Tuesday, December 23, 2014

School Districts

Many counties have only one school district. Some have two or three (a city or two, as well as the county).  And then there's Cook County, Illinois (Chicago area).  According to data I'm messing with, there are 149 different school districts in Cook County.  That's by far the most of any county in the U.S. Second place, with a mere 84 different school districts, belongs to Los Angeles. Third place is Bergan, New Jersey, with 74 districts.

Who cares? Probably no one. I'm fiddling with school district poverty data and got curious, so I suppose I care just a little, enough to post it here. So allow me to dazzle bore you with some numbers.

(oh, also this great new ProPublica database may help you understand why the number and types of school districts might possibly be important)

There are 3,144 counties (or county equivalents) in the U.S. and of these, 2,195 have more than one district. Or to put it another way, 949 (or about 30 percent) have a single district. These are mostly rural counties, of course, and the data excludes private schools.

Where I live, in Georgia, there are 159 counties and 193 school districts, thus a few counties clearly have multiple districts. DeKalb has three, which you might expect given it's in Atlanta, but so does little Jackson County (and a few others, like Hall and Carroll counties). Many have two. Most have one. It's Georgia, after all.

None of this gets at the poverty numbers. That's another challenge for another day.


If you see the comments below, someone pointed out an interesting point that my numbers are off. I'm headed out the door and won't have access to the data for a bit, but if it'll work I'll list below all the school districts listed in the federal database (193 districts). I see at least one repeat for some reason (Vidalia in there twice, but two different counties, Montgomery and Toombs). Atlanta City is in there twice. Here's the list below. The Georgia DOE says there's 181. I'll need to do some cleaning.

1 Appling County School District
2 Atkinson County School District
3 Atlanta City School District
4 Atlanta City School District
5 Bacon County School District
6 Baker County School District
7 Baldwin County School District
8 Banks County School District
9 Barrow County School District
10 Bartow County School District
11 Ben Hill County School District
12 Berrien County School District
13 Bibb County School District
14 Bleckley County School District
15 Brantley County School District
16 Bremen City School District
17 Bremen City School District
18 Brooks County School District
19 Bryan County School District
20 Buford City School District
21 Buford City School District
22 Bulloch County School District
23 Burke County School District
24 Butts County School District
25 Calhoun City School District
26 Calhoun County School District
27 Camden County School District
28 Candler County School District
29 Carroll County School District
30 Carrollton City School District
31 Cartersville City School District
32 Catoosa County School District
33 Charlton County School District
34 Chatham County School District
35 Chattahoochee County School District
36 Chattooga County School District
37 Cherokee County School District
38 Chickamauga City School District
39 Clarke County School District
40 Clay County School District
41 Clayton County School District
42 Clinch County School District
43 Cobb County School District
44 Coffee County School District
45 Colquitt County School District
46 Columbia County School District
47 Commerce City School District
48 Cook County School District
49 Coweta County School District
50 Crawford County School District
51 Crisp County School District
52 Dade County School District
53 Dalton City School District
54 Dawson County School District
55 DeKalb County School District
56 Decatur City School District
57 Decatur County School District
58 Dodge County School District
59 Dooly County School District
60 Dougherty School District
61 Douglas County School District
62 Dublin City School District
63 Early County School District
64 Echols County School District
65 Effingham County School District
66 Elbert County School District
67 Emanuel County School District
68 Evans County School District
69 Fannin County School District
70 Fayette County School District
71 Floyd County School District
72 Forsyth County School District
73 Fort Benning Schools
74 Fort Benning Schools
75 Fort Stewart School District
76 Fort Stewart School District
77 Fort Stewart School District
78 Fort Stewart School District
79 Fort Stewart School District
80 Franklin County School District
81 Fulton County School District
82 Gainesville City School District
83 Gilmer County School District
84 Glascock County School District
85 Glynn County School District
86 Gordon County School District
87 Grady County School District
88 Greene County School District
89 Gwinnett County School District
90 Habersham County School District
91 Hall County School District
92 Hancock County School District
93 Haralson County School District
94 Harris County School District
95 Hart County School District
96 Heard County School District
97 Henry County School District
98 Houston County School District
99 Irwin County School District
100 Jackson County School District
101 Jasper County School District
102 Jeff Davis County School District
103 Jefferson City School District
104 Jefferson County School District
105 Jenkins County School District
106 Johnson County School District
107 Jones County School District
108 Lamar County School District
109 Lanier County School District
110 Laurens County School District
111 Lee County School District
112 Liberty County School District
113 Lincoln County School District
114 Long County School District
115 Lowndes County School District
116 Lumpkin County School District
117 Macon County School District
118 Madison County School District
119 Marietta City School District
120 Marion County School District
121 Mcduffie County School District
122 Mcintosh County School District
123 Meriwether County School District
124 Miller County School District
125 Mitchell County School District
126 Monroe County School District
127 Montgomery County School District
128 Morgan County School District
129 Murray County School District
130 Muscogee County School District
131 Newton County School District
132 Oconee County School District
133 Oglethorpe County School District
134 Paulding County School District
135 Peach County School District
136 Pelham City School District
137 Pickens County School District
138 Pierce County School District
139 Pike County School District
140 Polk County School District
141 Pulaski County School District
142 Putnam County School District
143 Quitman County School District
144 Rabun County School District
145 Randolph County School District
146 Richmond County School District
147 Robins AFB School District
148 Rockdale County School District
149 Rome City School District
150 Schley County School District
151 Screven County School District
152 Seminole County School District
153 Social Circle City School District
154 Social Circle City School District
155 Spalding County School District
156 Stephens County School District
157 Stewart County School District
158 Sumter County School District
159 Talbot County School District
160 Taliaferro County School District
161 Tattnall County School District
162 Taylor County School District
163 Telfair County School District
164 Terrell County School District
165 Thomas County School District
166 Thomasville City School District
167 Tift County School District
168 Toombs County School District
169 Towns County School District
170 Treutlen County School District
171 Trion City School District
172 Troup County School District
173 Turner County School District
174 Twiggs County School District
175 Union County School District
176 Upson County School District
177 Valdosta City School District
178 Vidalia City School District
179 Vidalia City School District
180 Walker County School District
181 Walton County School District
182 Ware County School District
183 Warren County School District
184 Washington County School District
185 Wayne County School District
186 Webster County School District
187 Wheeler County School District
188 White County School District
189 Whitfield County School District
190 Wilcox County School District
191 Wilkes County School District
192 Wilkinson County School District
193 Worth County School District

