Access to Out-of-School Opportunities and Student Outcomes

Project lead: Sivan Tuchman, Research Analyst, University of Washington, Bothell, Center on Reinventing Public Education

Data scientist leads: Jose Hernandez and Karen Lavi

DSSG fellows: Joe Abbate, Sreekanth Krishnaiah, Kellie MacPhee, Andrew Taylor, Haowen Zheng

Project Summary: For students living in disadvantaged communities, accessing organizations or institutions that provide enrichment programs for the arts, sports, and tutoring, or social services such as counseling, meals, or medical care can be challenging. And while we know that experiences outside of the school day can be highly enriching to student academic and non-academic learning, they remain elusive to the students who need them the most. Financial, time, accessibility, and safety constraints can all limit the feasibility of a student going from school or home to an enrichment program or service provider. There are potential policy solutions that may be able to increase access for disadvantaged students to engage in these out-of-school opportunities, but we need to better understand what the highest impact lever might be.

The Center on Reinventing Public Education is currently working with ReSchool Colorado, a local organization that is trying to reimagine education that is curated around individual student needs. To do this, ReSchool works to help families design a multi-faceted education that enriches and supports individual students, which includes wraparound and community-based services. They utilize learner advocates, who help families navigate educational options, transportation, and other resources they may need or want. Our goal is to engage in an iterative process with ReSchool and our DSSG team to inform their work around summer opportunities through the “Blueprint 4 Summer” initiative, as well as their year-round support services to families, so they can curate personalized education for their students.

To begin this work, we would like to explore the following questions:

  1. What is the relationship between access to out-of-school opportunities and student outcomes (academic, behavioral, other)?
  2. How does crime moderate this relationship?
  3. What is the variation in these relationships by student subgroups?

Our data from Denver Public Schools includes enrollment data, grade, gender, race/ethnicity, disability and English learner status for every K-12 student in the years 2011-’12 to 2017-’18.  Outcomes of standardized tests (including end-of-course exams), along with data on discipline (in-school suspension, out-of-school suspension, and expulsion), graduation, and attendance are available for 2011-’12 through 2016-’17. These data will make it possible to do various subgroup analyses. Crime and out-of-school opportunities from Denver’s Open Data Catalog, as well as ReSchool’s Blueprint 4 Summer catalog, will give our DSSG team significant data to work with so they can inform the work that ReSchool and others in the City of Denver are doing to improve the educational opportunities available to students.

Blueprint 4 Summer offers families a way to find summer programs for students.

Project Outcomes: The primary goal of the Out-of-School Resources project was to provide ReSchool Colorado with a resource and analysis to understand the supply and demand of out-of-school programs in Denver, Colorado, as well as how student demographics relate to access to these programs.

The first outcome of the project is a Shiny app that enables ReSchool to view the data from their Blueprint4Summer online platform.  Using Google Analytics, the DSSG team was able to map various datasets, including Census, Open Denver, and Denver Public Schools, so that ReSchool can see the spatial relationship between programs that are offered and neighborhood characteristics.  Along with the mapping tool for viewing data, the Shiny app also allows ReSchool to download all the data at the neighborhood level. In addition, based on the data selected in the mapping feature, the Shiny app provides graphs and charts that can be easily downloaded and used for reports.

An additional outcome for this project was data analysis to determine the correlation between access to out-of-school programs and student characteristics.  The first step to accomplish this required the team to develop an “Access Index” that could measure each Census block group’s concentration of programs as well as the diversity of those programs.  This access index was then used to see correlations with demographic characteristics. All of the analysis conducted was then compiled in a report for ReSchool, which will also be turned into an academic publication. Finally, knowing how useful this work would be, the team ensured reproducibility through mark-ups and documentation in programs in GitHub.  The compilation of work done by the team is completely publicly accessible so that anyone, especially CRPE, can reproduce, update, and replicate it in other cities.

View the final presentation slide deck (PDF)Watch the video on YouTube. View the poster presented by Kellie MacPhee at the Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference in Vancouver, B.C. in October 2018. View the poster presented by data scientists Karen Lavi and Jose Hernandez at the West Big Data Innovation Hub’s All Hands Meeting in Boise, Idaho in September 2018, and the poster presented by fellows Sreekanth Krishnaiah and Haowen Zheng at the Association for Education Finance and Policy’s 44th Annual Conference in Kansas City, Missouri in March 2019.

Blog posts:

“The enrichment gap: the educational inequity that nobody talks about” by Sivan Tuchman and Travis Pillow, found on the Center on Reinventing Public Education

From the classroom to the real-world: using data science to approach inequality by Haowen Zheng

Looking towards data science for better educational outcomes by Sreekanth Krishnaiah

Is R or Python programming important for policy analysts? by Andrew Taylor

Being right by Kellie MacPhee

How to learn when things are obvious by Joe Abbate