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Noel Crespo
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Noel Crespo

Data Management, Analytics, Forecasting, Trend Analysis, Enrollment Trend Analysis, GIS

3 Ways that a GIS Tool Can Help with Enrollment Trend Analysis

Posted on Jan 20, 2017 8:15:21 AM

As schools collect and analyze large amounts of data to increase efficiencies and optimize resources, Geographic Information System (GIS) tools are not always the first that come to mind. It requires some creative thinking in finding ways that geo-spatial data might benefit your district, but there are new project ideas arising every day which capitalize on the power of seeing your student information on a map. One of the main uses for this type of system is analyzing your shifting enrollment and identifying trends before they become an issue. Here are 3 ways that a GIS tool can help you with enrollment trend analysis.

Visualize your shifting enrollment over time

One of the most powerful aspects of being able to load your data onto a map and view it geographically is the ability to query this data in order to locate specific sub-sets of students. By including data pertaining to enrollment dates/withdrawal dates, districts can visually analyze, in real time, how their population is shifting over time. This is the kind of insight you would be unable to easily gather from a spreadsheet or data table. By looking at a map of your new students, you may find that there is a particular neighborhood which seems to be growing as a result of new developments. You may find, instead, that a particular subdivision seems to be attracting a large number of young families with small children. This type of insight will allow you to plan for potential overcrowding in the near future, as well as the current impact on your buildings and staff. This same approach can be applied to a declining enrollment.

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Analyze demographic changes and new service requirements

As you work through visualizing your shifting enrollment and identifying pockets of students, having demographic data in your GIS tool allows for that next level analysis to help you better understand who those students are. With that, you can now run statistics on your new students in order to identify instances where buildings may need additional services to accommodate this new influx. Whether it’s an increase in special education needs or a higher number of ELL students, tracking these demographic changes will allow you to stay one step ahead of your district’s needs and reallocate the proper resources where they will be needed.

Simulate potential solutions and their effectiveness

You may find, as you work through this analysis, that the only real solution to your shifting enrollment will be to re-align your boundaries, close a building and consolidate students, or build a new building. GIS tools provide a great sandbox for you to work in as you develop possible changes and evaluate their effectiveness. By loading your current boundaries onto the map with your student data, you can begin manipulating those boundaries and running scenario analysis using student statistics to create a simulation for each of your potential solutions. Having this real time information allows for an easier re-districting experience and enhanced communication throughout the process.  We often hear district leaders talk about the tremendous insights they have gained by using a GIS tool internally as compared to the traditional methods of spreading paper maps on a conference table or hiring an outside consultant.

GIS, though a lesser known tool, continues to provide districts with a very effective analytical solution to an assortment of issues they may be facing. As more and more districts begin to find unique applications of GIS, it’s worth asking: are you using this powerful technology to your advantage?

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Noel Crespo is the 5Maps Product Manager at Forecast5 Analytics. He began his career working with school districts on helping them develop and maintain their Student Information Systems. After 4 years of work on the SIS side, he joined Forecast5 Analytics as an Account Advisor tasked with helping districts implement the GIS tool, 5Maps. He works with clients on a wide assortment of GIS projects, from re-districting/boundary adjustments and enrollment analysis to student assessment performance.

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