall 2019.
  6. Enrollment in a graduate program is defined as a high school graduate who entered college as degree-seeking in the fall following high school graduation, completed a college degree by age 25 and enrolled in a Master’s degree program.
  7. Graduation from a graduate program is defined a high school graduate who entered college as degree-seeking in the fall following high school graduation, completed a college degree by age 25, enrolled in a Master’s degree program and earned a Master’s degree by June 2019. Students enrolling in PhD programs, or professional degree programs (law, medical, etc.) are excluded from this analysis.

Exploring the AMCharts Funnel

I have not yet figured out how to edit the Sankey chart display for the chart I made yesterday, so I decided to use the same data to make a funnel chart. I copied the code from Amchart’s website and altered it for my data. It was easy to change the label categories and numbers to represent my data. It was also easy to change the number of categories. I haven’t figured out how to delete or change the percentage the code calculates. The percent number is the percentage that category is of all the numbers in the chart, which is misleading and not very useful. This one issue is rather unfortunate as otherwise, I like the funnel chart. I like how it automatically scales for the size of the category. The colors are appealing, but I’m not sure if I am able to change them.

The data is from the Maryland Longitudinal Data System Center. It is grade 12 students who exited Maryland public high schools in 2011.

UnLabeled Category Limits Use of Data

After my last post about community college outcomes using data published by the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC), I went in search of more data to get a better sense of the story. I want to know what happens to students that initially enroll in a Maryland community college. I found some data published by the Maryland Longitudinal Data System (MLDS) Center in 2016. It is almost exactly the data I am looking for, unfortunately, there was an unlabeled category that consisted of 25% of the cohort. With this unknown category being such a large part of the pie, I feel that the data is of limited use for really understanding the outcomes of community college enrollees. Despite my belief that the data may be limited, I am going to take a closer look at the data to see if I can learn anything from it.

It is also unclear the time frame after enrollment that the data covers. I know that the population is community college students that were enrolled during the 2008-2009 academic year. I also know that the data was published in 2016. It is unclear if the data set is all students; first-time, full-time students; or another population. I think that my next step may be to contact MLDS Center to clarify what data is being presented. There may have been additional information in the documentation that I have missed.

When I publish graphs in the future I want to be sure to be clear about the data that is presented. In education public policy I feel that this is especially important as the specifics matter. For example, a cohort of first-time full-time students is not the same as a cohort of all community college students.

If Data is Accurate: Few CC STudents Transfer; Fewer earn a BA

If this data is accurate, few community college students transfer to a Maryland four-year institution, only about 6% of the cohort. This is much less than the 12% of the first-time, full-time cohort in the data reported by MHEC. This leads me to believe that the transfer rate in this data source may be underestimated. I wish that I could trust that this data is fully accurate because, unlike the other data source, this data source reports the percent of students that earned a bachelor's from a Maryland four-year institution after transfer. It shows the specific community college to four-year institution pathway to a bachelor's degree that some experts recommend, especially to lower-income students as a method to save money. But it isn't a method to save money if students do not actually end up earning a degree. According to this data, 1% of the students (421 students) that begin at a community college earn a BA from a Maryland four-year institution.

If only 1% of a community college cohort earn a BA, then that pathway to a BA is broken. However, I need to dig into the data more, because other data sources report a slightly less bleak picture. According to data published by the Aspen Institute, which is shown below, nationwide 14% of community college students earn a BA within six years of transfer. However, like the MLDS data I discussed above, I am not sure of the student population, so I need to do more research into the data. Overall I need to better understand the data sources before I make any conclusions.

A Note About THis Data Presentation

As I have said in previous posts I have really been loving playing with data presentation using datawrapper. However, for the multiple pie charts shown above I ran into a few issues. Firstly, the website was being glitchy, not showing changes I had made to the graph and hiding the graph completely. Second, I was not able to make this type of graph look exactly how I wanted it to look. I did not want to show the percent for the grayed-out space and that was not an option because the categories are not the same. This is not surprising, I think that for that type of functionality I would need a graphic designer and not a web application. So while there are a few issues, I am still extremely happy with datawrapper. I am just trying to document for myself the limits of its functionality.

