by Julianna and Viv
Last updated on 6 December 2022
for Data Visualization for Allwith Prof. Jack DoughertyTrinity College, Hartford CT, USA
Traditional public schools have been around for centuries, can they still serve modern communities needs? In Connecticut there has been a call for change and the response has been interdistrict choice schools. This type of school includes Magnet, Charter, and Technical schools. They are all still public schools, but students do not end up there based on just their neighborhood. The dominant form of interdistrict choice school in Connecticut is magnet schools. There are just over 100 magnet schools in Connecticut, but here we will be predominantly focusing on Hartford. Using data that we collected from the public domain we have created a series of data visualizations to show where these public schools – both traditional and nontraditional – are located and how many students they serve.
After taking a look at all of the public choice schools inside and outside of Hartford, we focused more on specifically the magnet schools. We took a look at how many enrollments are in Hartford as compared to enrollments in schools outside of Hartford. We found that there are 39 magnet schools altogether in the Hartford area (which is a total of 33 districts that can be seen in figure 3) with 18,362 enrollments. There are 11,625 enrollments in the city and 6,737 enrollments outside of Hartford. This means that the magnet schools in the Hartford school district take up 63.3% of all magnet schools in the area, and the magnet schools in the surrounding 32 districts take up only 36.7% of all magnet schools. We found this disproportion notable. Next we compared the traditional public schools to the magnet schools in and out of the city. We found that there are 9,893 enrollments for traditional public schools and 11,625 enrollments for magnet schools in Hartford. Since we only looked into enrollments for traditional public schools in the Hartford area, we do not know of the enrollments outside of Hartford. For magnet schools though, we found that there are 6,737 enrollments outside of the city. Here it is important to note the ready availability of data about magnet schools which is accompanied by much less clear and less available data on traditional public schools, this will be further discussed in the section below. After looking at this data, we were surprised to find out that there were a lot less enrollments in traditional public schools than there were in magnet schools. Magnet schools are commonly specialized, and have high expectations and a more rigorous curriculum. While traditional public schools are run by districts, and have strict regulations and specific curriculum to follow. Due to the magnet schools being very specialized, we figured they would have less enrollments, but we were surprised to find out that they had a lot more enrollments than the traditional public schools did. We speculate that this is due to parents seeking out a more rigorous education for their children, and even young adult students seeking the same thing for themselves.
Though we are confident in our data and visualizations and the story they tell, there are some important notes to make in order to caution the viewer of potential bias. When searching out data the data on nontraditional public schools was much easier to find than that on traditional public schools. We speculated that this is due to the fact that nontraditional public schools potentially feel a pressure to prove their results and gain legitimacy in order to attract families and students while traditional public schools have nothing new to prove. So, the data on traditional public schools has the potential to be less exact, it has a higher likelihood of harboring inaccuracies that we missed; while the data on nontraditional public schools was readily available and easy to access.
For our data story, we looked at public choice and traditional public schools in the Hartford and non Hartford areas. We first made a chart showing the student population of public choice schools in Hartford. This chart showing Student population of public choice schools in Hartford shows the population of all magnet, charter and technical schools. From the data, we have found that Hartford magnet Trinity College academy school had the highest population of 979 students.
The next chart we made shows the traditional public school enrollments in Hartford schools. As seen in Figure 1, the Hartford public high school had the highest enrollment of 844 students, and the Renzulli gifted and talented academy had the lowest enrollment of 122 students.
These charts range from pre-k to high schools in the Hartford area. They have given us a good understanding of where most of the choice schools and traditional public schools fall in Hartford. We also made zoomed in versions of the map, showing where each of the schools specifically are in Hartford. This chart shows Traditional public schools in Hartford by student population and it is a more zoomed in version of the interactive chart that is shown in Figure 1.
After looking into schools in Hartford, we also looked at data from schools around the Hartford area.
This map shows Traditional public schools in the Hartford area.
Figure 1: Explore the interactive chart This chart shows the traditional public school enrollments in Hartford, from pre-k to high school.
Figure 2: Explore the interactive chart This chart shows the traditional public school locations in Hartford.
Next we looked at the public choice schools in Hartford. These schools include magnet, technical and charter shcools. We have foudn from our data that the magnet schools are the most dominant schools in the interdistrict school region. We have found that there are more magnet schools than traditional public schools. Magnet schools take up 63.3% of all the interdistrict schools in the area. Overall, there were 18,362 magnet enrollments, 2,132 technical enrollments, and 1,014 charter schols in the Hartford area.
Here we see a map of all public choice schools in Hartford and the surrounding area. Each point represents one school. The points vary in size depending on each school’s student population. Using the live link below, you can zoom in to make the overlapping points more clear and scroll over each point to see more information about each school.
Figure 3: Explore the interactive chart This chart shows the public choice schools in Hartford from pre-k to high school.
Figure 4: Explore the interactive chart This chart shows the public choice schools in Hartford from pre-k to high school.
Figure 5: Explore the interactive chart This chart shows the public choice schools in Hartford from pre-k to high school.
After looking at the data from different public schools in and out of the city, we have gotten a better understanding of where each of these schools fall in the region, and what percent of the city region they take up. We looked at the data from traditional public schools, and choice public schools - including magnet, technical and charter schools. Overall, we have found that there are more enrollments in public choice schools, specifically magnet, than traditional public schools. We looked specifically at magnet schools, because they are the main type of interdistrict school in this area.
“Home.” School+State Finance Project, https://schoolstatefinance.org/.
Dougherty, Jack, and Ilya Ilyankou. “On Data Visualization.” Hands, 9 Nov. 2022, https://HandsOnDataViz.org/
“EdSight.” CT.gov, https://portal.ct.gov/SDE/Performance/EdSight