Learn about Individual Public Schools with Wolfram|Alpha

September 8, 2011
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C. Alan Joyce
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Earlier this year, we added data on all 18,000+ US public school districts to Wolfram|Alpha, allowing you to analyze student and teacher populations and detailed revenue and expenditure data for individual districts or across all the districts in a given city or county. We had a terrific response to this—lots of people wrote in to tell us they learned some useful information about their own districts and others across the country. And virtually all of those people ended their messages with “But when will you have information about individual schools?”

We’re happy to announce that Wolfram|Alpha now has data on nearly 108,000 public schools in the United States, which is based on 2009-10 school year data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). So if you go back and try the first input from our earlier post on school districts, you’ll notice that the result looks quite different—the result for “Seattle public schools” now defaults to a summary of data on individual schools rather than the district itself (which is still available by clicking “Use the input as a US school district instead”).

Seattle public schools

You can see here that Roosevelt High has the largest number of students in this group—click the name of the school and you’ll see complete, detailed results for Roosevelt High, including student and teacher totals, plus a detailed demographic breakdown of the school. Click the “Show charts” button to get a helpful visualization of enrollment by race and sex for each grade level in the school:

Roosevelt High School

You can use Wolfram|Alpha to find out which schools in a given area have the best student/teacher ratio, for example: “What is the student-to-teacher ratio in Indianapolis public schools?” Or you can search for and compare schools using virtually any combination of race, sex, and grade level about a single school or about all the schools in a given area—ask a question like “What fraction of students in public schools in ZIP 94015 are Hispanic?” and you’ll get rankings and distribution plots of the Hispanic student fraction of all schools in that ZIP code.

Or you can learn something about the overall demographics of public school children in a city or other area. Try a query like “total number of 12th grade girls in Manhattan public schools” to learn some interesting stats (who knew the number of female high school seniors in Manhattan is greater than the population of St. Pierre and Miquelon?).

One shortcoming of the NCES public school dataset is that the names it provides for school are often a highly formalized, “official” version of a given school’s name, which local people would probably never use in referring to the school. So you may find that common local names for schools in your area won’t yet be recognized by Wolfram|Alpha—but you should still be able to query “public schools in [your city or county]” to get a comprehensive list, from which you can click on a given school to get more information. If you’d like to help us improve Wolfram|Alpha’s public school data, especially correcting or suggesting other common names for schools in your area, please e-mail volunteer@wolframalpha.com and let us know which schools or school districts you could help with.

We’re working on more school data right now, including private schools and district-level data on graduation and dropout rates. Let us know what other data would be useful—and if you know of any specific data sources we should be incorporating into Wolfram|Alpha, let us know.

3 Comments

I look forwad to Wolfram Alpha providing a tutorial on any topic requested. The Wolfram Course Assistants are a step in that direction and the ‘Step by Step’ option provoded with many answers.. I see it as arising from the inclusion of an algorith for generating a tutorial which WA would combine with its knowledge of the topic to generate the corresponding tutorial.
A lmajor tutorial might consist mainly of a structure which was used ti call up shorter tutorials on and combine them.In use the user could skip jnior tutorials with which they were familar through studying other major subjects which overlapped.

Posted by Brian Gilbert September 8, 2011 at 1:07 pm Reply

This data is fantastic but I really, really wish it contained parochial school data and graduation rates.

WIth only public school data it is impossible to create a true performance evaluation.

Having said that, this data is a great starting place.

Posted by Ralph Ott January 7, 2012 at 2:40 am Reply

Is there any data comparing US Public School scores and funding with other countries public schools and funding?

I grew up in Panama and we learned a lot but the schools didn’t have much money. All the schools in my home town had 2 shifts and we shared the books but we learned everything including how to read and write English…well you can be the judge of that!

What I would love to see is if the US is really getting value compared to other countries for their education dollars. I suspect what the answer might be.

Thansk for the good work.

Posted by Jesus Ramos January 13, 2012 at 12:32 am Reply
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