New Data Visualization Tool Takes On Florida School Report Cards


New Data Visualization Tool Takes On Florida School Report Cards

Apr 13, 2017

As school choice becomes a priority for many states, tools with the ability to synthesizing data become more relevant. One new tool tackling this data issue is released this morning by ExcelinEd, an education reform nonprofit organization launched by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. The tool uses interactive visualizations to make data on schools easy to find, compare and interpret.

The accountability system, put in place by No Child Left Behind, requires states to report data and grade schools in their districts. ExcelinEd’s tool uses that data to create graphs and charts. “Our job with the tool is only to take the existing system and communicate that as clearly as possible to parents,” says Claire Voorhees, ExcelinEd’s K-12 Reform Director. “Our tool is completely agnostic as to how many A or B schools there are.”

Her team created the tool after they realized how difficult it was for researchers on their staff to find and compare school data, noting that often the school ratings were buried in websites and spreadsheets. “It took 10 to 20 clicks, and the research associates could not even find the report cards on a website—and if they did, it was not user-friendly,” says Voorhees. “It was hard to understand what the data meant.” She hopes that as the Every Student Succeeds Act begins to roll out this year that states will see the need to communicate their schools’ data more efficiently to constituents.

Her team held a design competition with a cash prize a few years ago asking participants to bring statewide data to a “21st-century” platform. The tool released today uses interactive data visualization and a smartphone-accessible design to display information about over 3,000 schools in the state of Florida. The tool is open-source as Voorhees hopes that other states will begin to make their school data easier to access. “We have worked incredibly hard to make the information on a complex topic comprehensive, simple, usable and empowering for parents,” says Voorhees.

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