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EdScape Beta Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is EdScape Beta?

EdScape Beta, short for “education landscape,” provides information critical to making decisions about whether, where, and what type of public schools, school facilities, and school programs are needed in Washington, DC. This new set of information from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education (DME) is intended for policymakers, school leaders, and the public. This information supports data transparency and is a step towards building a coherent public education system. EdScape Beta is organized into five topic-based chapters and is filled with useful information, data visualizations, and downloadable data. The information critical to help answer these questions fall into three pillars of information: facilities, school quality, and student demand. For the inaugural release, the following topics from the facilities and student demand categories are included: school-age population and public school students, schools, facilities, enrollment patterns, and neighborhood factors. Future iterations will include additional information, in particular school quality and parent/student demand. EdScape Beta builds on the DME’s previous Fact Sheets and the Master Facilities Plan 2018. Users can submit feedback multiple ways: click on the "Share insights or feedback" lightbulb icon at the bottom of each dashboard, fill out the survey found on the Feedback menu bar, or email the DME EdScape team at [email protected]

Why is it called “Beta”?

EdScape is short for education landscape, as it is the set of foundational information describing the historical and trend information about what schools, facilities and programs exist currently and what may be needed in the future. This inaugural set of information is referred to as “beta” because the DME will be collecting feedback from agencies, school leaders, and the public to improve the next iteration (being referred to as EdScape 1.0). At a minimum, the DME expects that information from the DC School Report Cards like the 5 Star Rating system will be included in EdScape 1.0, as well as additional facility information such as facility condition assessments, current and budgeted modernization status, and current and future estimated facility gaps.

I have a question about the information. How can I submit questions or more generally provide feedback?

The DME welcomes your questions and feedback. We are relying on feedback to ensure that this resource fits the users' needs. Users can submit feedback multiple ways: either click on the "Share insights or feedback" lightbulb icon at the bottom of each dashboard to submit feedback, fill out the survey found on the Feedback menu bar, or email the DME EdScape team at [email protected]. A DME team member will respond to you within two business days.

What are the DME’s goals in releasing EdScape Beta?

The DME has two main goals for EdScape Beta: 1) Act as the source of information to support school, program, and facility planning and 2) Provide the public with the same information available to policy makers for transparency purposes. EdScape Beta is not designed for and should not be used by parents and students to determine their school options; instead, resources like OSSE Report Cards, My School DC school finder, DCPS profiles, and the DC Public Charter School Board’s School Quality Reports should be used for this purpose.

What is the format of EdScape Beta?

EdScape Beta is organized by individual chapters with interactive Tableau dashboards that allow visitors to dig into the information and analyze it by grade band (elementary, middle, high, or adult/alternative), area of the city (ward or neighborhood cluster), or by sector (DCPS or public charter). Each of the dashboards also has downloadable data file that can be used with other software. Each chapter also includes a PDF document that summarizes the information for ease of use.

Who will use EdScape Beta?

DCPS, the DC Public Charter School Board (DC PCSB), school leaders, and District agencies will rely on this to decide about whether, where, and what type of public schools, school facilities, and school programs are needed. Advocacy groups will be interested in this and will use the information for their own analyses. This is not intended for the “everyday” parent making school enrollment decisions.

Why do we need EdScape Beta?

This is a fundamental step in coordinating school planning across the sectors. Currently, there is no common source of information used across agencies. The Cross Sector Collaboration Task Force and the community recommended that this information be provided and shared with the public, supporting the Mayor’s and DME’s commitment to transparency. Through using EdScape Beta, the agencies and school leaders will be able to develop “data driven” policies. By making EdScape Beta publically available, the community will have access to the same information as policy makers and will be able to “pressure test” the policy makers’ ideas, as well as develop their own.

How is this different than the 2018 Master Facilities Plan?

The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education (DME) is required by DC Code § 38-2803 to publish a 10-year master facilities plan that considers the facility planning needs of each local education agency (LEA) in the District of Columbia. The 2018 Master Facilities Plan (MFP), released by the DME in March 2019, provides up-to-date comprehensive information about the physical conditions of our current public school facilities while also analyzing future facility needs based on estimated population growth and enrollment growth. A third-party contractor developed the MFP report and provided recommendations to assist the city in identifying solutions for facility concerns. EdScape Beta builds on the information included in the 2018 MFP. Some of the information in the MFP is included in EdScape Beta and users are able to more easily interact with the data. Later iterations of EdScape will include additional information from the MFP and will regularly update the information. 

I’m a parent. How can I use this to compare school options?

EdScape Beta is not intended for parents and students to choose or evaluate specific schools. The recently released OSSE STAR framework and report cards, My School DC school finder, DCPS profiles, and DC PCSB’s School Quality Reports are all existing mechanisms for that purpose. Instead, EdScape Beta is intended to better understand trends and patterns and identify where schools and programs may be needed. In most instances, the data are aggregated at a specific geography or grade level rather than presented as individual schools.

There is a lot of information. What do I need to know?

In this Beta release, the DME is releasing the interactive data dashboards, downloadable data, and supplementary pdfs with key takeaways provided above each dashboard as well as provided in the chapter document PDFs. In future iterations of EdScape, the DME will include an executive summary as well.

Where should I start with using EdScape Beta? 

We recommend that users start by opening Chapter 1 – Population and Students and clicking through the dashboards. Then progress to Chapter 2 – Schools and Programs and then to each of the following subsequent chapters. We recommend going sequentially through the chapters because the information builds upon itself.

How frequently will information in EdScape Beta be updated?

The DME expects to regularly update the information currently provided in EdScape Beta based on data availability. At a minimum, the DME expects that information from the DC School Report Cards like the 5 Star Rating system will be included soon. In addition, the DME will collect stakeholder feedback to revise the existing information, if necessary, as well as add new information for EdScape 1.0.

How can I download the information?

The data supporting each of the EdScape Beta dashboards are available as downloadable files. At the bottom of each page is a "download" link that allows the user to save the file as a Excel file.

How do I know if EdScape Beta has been updated with new information?

When dashboards are updated after the original release of EdScape Beta, each updated dashboard will have a "Date updated on" included at the bottom of the page. This will let you know that the dashboard was updated and when it was updated.

I would like my school staff to better use this type of information. Do you provide any training?

The DME team is in the process of developing online web trainings and can schedule in person meetings. Please contact us with your interests via emailing your question to the DME EdScape team at [email protected].