Out of curiosity, I updated the school outbreak-associated cases map to reflect the data as reported by the Maryland Health Department on September 15, 2021.

Update

After my experiment using smaller dot sizes, I updated this map to also have the smallest dot sizes. I think it is easier to read.

I made two maps about Maryland virtual learning programs for the 2021-2022 school year using data presented by the Maryland State Department of Education at the July 27, 2021 meeting of the State Board of Education. I appreciate that MSDE collected detailed data, but I found it difficult to process and understand. So, I made a map.

The first thing I did was separate the data into two maps: 1) elementary school and 2) middle and high school. I did this because this was the major divide in most counties about virtual learning program offerings.

I did my best to accurately portray the data published by MSDE, but I did make some assumptions and judgment calls. Sometimes it was not 100% clear about the meaning of the responses, so I did my best. I also errored on the side of simplicity because this is a graphic that is intended to give a basic idea of what is happening, not an essay.

Elementary School Virtual Learning Programs 2021-2022

In map form, it is much clearer that nine counties do not have any virtual learning programs in 2021-2022 for K-5 students. Four additional counties only offer virtual learning opportunities for certain (upper elementary) grades. Ten counties and Baltimore City offer virtual learning programs for grades K-5. I almost just wrote, all K-5 students, but that would not be accurate. Most jurisdictions restricted access to the program. Most jurisdictions had a set number of enrollments for each grade.

Middle and High School Virutal Learning Programs 2021-2022

The map shows that two counties do not offer any virtual learning programs for middle and high school students and an additional county only offers virtual programs for sixth-grade students. I believe that Howard County only offers a virtual program for sixth-grade students because generally students in seventh grade and are above are 12 and over and eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Nine counties on the Eastern Shore will be offering virtual learning programs through the Eastern Shore of Maryland Educational Consortium. I believe that the consortium will be using APEX as a vendor. In addition the consortium, two Eastern Shore will also be offering their own blended virtual program to middle and high school students. Further, eleven counties and Baltimore City will be offering blended virtual programs to their middle and high school students.

The Maryland Health Department published updated numbers today, so I decided to see how long it would take me to update the map. Because I set up my spreadsheet properly it did not take very long. I just popped in the new case information and then exported it to the map. I used the NCES School Directory. Two schools were not in the directory, Blue Heron Elementary, which I added to the database, and the Success Program, which I did not add.

Since this map only shows schools with active cases, many of the schools with “decreasing” cases are not shown on the map. The Maryland Health Department list includes private schools. This map only shows public schools because I have a spreadsheet with public school addresses already set up. Private schools could be added if I spent the time to look up each address. I have not fully checked the map yet as I am just experimenting with the capabilities and my database skills.

As a note, some school systems’ first day of school is September 8, 2021.

After I made my post about the percentage of schools with school outbreak-associated cases I was curious about the percentage of students with school outbreak-associated cases. I got the 2021 student enrollment data from the Maryland State Department of Education’s report card. I then divided the county enrollment by the number of outbreak-associated cases in public schools as published by the Maryland Health Department on September 1, 2021. I had previously coded each of the schools from the September 1, 2021 data release as public or private. Then I made a map using Datawrapper.

As a note, many schools systems have not opened as of September 1, 2021, and reporting to the Maryland Health Department may be delayed.

As a parent, it is good to see the number of cases in perspective. Although I know that every person’s risk tolerance is different.

According to the previous map I made, 16% of Frederick County Public Schools have a school outbreak-associated case. That seems like a lot, at least to me. However, when I look at this map, I see that less than one-tenth of a percent of Frederick County public school students, 0.07%, have a school-associated outbreak case. That seems less alarming. As to which portrayal is better, at this point I do not know. I guess I will have to wait and see.

What is also interesting about this map is that it is normalized. Both St. Mary’s County Public Schools and Prince George’s County Public School have 6 school outbreak-associated cases. For St. Mary’s County Public Schools it is 0.03% of the student body. For Prince George’s County Public Schools it is 0.00% of the student body, due to rounding because the student body of Prince George’s County is much larger than that of St. Mary’s County.

UPDATE: The Maryland Health Department numbers include teachers and staff. The denominator in the map below just includes students. I will have to see if I can fix these numbers and create an updated map. This is why checking your data is important.

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 on September 1, 2021, to make the above map. 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.

Continuing Learning How to Code

I still have not learned how to make a timeline map to show outbreaks over time, although I think I am on the way to figuring it out. I watched the beginning of an 11 hour YouTube tutorial with that end in mind. Since I really want to learn the first principles of coding data visualization I want to take my time. I want to really understand how to build a website using HTML, CSS, and javascript rather than just educated guesses and trial and error (although I am pretty good at that type of coding when I need to make something work). I believe that the tutorial uses the D3 library for visualizations, but I have not gotten there yet. I am interested in learning D3 as I have read that it is very customizable. Although I do not think I have gotten close to the edge of the interesting visualizations I can make with Datawrapper and Amcharts.