Poll Transparency

Polls are everywhere. And it's hard to tell a good survey from a bad survey. And what's worse, it's hard to sometimes tell how a poll was conducted. The American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) has a transparency initiative designed to help (full disclosure -- I'm a member of AAPOR, though I need to pay my dues soon). It remains to be seen just how many pollsters or those who do survey work actually sign on. There are only 10 charter members so far. Some sites and aggregators, like 538, often give points to pollsters that are transparent or belong to initiatives like this, at least in their final grading scheme.

My guess? Lots of polling firms will not join because they don't want to reveal exactly how they do their surveys. We'll see.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Ranking the States

There's been a remarkable shift in where undergrads at UGA come from when you look at the states. Essentially, neighboring states have been supplanted by other, larger states -- at least in terms of sending full-time undergrads here.

Setting aside Georgia, which obviously sends the most undergrads to the University of Georgia, in 1998 the top ranked state was South Carolina. By 2014 it had slipped six spots. Tennessee slipped four spots. See the list below.

Rank by Year
State 1998 2014
Georgia 1 1
South Carolina 2 8
Tennessee 3 7
Florida 4 4
North Carolina 5 2
Virginia 6 5
Alabama 7 16
Louisiana 8 12
New York 9 11
Texas 10 3

Look how Texas has moved up, Alabama down. California (not listed above) went from 16th to 9th in 2014.

When I have time I'll map it out, but if I did you'd see the greatest percentage change lies in Texas (235.9 percent increase), from 78 students to 262 students. Setting aside small places that send relatively few students (meaning a drop of 2 to 1 comes out huge in percentages, but small in real numbers), the biggest drop is South Carolina (-63.7 percent, or 209 students fewer in 2014 than in 1998).

Okay, why?

One hypothesis is that UGA has gotten so difficult to get into, at least compared to nearby major universities, that it's attracting smart kids from elsewhere (North Carolina, Texas, etc.). Another hypothesis, I suppose, is that universities in Alabama and nearby states have improved and have drawn more of their own students back into the fold. I'd lean toward the former, not the latter, especially if you look at the academic comparisons of UGA to, say, Bama or South Carolina.A final hypothesis may be that UNC and Texas-Austin have become so very competitive that good, but not quite good enough, students are coming to UGA as opposed to a second tier school in their own state. That's a reasonable hypothesis as well, one I have no way of testing.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Case of Clayton County

As I've written in the last couple of days, I'm looking at changes in full-time undergrad numbers at UGA in terms of Georgia counties. Look back here if you want a summary of the change, and here specifically about Hispanics.

