Data, Stata, and Board Meetings
Prior to 2011, North Carolina had a cap on the number of charter schools that could be open in the state at a given time (the cap was set at 100 schools). In 2011, however, the cap was lifted by the NCGA and this has led to increased growth in the number of charter schools in the state. We are working on trying to figure out if we can measure the point at which an area is saturated with charter schools. This is a very interesting topic to research because nobody has really looked at it before. It is also a very difficult topic to research because nobody has really looked at it before. Having access to all of DPI’s wonderful data has been really cool (there is a ton of great North Carolina education data available publicly if you know where to find it) and we’ve been spending a considerable amount of time gathering massive amounts of data on charter schools for our research and running pretty much every statistical test imaginable to see what we can parse out. I’ve always felt like my Stata (a statistical software package) game was strong, but it has definitely been taken to a different level this past week.
Working with this much data can become numbing at times, but this is certainly made easier by all of the exciting stuff going on in and around the DPI offices. We had the opportunity to sit in on a House Committee on Education meeting last week and the building was buzzing on Wednesday and Thursday because of the State Board of Education meeting. The State Board typically meets monthly and it was great to be able to sit in on their meeting to see how they function in the bigger picture of education in North Carolina.
Getting to work with everybody in the DPI offices has been a great opportunity as well. Everybody here has been very accommodating when it comes to taking the time to meet with us and provide relevant data. Before this internship, my experiences in education were only on the school level, so seeing all of the work on the state level that goes into a statewide public education system has really put things into perspective and has allowed me to look at public education through a new lens.