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REL Midwest

REL Midwest Releases New EdMaps

This year, REL Midwest EdMaps launched two new story maps analyzing education trends in the Midwest. With the ArcGIS Online Map Journal template, the story maps naturally walk through the narrative behind the maps.

The first story map, Advanced Placement (AP) Program Participation explores the expansion of the AP Program, a College Board offering giving high school students the opportunity to earn college course credit, exemption from introductory courses, or both.  The story map shows how access to the AP Program has spread from 2006–2012, with expansion in both urban and rural areas. A case study in Indiana attributes eliminating all fees for math and science AP exams as a contributing factor for the spread of AP participation within the state. The annual AP exams are necessary for receiving college credit, and removing the fees is one way schools are making it easier for students to participate in the AP Program.

AP Participation Storymap2

The second story map, Incidences of Pre-Kindergarten Suspension capitalizes on a new preschool-discipline dataset from the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The Civil Rights Data Collection released by the OCR showed that more than 8,000 public preschool students were suspended at least once, with almost half of those children suspended more than once in a single school year. The new data helped to reveal racial disparities, with black students accounting for 18 percent of preschool enrollment but nearly half (42%) of the preschool children suspended one time.

With a wide range of opinions on the effectiveness of suspension, Minneapolis has stood out for eradicating suspensions for nonviolent behavior for preschool, kindergarten and first grade students. Former Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson argued that, “If you’re not in school, you can’t learn, and if you’re not learning you cannot address the achievement gap.” (Minneapolis Public Schools, 2014).

PreK Suspension


Working with Blue Raster has been both a lesson in story map creation and an archetype for collaborative project management. I was able to tell stories about topics that matter in a way that a broad audience can digest, and wouldn’t have been able to do that without Blue Raster’s guidance and partnership.
-Megan Norris, American Institutes for Research (AIR)


New Release of REL Midwest EdMaps

Blue Raster is pleased to announce a new release of the REL Midwest’s EdMaps, an interactive web mapping application that helps education stakeholders think spatially about education issues affecting their communities.

Historic District-Level Ethnicity

Initially launched in January 2014, EdMaps enables users to visualize and analyze complex, geographically linked education data through easy-to-use story maps. The updated application features three additional maps, as well as a new custom maps tool and tutorial video. It also incorporates recently released public school, private school, and district-level school data from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

The new story maps look at:

  1. School access to broadband Internet – Currently fewer than 40 percent of American public schools have high-speed Internet in their classrooms. President Obama stated in a ConnectED conference that, “In a country where we expect free Wi-Fi with our coffee, the least we can do is expect that our schools are properly wired.”
  2. Historic district-level ethnicity – Users can view the distribution of racial/ethnic groups across the Midwest region from 2000/01 – 2011/12.
  3. Priority and Focus schools – Visualize locations of low-performing schools designated as Priority or Focus schools.

Broadband Map

The data and story maps in the application address the Rel Midwest’s four main priority areas of college and career readiness, early childhood education, educator effectiveness, and low-performing schools. Blue Raster built the application using the JavaScript API, ArcGIS Desktop, and ArcGIS for Server. Future releases of the application will feature additional story maps including a look at Advanced Placement (AP) courses in the Midwest region using the Esri Map Journal Builder.

Check out the application today by visiting EdMaps.

REL EdMaps Helps Analyze School Data in the Midwest

How has poverty changed in the Midwest region since 2000? This question as well as others related to education priorities in the Midwest can be answered with the REL Midwest’s newly launched EdMaps.

EdMaps is a mapping application that displays educational data as “story maps” with the focus of building knowledge across the REL’s four educational priority areas. Built by Blue Raster, EdMaps helps users analyze publicly available school- and district-level data, observe trends over time and frame conversations on practice and policy.

REL Midwest EdMaps

In its initial debut, EdMaps includes story maps on graduation rates and poverty levels and future releases of the application will allow a choice of data to overlay and compare over time.

Matt Burke, project leader, says:

We believe that education stakeholders throughout our region will benefit greatly from being able to identify and compare particular schools, districts, and states, observe trends over time and demographic shifts, and create custom data displays from a wide variety of publicly available data. We hope that EdMaps will serve as a useful tool to help frame conversations on practice and policy, and the development of this tool would not have been possible without the knowledgeable and skillful staff at Blue Raster.

The data is delivered by ArcGIS for Server deployed in the Amazon Cloud and uses the ArcGIS API for JavaScript. School District data trends are leveraging with the Dojo Toolkit and HighCharts API.

To view the application, visit http://www.relmidwest.org/edmaps.