This is about one county.

I was cranking the numbers of percentage of females from all counties in 1998 and 2014 and Clayton County popped out as unusual in a couple of ways. How?
  • In 1998 it was ranked 12th in supplying students to UGA. By 2014 it had dropped to 27th. 
  • In raw numbers, Clayton supplied 137 fewer students in 2014 than it did in 1998. That's a 43.1 percent drop.
  • But ... it's percentage of female students climbed dramatically. About half of the students in 1998 were female. By 2014 it was 66.9 percent female. So, a 16.2 percentage point increase in females while the number of students dropped.
  • And yet, the raw number of females from Clayton dropped from 161 to 121.  Males, though, dropped from 150 to 59.
  • Finally, the percentage of black students from Clayton was18.9 percent in 1998. by 2014 it was 54.7 percent.
Clayton is roughly two-thirds black in the 2010 Census (about half black in the 2000 Census) and, of course, is dominated by the presence of the country's busiest airport. It's fascinating to me that while the county sends fewer students to UGA, females dominate more. Perhaps this says something about the state of black males in society, or the Clayton school system, or -- well -- I dunno. I'm not a sociologist. The raw number of black students from Clayton increased from 60 to 99. The real difference is whites. In 2014, Clayton sent 217 white students to UGA. By 2014, that was down to 16. So black female students appear to be carrying the UGA load in Clayton County.

Hispanic Students at UGA

Back in 1998 there were relatively few full-time undergrad Hispanic students at UGA -- 196 to be exact. In Fall 2014 there were 1,076. That's nearly a five-fold increase.

Again, back in 1998, the most a county sent (Fulton) was 32, followed by Gwinnett (30), Cobb (26), DeKalb (18), and Clarke (14).  By 2014, things had obviously changed. The Top 5 are below, with the number of students listed as being Hispanic and the percent of Hispanics to all students from that county.

1. Gwinnett (227, 6.1%)
2. Fulton (165, 4.4%)
3. Cobb (132, 4.8%)
4. DeKalb (53, 4.1%)
5. Clarke (48, 5.4%)

Nearly a quarter of all UGA full-time undergrads from McIntosh County (on the coast) are Hispanic, and 11.3 percent of Coffee County (south Georgia) students -- the only two in double digits. Yes, we're talking relatively small numbers here, thus two or three students can really bump up the percentages. Among the bigger counties, Gwinnett clearly leads both in raw numbers and percentage. About 80 counties sent no Hispanic students to UGA in 2014.

Obviously we know about the population growth among Hispanics in Georgia, so the numbers above should surprise no one. The real way to do this would be to examine the relative Hispanic or Latino populations for each county and see how well they do given their numbers. Take McIntosh County mentioned in the graf above. The latest Census data has it at 1.9 percent Hispanic, but nearly a quarter of its students sent to UGA are Hispanic. We're talking a handful of students, so it's hard to extend the data in any meaningful way, but the larger counties would be worth looking over. Yes, Gwinnett has increased the number and proportion of Hispanics sent to UGA, but is that in proportion to the number of Hispanics that live in that county? Greater than change in Hispanic population? That's why we take more time to do data analysis, because first blushes -- like this one -- can mislead.

More on Where UGA Students Come From

Where do UGA students come from? Comparing 1998 to 2014 data for full-time undergrads, here are the top Georgia counties in the table below. Notice Cherokee County, which moved  from 16th to 7th thanks to population growth. Bibb County dropped from 9th to 14th. The counties with the greatest percentage growth tended to be those that had both surging population and relatively (by Georgia standards) poverty rates.

Top 10 1998
Top 10 2014

Forsyth County has seen a 481 percent increase in the number of students sent to UGA over the time studied. Wow. Cherokee County, a 145 percent increase.