Commmunity college Graduation and Transfer Data

According to the Career and College Readiness and College Completion Act of 2013, it is the State’s goal that all degree-seeking students enrolled in a public community college earn an associate’s degree before leaving the community college or transferring to a public four-year higher education institution. Therefore the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) tracks community college students’ graduation and transfer outcomes. MHEC does not have the ability to follow students who transfer to out-of-state institutions. Therefore, the data only reflects transfers to institutions in Maryland.

For this data set, the analysis cohort is all first-time, full-time students entering Maryland community colleges within the fall term of a given year. Three successful outcome measures are tracked.

  • Graduated and transfered: Student graduated with an associate degree or lower-division certificate and transfered to a Maryland four-year college or university.
  • Graduated/Did not transfer: Student graduated from a Maryland community college with an associate degree or lower-division certificate and did not transfer to a Maryland four-year instituion.
  • Transferred to four-year college or univeristy without graduating: Student transferred to a Maryland four-year insitution, withou having completed an associate degree or lower-division certificate.

Now Most Community College Transfer Students Graduate Before Transfering

I decided to display the data as a line chart, but with different visual clues from MHEC’s original line chart. For my chart, I added shading between graduated and transferred and transferred without graduating. I like how it clearly shows that in 2014 the number of students who graduated before transferring surpassed those who transferred before graduating. Although the numbers had been trending in that way, the legislation likely had some impact.

I wish we had the data to analyze the outcome of both types of transfer students at four-year institutions. Past research suggests that the students that graduated community college first prior to transferring be more successful, but I wonder if this is still true. This might be a question to examine in the future.

64% of a Cohort does not transfer or graduate in four years

The line chart above does not capture the approximately 64% of the cohort that do not graduate or transfer within four years, so I decided to make an area chart. The area chart shows that the majority of students that begin as first-time, full-time community college students do not graduate or transfer within four years. Although when the number of first-time, full-time students decreased after peaking during the Great Recession, the percent of students that did not graduate or transfer has dropped to about 60% of the cohort.

This data set does not capture if these students are still persisting or if they dropped out. It is also possible that these students transferred to a two-year or four-year institution out of State. This data set only captures a subset of successful outcomes for community college students: graduation and in-state transfer.

This chart reminds me that while measuring the success of transfer students that did or did not graduate is interesting and important, there are a large number of students that entered community college as full-time students who have not graduated or transferred.

Maryland Community College Student Outcomes

This data only tells part of the story of community college student outcomes, but it is a good place to start. One of the biggest issues in education public policy is the lack of data that tells the whole story. Another issue is knowing what data is important to analyze. I plan to continue to look for data to analyze.

US Census Bureau Educational Attainment Data

Since I used U.S. Census Bureau data for part of my discussion in my last post, I decided to quickly examine their educational attainment data. For this visualization, I used a doughnut chart. I briefly considered a chart with multiple doughnut charts to include the information desegrated by males and females, but it was not very interesting because the percentages for males and female educational attainment is remarkably similar. Women are one or two percentage points higher for the attainment of college degrees.

The Census Bureau does not publish the percentages for all options for educations by race. It just publishes the percentage of the population that has obtained a high school degree or higher and a bachelor’s degree or higher. I am not sure how best to show the data yet, but it shows a real difference in the attainment of bachelor’s degrees by race.

Unlike the Maryland Longitudinal System Center data I examined in my last post, this data reflects the population living in Maryland at the time of the survey, not just public high school graduates.

Using Datawrapper

A note about datawrapper, I had to update the chart because I forgot to uncheck the box that makes the top row the label row. It was easy to fix, but it is a reminder to check your data before publishing.

Some College, No Degree

What I find most interesting is what a large percent of the population is in the "some college, no degree" category. Seven percent of the population has earned an associate's degree, while 18 percent are in the "some college, no degree" category.

No High School Degree

Another fact that I find interesting is that nearly 10 percent of the population of Maryland age 25 and over do not have a high school diploma. From this data set I do not know if the people without a high school diploma are younger, older, or evenly distributed between younger and older people.

Adding a Legend Caption to Reflect the Statewide Average

In my past posts exploring using Datawrapper maps I looked at the percentage of public high school graduates that enrolled in college and the percentage of those students that enrolled in college that earned a college degree by age 25. In this post I examine the percentage of high school graduates that earn a college degree by age 25.

