Assignment 6: Mapping of Educational Attainment in Mississippi
General: In an effort to determine which public school districts might be most vulnerable to poor student performance I have used educational attainment of the population over age 25 as a potential determinant for poor performance. Many cultural factors contribute to educational performance including the educational attainment of parents and the surrounding community in emphasizing the role of education.
Select by attribute:
Initially, I ran into the issue of downloading Block Group data for the entire state of Mississippi . Block Group data was necessary as opposed to census tracts or data at the county or state level as I knew that information that I would be adding later would be from the SF3 (or Long Form) data set. I downloaded the block groups for the entire country and then selected Mississippi from that set by selecting by the state FIPS code attribute, in which a number is assigned to each state (1-50). After selecting for “28” within that field I was able to create a new layer file which contained only those block groups within Mississippi .
Select by location:
When selecting by location I was interested in finding which public school districts intersected the areas (Block Groups) with some of the highest rates of persons over 25 who did not attend high school. In order to find this intersection I selected the block groups in which the percent of persons over 25 who did not attend high school was greater than 34% (the top two categories by natural breaks). These groups were then compared with the public school districts and it was found that the entire state with the exception of 5 very small school districts intersected with at least some part of a Block Group with a total population over 25 in which greater than 34% did not attend high school.
Statistics for selected features:
Once I had selected for a feature (in this case, block groups with greater than 34% of the population over 25 who had not attended high school) I was able to calculate the sum of people over 25 in those areas 515,258 out of a total state population over 25 of 1,757,517. I was also able to determine the number of school age children who lived in those block groups (how many children might live in such an environment and thus be exposed to high numbers of adults that did not attend high school) which turned out to be 185,140 people of school age.
Summarize by an attribute field:
Summarizing by an attribute field was not particularly effective for this data as there were no obvious categories by which to summarize. I did summarize by specific percentages in the block groups containing greater than 34% who did not attend high school and found the total number of people in each block group at 34%, 35%, 36%, etc. This information would be valuable if there was a significant difference between these percentages but because they simply represent the number of people divided by a total the summarized data was not particularly relevant.
I used the field calculator to create several new categories of information based on educational attainment data downloaded from the Census Long Form based on block group. The existing data was extremely specific being broken down by grade level beginning with 4 th grade. I created the new fields of males, females, and total people over 25 who a) did not attend high school b) had attended some high school but did not graduate and c) had neither attended high school nor graduated from high school.
Note : Two of the block groups in Harrison County have no reported population over 25. These block groups were not included in the analysis. Generally, a state like Mississippi provides an interesting contrast to the areas that I am familiar with, namely Washington , DC and Boston as the education levels in the cities are drastically higher. In a primarily rural state the most rural areas tend to have the lowest education levels though their needs would differ greatly from many of the current educational reform models which tend to focus on the problems of inner-cities.