There are a jillion other ways to cut the data, and I haven't started yet on the fresh state data (as in, what other states lead sending kids to UGA). But let's take one interesting variable -- the percentage of black students from each county that attends UGA. Again looking only at full-time undergrads, and sticking to the biggest counties, we find some interesting results.
  • Gwinnett in 1998 had only 1.8 percent of its students listed as black. By 2014 that was up to 9.3 percent.
  • That up-and-coming Cherokee County? only 1.8 percent of its students in 2014 were black. Oconee County? Just 2.1 percent. Forsyth County? A stunning 0.8 percent. None of these counties have a sizeable black population, but if I had time it'd be interesting to see how well they do if we control statistically for that.
  • In 2014, all of Quitman County's students were black. Then again, it's only one student. That's why we stick to the larger counties, but I thought I'd toss that in as an example of the difference between a statistical and a substantive result. Beware of small numbers.
  • DeKalb sends the greatest proportion of blacks from its students to UGA, nearly 1-in-4 by 2014. Fulton County, less so, with 6.8 percent in 2014.
Another day, gender and Hispanic breakdowns from 1998-2014.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Fresh UGA Data

Finally got around to looking at fresh Fall 2014 data from UGA. This is only fulltime undergrads, and a first quick hit. I'll write more tomorrow. A few points:
  • In Fall 1998, Gwinnett County sent the most students to UGA of any other county. It's the same in Fall 2014.
  • The other top counties look little different. Some jostling here and there, but basically the big Atlanta metro counties dominate (Fulton, Cobb, DeKalb).
  • Forsyth County is 6th in the latest data. It was 20th in 1998. Credit population growth.
  • Clarke County (Athens) was 6th in 1998. It's 7th now. No real change.
  • But next door Oconee County has climbed from 11th to 10th.
  • Bibb County was 10th. Now it's 15th.
Back in 1998, DeKalb, Fulton, Cobb, Clarke, and Clayton counties sent the most black students to UGA. Today it's Gwinnett, DeKalb, Fulton, Cobb, and Clayton counties. Clarke is 8th. Oconee County used to be ranked 17th in terms of number of black students sent. It's now 27th.

I'll play more with this as time allows, maybe do some mapping. Also, it's fun to look at gender breakdowns by county over time.

Twitter Reaction to Best Journalism School Poll

The RTDNA survey to rank the top journalism programs, has generated some reaction via Twitter, most of it is from Mizzou folks noting they're "far and away" #1, and rightly so. Even if it's a methodologically flawed poll, you have to admit Mizzou is a helluva program. So ya get tweets like:
All well and good. As I mentioned in my post from the link above, UGA (where I teach) finished 2nd (Go Dawgs). Setting aside our own congratulatory tweets, others wondered about why their school didn't finish higher. For example:

I can answer that last one. You probably didn't have someone go out of their way to recruit people to vote. Look hard at the list. Many names you expect to see, one or two are -- let's be honest -- kinda surprising. Troy University? Lyndon State College? Fine schools, I'm sure, but nowhere near as good as many of the programs beneath them. Read my earlier post above for my methodological critique, or see the graf below.

Let me put my PhDweeb hat on for a second. It's damn near impossible to define what makes a program "top" or "best," and it's even more difficult to objectively craft a way to measure what you mean by "top" or "best" and you certainly don't turn it into a beauty contest by having people vote in a way in which they can be recruited. Now, you sputter, if everyone recruits then that all comes out in the wash. No, I reply, you can't assume some systematic bias in that. Some schools are likely to recruit more, take it more seriously, and I suspect that is seen in some of the results.

What makes a program the best? The one that works for you, the student. Finally, I leave you with this tweet, which I think gets at the heart of the matter:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Top 20 Journalism Schools

UGA is #2 with a bullet.

Okay, not much of a bullet, up from #3 to #2 in the methodologically challenged RTDNA survey of the "top 20 journalism schools."
A bit about the survey from the site:
The survey was distributed on TVWeek.com and to members of the Radio Television Digital News Association, with 673 respondents participating. A total of 607 of those respondents answered the question about their professional status; of those, 260 (42.8%) said they were news professionals. Additionally, 169 (27.8%) answered non-news professionals, 104 (17.1%) identi†fied as students, and 74 (12.2%) said they were educators.
I'm not sure why over a quarter are "non-news professionals" but I find that kinda interesting. PR people? Broadcast folks not directly involved in news? Keep in mind, as I emphasize on my earlier blog post, these 673 respondents are not representative. This is not a random sample, but ratger rather a convenience sample, a SLOP (self-selected opinion poll), and again as my earlier post points out you could with a little effort to vote again and again, or recruit your students or alumni to vote -- which of course biases the results toward larger programs.