Percent Public Schools with Active OUtBreak Map

I really like the outbreak maps I have made showing the locations of schools both public and private with a COVID-19 outbreak, as defined by the Maryland Health Department. However, these maps quickly get crowded and are kind of hard to read unless you zoom in closely. It is also hard to compare counties because counties are not all the same density. Also, the outbreak map by school takes a while to set up because I need to find the street address for each school. I have plans to use the vlookup feature in Excel to make match the names in the Maryland Health Department list, but most of the names do not match exactly so I expect that might take a while.

So, I decided to make a map showing the percentage of public schools with an active outbreak. I got the number of schools from the 2021 NCES School Directory list on the Maryland Report Card website. I had previously coded schools from the Maryland Health Department list from September 1, 2021, as public or private. I coded the list based on googling, I should probably check the list against the NCES School Directory, but I have not done that yet. Then I divided the total number of public schools by the number of schools with an outbreak listed. This was fairly quick, the most time-consuming part was coding the schools as public or private.

It should be noted that many public school systems have not opened yet as of September 1, 2021.

I like many things about this map. The size and specific location of outbreaks are lost, but it gives a general idea of the outbreaks in public schools in the State. I think for my own personal use I would want to see both the location-specific map showing cases per school and this map.

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 on September 1, 2021, to make the above map. 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.

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.

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.

Remiation Rates of Recent Maryland Public High School Graduates Enrolled at Maryland Public Institutions

Today I take a look at the remediation rates of recent Maryland public high school graduates enrolled at Maryland public institutions as published by the Maryland Higher Education Commission in their 2021 Data Book. According to data published by the Maryland State Department of Education, 57,622 students graduated from Maryland public high schools during the 2017-2018 academic year. According to MHEC’s remediation data set, 25,575 students enrolled at a Maryland public institution in fall 2018. Thus, less than half, 44%, of the public school graduates are reflected in the map below. So, the data may tell us less about the quality of public schools than first thought. I will have to see if I can drill down further to this data. My first step will be to look at the number of high school graduates from each county; however, since the percentage of students who are low-income is different in each county, the college-going behavior is likely not consistent.

I was a little surprised to see that 25,575 students enrolled in a public institution immediately after high school because according to the college pipeline data published by the Maryland Longitudinal Data System Center, 17,410 students enrolled in a public institution immediately after high school. I wonder if MLDS is better able to separate students enrolled in multiple institutions. Further, the MLDS dataset only is capturing “degree-seeking” students.

Notes About the Data

  • Students may be enrolled at more than one institution. They are included in enrollment figures for each insituiton at which they are enrolled.
  • Data include all degree- and non-degree seeking students enrolled in credit courses.
  • Maryland residents are identified using their place of residence at the time of application to the insituion.
  • Maryland public instiutitions include community colleges and four-year public colleges and universities.
  • Recent Maryland public high school graduates are defined as those graduating from a Maryland public high school, identitifed using the College Board School Code, who graduated in the 2017-2018 academic year and first enrolled in higher education in Maryland in fall 2018. Analysis relies on high school graduation date and reporting of remedial assesment data; missing data for these variable may result in underreporting.
  • Maryland residents whose county of residence is unknown are included in insitutuional-level remedial data, but excluded from reporting by county of residence.
  • Salisbury University and St. Mary's College of Maryland do not offer remedial coursework.

Ploting the Data

Yesterday I looked at SAT scores in Maryland by county and income and for the incoming freshman classes of the public four-year institutions. Today I take a brief look at SAT scores by county and race/ethnicity from the same dataset published by the Maryland State Department of Education. I made a dot plot using Datawrapper with all the race/ethnicity categories available in the data set as well as “all students”. To be honest, the chart looks very busy and is rather hard to read. I changed the color scheme to reds and oranges to aid with distinguishing the categories, but it only helped a little. I could choose custom colors for each group, and would if I was intending to show this data to a wider audience, but since this is primarily for my own exploration of the data I decided I did not have the energy to make those choices today. I did decide to highlight the “all student” category to help with readability a bit.

An alternative visualization, and the one I have seen used at State Board of Education meetings, is a grouped bar chart. While I think that would work for smaller numbers of counties or race/ethnicities, I think that it is worst than the dot plot for a large amount of data. However, I may explore this visualization in the future.

SAT SCores by county and Race/Ethnicity

It is hard to draw any conclusions from this data. For one thing, I am unsure if this data represents public school students or all students who took the test from that county. For another thing, not all students take the SAT and different local school systems have different policies about pushing students to take the SAT.

Howard County stands out as having very high scores, for students of all races. From the data, I do not know if Howard County encouraged only high-performing students to take the SAT. I would be surprised if that was the case, but it is a possibility. Since there is information about the number of students that took the test, I might be able to infer the policy from that data or I might look at their website to see if they have a SAT policy.

Note: I likely will not be posting for a while as I will be on vacation.