Charter vs. Non-Charter schools

In the past three years we have worked in 24 non-charter and 8 charter schools. This is roughly representative of the percentage of charter schools in LAUSD (148 out of 658 schools = 22%).
The table below rates the various partners (from 1-5, 1 being very poor and 5 being awesome) on the quality of administrative support, the partner teacher and parental involvement.

In general what I have observed is that there really is no difference between charters and non-charters. The three things that determine school performance and quality are:

  1. The principal’s dedication to the students, resourcefulness, courage and leadership abilities.
  2. Small class sizes
  3. Parental involvement (which is linked to point no.1)

Charter schools tend to perform better (as seen in the slides from our USN Map) primarily because of small class sizes.Some charter schools also mandate parental involvement and that results in improved performance as well.

In my interactions with researchers and funders I have seen a distinct bias towards charter schools which is not founded on hard data. On the other hand, I have also seen school administrators in non-charter schools be very hostile towards charter schools without basing their opinions on any credible evidence. I would like to change that! As we partner with more schools, I hope to populate the above Factual table with more data. As it is an editable table, you are invited to discuss any content.
In addition I hope the USN map will help users make more data-driven decisions about partner schools.

Crime in LAUSD schools

Our Urban School Needs Map project is humming along. The project is super cool with many far-reaching ramifications. The goal is to develop a visualization tool (with the help of a team of very kind Italian researchers from Density Design) that would help us determine which schools are the most needy in a particular area and which ones would make good long-term partners. The former decisions are based on freely available data on school performance, school crime, zipcode poverty, crime and education levels.
To determine which schools would make good long-term partners, we look for interesting patterns in the data. For example, we found a correlation between change in school crime and change in school administration. Exciting stuff!!
The map will be freely available to all and the hope is that it will help schools become more transparent and accountable.
We will also run large teacher and parent surveys that will help us add to the statistical data to determine which schools would make good long-term partners. This recommendation tool would be useful for funding agencies to help them determine which school they should support.

We just finished extracting the school crime data using some neat tools developed by a local startup. We then plugged the data into geocommons to get the following maps. You can also view the original map here.

Some other cool examples of such maps are:

Stay tuned for more neat visualizations!