Greater Greater Education

Curious about how the proposed boundary changes will affect you? Check out this new app.

Do you know how the proposed changes in school boundaries and feeder patterns will affect your family? Thanks to Code for DC and DC agencies' willingness to provide data, there's now an app for that.


Image from Our DC Schools app by Chris Given.

After 6 months of analysis, discussion, and concern about proposed changes in the way students are assigned to DC schools, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education (DME) has released 3 possible scenarios. The DME's team has also released a lot of background data, creating the opportunity for an informed conversation between the government and the public.

But it can be hard for ordinary citizens to wade through all the data and make sense of it. To make that easier, one tech-savvy DC resident has come up with an app that shows how each individual proposal would play out for every DC family.

The app, called Our DC Schools, allows you to enter your address and see how the proposals would affect your education options. Chris Given, a member of the volunteer civic hacking group called Code for DC, created the app, which is being released today.

"I attended a public working group meeting at Dunbar High School," said Given, "And while I was impressed by the dedication of DME and DCPS staff, I was just bowled over by the scale of the challenge of getting meaningful feedback from everyone these policies affect. I wanted to create an on-ramp to engaging with a really complex issue."

The app also enables you to rate and comment on each proposal and provides links to relevant background information, resources, and additional data-driven tools created by Code for DC and others. Given was able to create the app because the DME's office has embraced the open data movement, publishing on its website the information it used to create the proposals.

"It feels like we're at a real tipping point for open education data here in DC." Given said. "This app might have been impossible to create just 12 months ago."

In addition to data provided by the DME, the app incorporates contributions from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, DCPS, the Washington Post, and the 21st Century School Fund. You can access most of the data itself through the Open Data DC website, a project of Code for DC.

Code for DC hopes to use the app to solicit feedback not only from parents and teachers but also from DC residents in general, since all citizens have a stake in improving the District's schools. They're urging those who use the app to share it with others in their networks.

The organization will funnel all feedback collected through the app to the Student Assignment Advisory Committee and also make it public, with safeguards in place to protect privacy.

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Sandra Moscoso runs the World Bank Finances Program by day and works on community efforts around education, active transportation, and open government by night. Sandra lives in small, quaint, Washington, DC, where she tries to get a little biking in with her husband and two children. 

Comments

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Nice! This is a much better way of organizing citizen input than anything I've seen from the city.

by Tom Veil on Apr 22, 2014 4:15 pm • linkreport

Where does the data for "current feeder pattern" come from? Because the information that comes up in this app for my address is contradicted by the official tool at http://dcatlas.dcgis.dc.gov/schools/

by MLD on Apr 22, 2014 5:18 pm • linkreport

Same comment as MLD. The "current school" for my address is close, but incorrect.

Cool that they put this together, but I won't share with my neighbors until the data is right for fear of confusing them.

by Ed on Apr 22, 2014 5:28 pm • linkreport

I did notice the Current Feeder Pattern results match what the DCPS school profile says the ES' destination school is. So maybe that is the source of the data.

by MLD on Apr 22, 2014 5:36 pm • linkreport

MLD and Ed -

The data in question was provided by DME and DCPS, but there's a lot of complexity and inconsistencies in the current data, perhaps resulting in the problems you're seeing.

What would be most helpful would be if you could email me your address and note what you expect to see. Any such notes, even if minor, will help me diagnose and fix problems.

chris@ourdcschools.org

Thanks!

by Chris Given on Apr 22, 2014 6:10 pm • linkreport

Each of the addresses I entered are inconsistent with EBIS for current school rights as well. Something tells me this is a preview of things to come (the removal of overlapping or multiple schools of right).

Will email you separately, Mr. Given.

by Ward5Dad on Apr 22, 2014 8:29 pm • linkreport

Wanted to loop back around here and note that we've just made a series of fixes to the data that may resolve some of the inconsistencies being observed here. In some cases where we can't be certain, we're directing folks to EBIS for verification.

There is continued work to do here to clearly highlight when an address currently has multiple IB rights. You may see that the presence of an additional school is noted in the feeder pattern section. I think we can do better here, and we'll continue to work on improving that.

My thanks to the folks above who emailed me their observations of problems. If you spot an issue, please let me know: chris@ourdcschools.org

Thank you for helping us build and improve this tool!

by Chris Given on Apr 22, 2014 11:49 pm • linkreport

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