Finally, from the story, I leave you with this quote from a UGA student (or faculty, or alumnus, or digital passerby) who managed to misspell a kinda key word (I boldfaced it for ya):
“University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication has well-trained professors who truly care about giving students experience in all areas of telecommuncations. It shows with the wide range of Grady students involved in the journalism industry around the country.”

Yeah, I misspelled "rather" above. This is what happens when you write in a hurry between one doc visit about surgery for your kid and another about your own friggin cancer. Bite me.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Dream College List

So here's the hed from a site:

The Official List Of Dream Colleges
High School Students
Wish They Could Attend 

And you think, wow, that's some list. Wouldn't Ivy schools be at the top? Or maybe Hawaii? You'd be wrong. The list itself, such as it is, can be found here, but lemme discuss my favorite topic -- methodology.

First, what's the school people dream they could attend?

1. University of Michigan

Don't get me wrong, Michigan is a helluva school, maybe the best public university in the country, but does anyone actually dream of being in Michigan? Especially in, say, February?

2. San Diego State University

Okay, terrific weather, an okay school, but ya dream about it? Really? There are some other oddities on the list, as in #7 being University of Alabama. Other than football, there's no real reason to dream of being there. Ole Miss is #18. Okay, maybe. It is a pretty place, though no academic powerhouse. And UGA comes in at #25. I can buy that.

Important note -- not a single Ivy is on the list. I'm fairly sure people dream about Harvard more than they do about Ole Miss.

Okay, so exactly how did they come up with this "dream" list? You tell me, because I can't find any mention of methodology. There is a funny comment at the bottom of the piece, basically a WTF response. If you find the method to this madness, lemme know. Best I can tell, a lot of this site's stuff is generated by one guy in a kinda sorta Buzzfeed ripoff style with lots of silly (some funny) lists.


Sometimes I have no friggin idea what UGA is doing. Below is a message on "Athena," our new computer system that along with "Banner" has royally screwed things up for lots of people to the point where we're changing policies to fit what our system will allow us to do:
Caution Please submit the grades often. There is a 35 minute time limit starting at 01:48 pm on Dec 12, 2014 for this page.
Is this like voting early and often? Do I submit the same grade over and over again? Is this a race? What? I entered a grade for a directed reading. Do I enter it again? Huh?


Instead of Athena or Banner, maybe they should have named it Hal. Or SkyNet.


A Favorite Paper, Shot Down

I enjoy researching people's beliefs in conspiracy theories, but my latest paper got shot down by a top journal. That's okay. It happens. I haven't actually read the comments yet -- I like to let them sit for a day or two before reading why my manuscript sucks -- and I'm not sure whether it's worth sending out elsewhere. It's a neat idea, this paper, as it looks at beliefs in conspiracy theories from the left and right, but I dunno that it's neat enough or the results strong enough to justify publication. Maybe I'll use it as a conference paper at some point.

Oh, and here's a previous blog post that gives a bit about the paper at an earlier stage.

I admit I kinda struggled with it at times. One aspect that hurt is there are few surprises in the results. Liberals believe the worst about conservatives via conspiracy theories, and vice versa. It does include what I think is a useful analysis of individual differences that might also explain conspiratorial beliefs beyond mere partisanship and ideology (anxiety, financial uncertainty, and interpersonal trust). There are sound theoretical reasons why they might be expected to play a role. In general, after controlling for ideology, etc., people who tend not to trust others also believe in conspiracy theories of the left and the right. Not a great media angle there, but kinda neat.

As to the media stuff, the results are unsurprising. Watching Fox News predicted believing the conspiracy theories about Obama but not about Bush. Neat, though, is that after all these controls, watching comedy news programs The Daily Show and The Colbert Report was associated with not believing any of the theories, regardless of their direction.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Fun with ACC Jail Data

Yes, you too can have fun with jail data. I looked at arrests over the last seven days, via this site, and dumped it into a spreadsheet. Why? Because I should be grading, but this is more fun (if you are liberal in exactly how you define fun).

So what's the data tell us? There were 11 Hispanics, 97 whites and 122 blacks arrested. What's fun is to break down some of the charges by race. See the table below for the UGA-effect on the ACC jail. Underage possession, open container, fake ID -- those wacky college kids -- are all white. Battery, improper driving, criminal trespass are less so.







False ID













Is there some deeper meaning to the data above? None at all, other than college kids getting arrested for booze.