The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) collects and maintains data from districts and schools that are then used to inform education research and data analysis. DPI provides a few avenues to discover, visualize, and download multi-year education data, such as the WISEdash Public Portal which allows users to view Current and Certified data via graphs and tables. Maps are also a great way to visualize education data. DPI collects and maintains geospatial data related to schools, districts, and public libraries and makes them available to the public as GIS layers and interactive maps.
What is GIS?
A geographic information system (GIS) is a framework for creating, storing, managing, analyzing, and visualizing data that identifies geographic locations of natural and man-made land features and boundaries.
Features (e.g. schools) and images in GIS become geospatial when they are referenced to locations on Earth using "geographic" coordinates. “Information” refers to tabular data containing spatial and non-spatial attributes. This is information about the spatial features (e.g. a school’s name, level, and district). “System” ties everything together so spatial features are associated with non-spatial attributes in a database.
In addition to mapping the location of schools and district boundaries, we can use GIS to see the spatial distribution of enrollment, demographics, and student outcomes, as well as change over time. Viewing education data through a geospatial lens can reveal patterns and relationships unseen in typical tables and charts - helping us answer questions. Overlaying multiple geospatial data layers in a GIS environment can provide context to education data and unveil correlations between the phenomena.