Project description

A ProPublica analysis found that in schools across the U.S., Black and Hispanic students are, on average, less likely to be selected for gifted programs and less likely to take AP courses than their white peers. They are also more likely, on average, to be suspended and expelled.

Our Miseducation news application tells this story interactively, and lets readers see how these disparities play out in their own district.

What makes this project innovative?

While other news organizations and nonprofit groups have told the overall story of education inequity nationwide, Miseducation brings a sharp focus to communities everywhere in the U.S. We wanted to empower the public and let them look up whether racial disparities exist in their state, their school district, or their own school. In our interactive database, readers can search for any school or district in the country and compare the institution's demographics with which students are completing AP courses, and which are being suspended. We don't shy away from being direct. Every search a reader does gives very specific racial comparisons (we used risk ratios) on how students are doing in that school or district. Readers can also find data on what percentage of teachers are chronically absent, to the total days of schools students have missed because of out-of-school suspensions.

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

As ProPublica traditionally does with its large-scale database projects, we helped other organizations to follow up with their own local stories and created a “Reporting Recipe,” with story ideas, data instructions and reporting tips. For launch, and to help reach students, parents and teachers across the country, we gave early access to our data to Chalkbeat, who published six local stories — each focusing on a different city — the day we launched. On the bottom of Miseducation's homepage, you can see a list of all the local journalism that has been generated because of our app: https://projects.propublica.org/miseducation/#local-stories-box

Source and methodology

The data powering the project comes from the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, their Common Core of Data and the Stanford Education Data Archive, but the racial disparity comparisons are from ProPublica's own analysis, and the public has never been provided with a similar metric to understand this massive trove of data. You can read our full methodology here: https://projects.propublica.org/miseducation/methodology

Technologies Used

R, Ruby on Rails, HTML/CSS, Javascript, Mapbox

Project members

For ProPublica: Lena V. Groeger Annie Waldman David Eads For The New York Times: Erica L. Green

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