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The value of GIS is quickly becoming realized within the educational system. Schools and school districts are directly responsible for the oversight of many types of data and programs to ensure students receive the necessary means for an outstanding education. Administrators need to be able to gather specific types of data from their teachers and students to be able to provide the appropriate support to their schools. The real question is how can administrators effectively understand and use this data in order to better serve their schools?

Administrators need to collect a wide range of data types, including: 

Administrators also need to be able to determine:

Standards and Resource Allocation
Most of this data changes on a yearly basis as students come and go from the school system and new teachers are hired and others retire. Administrators of entire school districts will visually be able to perform district wide analysis of their schools. Mapping of school data will allow for administrations to see which schools are performing above or below state standards or which are compliant with the No Child Left Behind act. This type of analysis enables administrators to properly distribute their resources for the upcoming school year to raise the level of education at those schools found to be below average.

Analyze from Multiple Perspectives
GIS enables the viewing of school data from different perspectives. Administrators can compare their district's test scores to a neighboring district. Administrators can examine the median household income of students within a specific neighborhood of the school and determine which groups of students will need to be in free or reduced lunch programs. At the individual school level, GIS can help determine student-teacher ratios as well as which teachers are fully qualified.

Redistricting and Demographics
Inevitable changes in the populations of families and their children will change the demographics and compositions of a community. These changes in the overall geography of the community result in district wide changes. The changes not only affect the total population of schools but change whether or not the facilities are still appropriate or whether the current educational programs can still support the population changes. GIS enables administrators to preview these changes based on the current and past demographics of a region as well as the proposed changes to district boundaries.

Effective Understanding
GIS technology provides better analysis of this data and can help more effectively understand its meaning through visual display. School data displayed in a chart format leads to a basic understanding of a data set and can quickly become overwhelming when large data sets are displayed. GIS can display data in a map environment, which provides for the display of multiple data sets at once at any scale. By adding a geographic component to school data, more details come to light, showing patterns between schools and students that can generally not be seen through plain charts and graphs.

Data Compatibility
GIS is compatible for schools districts that store this information within a Student Information System (SIS). Datasets can also be provided for use over the web so administrators can access their data from anywhere at anytime.

Scalable Solution
The size or type of school does not matter in order to use GIS. Analysis and display of GIS data works is as effective for a school district of 100,000 students as it is for a school district with 1,000 students. Public or private schools of any size can benefit from using GIS.

Projects in this section illustrate map based analysis and viewing of school district and student data through the use of GIS. Projects include integration of census demographic data in relation to student location and updates to school district boundaries.

Archdiocese of Baltimorearchdiocese-of-baltimore-logo

Spatial Systems Associates has been helping the Archdiocese of Baltimore for over a decade in using GIS technology to assist in making decisions regarding both church and school development and closure issues.

Dominican Universitydominican-university-logo

Spatial Systems Associates has provided significant analysis and cartographic production services to clients that do not yet have in-house GIS capabilities to allow them to take advantage of the technology to meet their needs.