NJ Public Schools – Diversity Dashboard Using Income, Race, & ESL Data

I was prompted by this tweet by Alpha Sigma Nu to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Jan 21, 2019). When I saw the tweet, the first thought that popped into my head was “better understand and share about school diversity.” There is a dataset I’ve been dabbling with for quite some time now; it’s the annual enrollment statistics published by the NJ Department of Education. This dataset shows a limited view of diversity within our schools, specifically enrollment broken out by:

  • Race (with limited categories of Asian/Black/Hispanic/Hawaiian & Pacific Islander/Native American/White)
  • Language (a limited, binary view relating to English proficiency)
  • Income diversity (based on free and reduced lunch data)

The data is detailed down to a school-specific level, and then can be aggregated upwards, from school (e.g. Frank R. Conwell School #3) to school district (e.g. Jersey City Public Schools), to County (e.g. Hudson County) to entire state (NJ).  Please see my notes below the data visualization for an understanding as to my process for working through the data including a link to the underlying dataset.


    1. Main Diversity Dashboard (Tab #1)-
      DataViz #1 (top): choose a county, school district, or school (go down to level of detail you’re interested in) and see racial diversity by grade, which offers a lens into racial diversity.
      DataViz #2 (bottom left): number of “Limited English Proficient” learners (students for whom English is a 2nd language, so a rough measure of language diversity)
      Data Viz #3: (bottom center): number of students who qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch (this is a rough measure of income diversity).
    2. Compare Diversity…(Tab #2)
      Here you can compare two different scenarios – county to county, school district to school district, or even school to school. You are the driver of the filters, so dig into the level of detail that interests you.
    3. Ranking (highest to lowest) of districts with highest percentage of “Free & Reduced Lunch” eligible students (Tab #3)
      Here you can see a ranking of school districts with highest percentage of free & reduced lunch enrollees.  Specifically, I summed up the total students who qualify for free and reduced lunch and divided that by total enrolled students. My aim here is to identify districts with the highest concentrations of “at-risk” students, based on income thresholds as measured by free and reduced lunch eligibility.

Here’s what I did:

      1. Downloaded this 2017/18 enrollment file from NJ DOE’s website here.
      2. Used these field definitions to better understand the data.
      3. I added some fields to combine the data (e.g. I combined “White Female” and “White Male” into “White Students” and so on).
      4. A copy of my adjusted file is located on Google Drive here for anyone interested in the data.
      5. I then created visualizations I thought would be interesting, to better understand diversity in our schools. A few notes on my thought process.
        • I completed this within a day, so my scope was limited. This is, in part, an attempt to spur conversation and questions, both for myself and others who may be interested in this data.
        • For Asian, Black, Hispanic, and White, I combined Male and Female student counts into one Race groupings. I was less concerned with gender diversity and more with Racial diversity (though gender diversity is certainly valuable and could be looked at).
        • I grouped “Native American” and “Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander” into an “Other Students” category since those populations were much smaller than the other categories.