Public charter schools serve over 3 million students from a variety of backgrounds, including high proportions of students of color and those from low-income families. Students who live in the very communities that have been hit the hardest during the pandemic, causing parents to worry if they can send their child to school safely.
On the other side of the coin, school leaders and districts are making tough decisions when it comes to school reopening plans to make sure they protect their teachers, students, and staff. Education policymakers also need to make informed decision for their communities.
These decisions require that schools have the best possible data available, especially close to home, with a tool to gauge which school districts could be most be affected by COVID-19.
In response to these needs, the National Alliance created a new resource that maps the U.S. COVID-19 outbreak data for selected school districts with high charter enrollment share. The map offers a wealth of information as we take a breath after starting the 2020-21 school year.
What does the map do?
The interactive map tracks charter-heavy school districts where new cases are rising and identifies what areas might be especially vulnerable to outbreaks given their community demographics. The map displays every public school district with over 10% charter share and 10,000 student total enrollment and ranks their vulnerability based on three metrics:
Average of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents (data courtesy of the New York Times)
School district poverty levels (data courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau)
COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index (data courtesy of the Surgo Foundation)
Users can toggle between these three layers on the interactive map.
Tell me more about the data.
The COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index (CCVI) is based off the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Social Vulnerability Index (SVI)—a metric which gauges the extent of vulnerability in American communities. The CCVI takes the information from the SVI—a ranking of vulnerability informed by U.S. Census information—but also incorporates healthcare and epidemiological factors into the ranking.
The map also includes a ranked list of the most vulnerable charter-heavy school districts, from 1-215. This ranking is an analysis of all three layers, where we have coded the data to consider the three strains of information and display a ranked vulnerability list. You can read more about our process in the map’s Methodology section.
Who is it for?
The map tracking COVID-19 outbreaks in school district areas should serve as a guide for state resources, giving charter school leaders and advocates guidelines for what communities could be threatened more heavily than others. Parents and student can also access the public use map to inform their own decision-making.
For more information on the latest charter school data, we have created the Charter School Data Dashboard, a useful tool for charter school advocates, charter support organizations, and lawmakers at the state and federal levels when considering policies that would affect families who choose charter schools.
What can we expect next?
The map will be updated bimonthly with the latest COVID-19 case data. We will also include more specific information about state and local legislation that can affect each of these districts.
Adam Gerstenfeld is the manager of data and research at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
Find more information on your area with the COVID-19 outbreak map by school district.