What follows is the second in a series of postings about the top five teams from the Spring 2015 Pittsburgh Data Jam as determined by the Pittsburgh Data Jam panel of judges. This posting describes what the teams set out to do, how they did it, and what insight they were able to draw from the data that they evaluated.
What Affect Does the Number Of High School Programs Have On Academic Performance and Local Crime Rates?
Bethel Park 'Team C' set out to discover if public high schools in Allegheny County that offered more extracurricular activities, such as sports programs and clubs, plus a broad range of AP and elective courses, had a lower crime rate and better academic performance scores in regards to graduation rates, college acceptance rates, SAT scores, and standardized test scores.
They reasoned that because of recent budget cuts in education for Pennsylvania public schools, many extracurricular activities and elective classes, had been discontinued in many local schools. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, who served as the Governor of Pennsylvania thorough January 2015, cut almost $1 billion from Pennsylvania Public Schools. These drastic funding cuts caused many districts to reduce the number of extracurricular activities. Could it be proved if a reduction in academic programs had a correlation with an increase in crime rate? If so, would there be an upside to funding academic programs if it could be established that the number of such programs reduced crime rates?
What did they do to address the problem? They compared all Allegheny County School Public School Districts and studied the amount of extracurricular programs each district offered. They then set out to determine if there was a correlation between the number - or type of - extracurricular programs and the following variables: SAT scores, standardized test scores, graduation rates, college acceptance rates, and local crime rates.
Bethel Park 'Team C' expected to find that public schools that offered more extracurricular programs would likely have lower crime rates? Did the numbers back up their theory? After carefully evaluating their data sources, Bethel Park 'Team C' was able to draw the following conclusions:
- That certain academic and extracurricular activities had more of an impact on an area's crime rate that other factors
- That the the number of AP courses, and number of sports teams, had the greatest correlation to academic performance as measured by SAT scores
Bethel Park 'Team C' made policy recommendations on their findings. They concluded that the following policy decisions would could be warranted based on their statistical analysis of data sources:
- Schools should invest greater amounts of money in sports programs
- Schools should refrain from cutting extracurricular activities
- Real Estate agents could use this information to identify not only safer communities, but the communities that perform stronger academically
The Data Jam judges agreed: The Bethel Park 'Team C' provided a better understanding of how the number of extracurricular activities impacted the academic performance and local crime rates of public schools in Allegheny County. Therefore, they were worthy of Top 5 recognition at the Spring 2015 Pittsburgh Data Jam. Way to rock the data - Bethel Park - Team C.
Watch A YouTube Video
Bethel Park High School 'Team C' - Members
- Sarah Amato
- Cassie Brown
- Will Dunn
- Maura Ellsworth
- Abby Hartzell
- Nick Marsteller
- Corrine Swogger
- List of Allegheny Schools and links to their websites
- Crime statistics for Allegheny county and individual district
- Pittsburgh Business Times public school rankings
Other spring 2015 data Jam Top 5 Finishers
- The Ellis School - 'Team B' - The Correlation of the number of liquor licenses and crime rates