The nation’s report card

May 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

Using standardized tests, the Department of Education rates states and school districts based on their students’ average scores in reading and math. The government calls the effort the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or the “Nation’s Report Card.” Major news organizations report the numbers as soon as they are released, just as they would annual reports on federal spending or urban crime.

The scores range from zero to 500 and can appear meaningless unless you rank a state or district against its peers or against past performance. Good data visualization can be critical to helping readers understand this data. The example above comes from Randy Yeip at the Wall Street Journal, who clearly represented rankings, change from previous year, statistical significance and deviation from national averages all in a simple vertical chart.

The most recent NAEP report, on which this chart is based, can be found here:

http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pubs/dst2009/2010459.asp

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