Again I am using publically posted data from the Maryland Longitudinal Data Center. In their data set they did not post the percentage of public high school students that earned a college degree by age 25, I calculated it by dividing the number of high school graduates in a county by the number of students that earned a college degree from that county by age 25. From my understanding of the data this should work, but I haven’t done a deep analysis into the potential flaws of that process.

For this Datawrapper map, I added a legend caption to reflect the Statewide average. The caption appears directly above the legend. For now I this placement makes sense for a Statewide average. Otherwise, I used the same settings I have used with the other maps I have made thus far.

Public Policy Thoughts About the Data

According to this data, 40% of Maryland public high school students who graduated in 2011-2012 earned a college degree by age 25. There is not directly comparable data nationwide because Maryland Longitudinal Data Center only collects and publishes data about Maryland. The American Community Survey Data collects data about the educational attainment of individuals based on where they live, not where they graduated high school or where they were educated. According to that data 44% of Marylanders 25-44 years old, have earned a bachelor's degree or higher. Maryland is known as a State with a highly educated workforce. Is that because a large number of the State's high school graduates graduate college by age 25 or is it because educated workers move to the State? I do not know the answer, but I interested in exploring the data more.

What strikes me about the map is the difference in the percentage of high school graduates who earn a college degree by age 25 in Baltimore City, 16%, and Howard County, 60%. That is a huge difference, 44 percentage points. As someone who is familiar with Maryland I am not surprised by the difference, but the difference is striking. I want to dig deeper into the data. I want to see if low-income high school graduates from Howard County earn college degrees at a similar rate to high-income graduates in the county, or is the rate more similar to that of jurisdiction that have higher levels of poverty such as Baltimore City. I also want to look at the opposite for Baltimore City.

When looking back on the map showing percent college enrollees with a college degree by age 25, there is no jurisdiction that stands out as being radically different in this map, but I will need to dig deeper into the data.

If I can understand the potential reasons behind the data better I hope I will be able to give better policy advice.

Yesterday I made my first map using Datawrapper. I noted in the write-up of my experience that I could not figure out how to display the data as a percentage; I ended up displaying it as a decimal. I figured that it was possible because I had seen Datawrapper maps with percentages, so I was pretty sure I just needed to dig through the menus and options. Unsurprisingly, I quickly found a tutorial written by Datawrapper that explained how to customize a choropleth map, which included the information I needed to figure out how to display percentages.

Since the Datawrapper tutorial does not directly address displaying map data as a percentage, I will give a quick explanation to remember how to do it next time. Basically, it is a three-step process.

  1. Upload the data striped of the percent sign as you want it displayed, not in decimile form. For example if you want a data point to be 8% upload the data as 8. This will allow your data to be displayed in the map. If you add the percent sign the data will not be displayed.
  2. On the “visulize” step choose a percent number format (there are a few choices) from the legend menu. This will display the data as a percentage in the legend.
  3. Use “Tooltips” to add the percent symbol after the variable code for the data. It is the second box.

As I suspected, it was not difficult to get the data to display as I wanted. It just took some digging into the menus and options.

Now for a look at the map.

As with the first map I made, I used data published by the Maryland Longitudinal Data Center. For their visualization of the data, you have to pull up each county individually because they have rich data on students from each county. I like seeing all of the counties at once on one map. I used the same color scheme as with my last map, with red being the lower percentages and green being the higher percentages. For this map, I allowed the lowest percentage to be the darkest red and the highest percentage to be the darkest green. I have not yet given much thought to if that is the best way to display the data.

Another piece of data that I want to explore adding to the map is the Statewide average. I know that the Statewide average is 51%, that is, Statewide, 51% of public school students who graduated in 2011-2012 earned a certificate, associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree or higher by age 25. At least among the students captured in the dataset.

It stands out that only 22% of students from Baltimore City who enroll in college earn a college degree by age 25. What the data does not tell me is why. Since I am a curious person, I plan to dig into the data more to look for why this might be. I might not find the whole story, but I hope to find some elements of the story. Dorchester and Somerset counties also have low levels of degree attainment for students who enroll in college. For future maps I want to look at total college degree attainment by high school graduates, college degree attainment by FARMS and non-FARMS students, and by FARMS percentage of the entire county. I also want to see how the college enrollment rate correlates with the college graduation rate. While examining this data, I want to see the capabilities Datawrapper has to display the data.

} catch( err ) { console.log( err ); }