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Compare Districts Help

Last updated November 15, 2012

    Introduction

    This "Compare Districts" function has three comparisons:

    The "Districts Like This" tab helps you find districts "like" yours or any selected district based on 24 categories for comparison.
    The "Highest/Lowest" tab lets you find districts with the highest or lowest ranks in any of the categories that you select.
    "Select Districts" means you can choose exactly which districts anywhere in the state that you want to compare. Click here for a description of how to use this option.
    Step 1: Decide which districts to compare

    The district that you select on the county/district pull-downs at the top of the page controls the comparison. Or you can use the site's "Find" feature (also at the top) to locate a district by name, city, zip code, or CDE code.

    Step 2: Select the districts to compare

    "Compare...districts in" allows you to include districts from all of California or in a county. On the "Districts Like This" version you also have the option of requesting a list of districts within the county by clicking on "all districts in this county." Doing so will override the other options and take you directly to the Comparison Results Selection.

    "of type" allows you to compare all district types or to limit the comparison to a single type of district (such as only Elementary, High School, Unified or Charter districts). The default selection is the "current" district's type. Note: The combination of criteria that you select (such as "All elementary districts in California") may return more data than your computer or Internet browser can manage. If this happens, try again by narrowing the search criteria.

    "where largest ethnic group is" allows you to include all ethnic groups or select districts whose largest ethnic group is one of the seven reported to the California Department of Education.

    "Focus on districts...with" on the "Districts like this" tab has the values on the pull-down list that you will select to compare districts as well as the definition of "close to" for each one. By selecting and setting your own "close to" values and varying the +/- percentages, you can discover a fascinating variety of facts. You can also control how "close" these values must be to the target school by changing the +/- percent. For instance, if your target district is large, you may be interested in seeing other districts with enrollment within 2% of your enrollment; but if your district is smaller, you may want to expand the comparison to look at districts that are within 10% of your enrollment.

    You have the option to further focus your comparison with a "close to," "over" or "under" for a second category. Otherwise, just leave the second option at "no selection."

    You may set the "close to" to zero to see only districts that exactly match the particular value you are interested in, or you can specify a number that is above or below the value for the selected district.

    "Find districts...with the 'n' highest/lowest values for 'x'" The "Highest/Lowest" tab allows you to choose "highest" or "lowest" values for a selected criterion, such as enrollment, expenditures per ADA, base API scores, average class size, pupil-teacher ratio, % English learners, etc. Again, you have the option of selecting a second criterion.

    For some highest/lowest values, the search will produce many matches; for example, many districts have 100% Fully Credentialed Teachers. In those cases, requesting the highest or lowest single value works best. For others, such as API Base Score, values range widely, so that selecting the highest or lowest 5 or 10 values will give more robust results.

    If an item has no data for the selected year, it will be "grayed out" (or you will get a message saying that the data is unavailable).

    Notes on Selection Criteria:

    By default, the report compares districts with an enrollment close to the selected district. To change this focus, go back to the pull-down lists in the Comparison Values selection box ("...with) (see Step 2 above).

    The +/- percent behaves differently for percentages than it does for numbers. For example, for a Percent Free Meals value of 20 percent, +/- five percent means show any districts whose value is between 15 and 25 percent. But, for an Enrollment of 20, +/- five percent means districts whose enrollment is between 19 and 21.

    The full "Show up to" number of districts in the Selection Criteria will not be displayed in the results if fewer districts fit the selected criteria. For instance, if “Show up to” is 25 rows but only 20 districts fit the criteria, you will see 20 in the results.

    By default, your selected district will be in the results even if it does not match the criteria you selected. You can exclude it if you prefer by unchecking the selection box.

    Step 3: Comparison Results Selection Items

    The checked boxes in the results area show which columns (data elements) will be included in the results report for each district. To expand or reduce the items in your results report, just click a checkbox to select (or deselect) the item; you can also choose "all" or "none" in each category. Then Click to Compare. Items that are not available in the selected year are grayed-out (or you will get a message saying the data is unavailable).

    Step 4: To see your results, Click to Compare

    The results are displayed only after you "Click to Compare." They appear on a results tab that is not visible until you click. On the results page, the target district will be highlighted with a light green background (assuming it meets the selected criteria) or you've checked the box to include it.

    Holding your mouse over an item in the results report will show what that entry is, such as "X District's % of fully credentialed teachers." This is particularly useful in long reports where the headers are off your screen.

    If you want to see expanded financial information on the districts that are in your comparison results, just click on the round button with the scales on the results screen.

    Viewing Comparison Results
    Sorting the Results

    The comparison results are sorted in one of two ways. If "close to" criteria are given, the results are sorted by the first criterion. Otherwise, the results are sorted by the district name.

    To sort by a different column, simply click on the column heading. The same results are displayed but sorted according to the selected column. 

    Printing

    The comparisons, especially those with many columns, are best printed in "landscape" form. Immediately above the table displaying the results you will see a narrative description of the criteria used to produce the report, e.g., Compare all Unified districts with Enrollment between 9,042 and 12,234. By selecting (highlighting) this line and the table below and printing only the "selection", you can avoid printing the navigation box and the Comparison Values Selection.

    Compare Finances
    FinanceComparison_unpressed.gif

    Click on the button at the top of the District Comparison Results box to compare the district finances of the same districts already listed.


    Downloading
    SpreadSheet_unpressed.gif

    Click on the button (see image above) at the top of the District Comparison Results box to download the data as a spreadsheet. Depending on how your Internet browser is configured, you will either be prompted to save the data to a file on your computer, or the data will load into a spreadsheet that can then be saved to your computer. In addition to the columns shown on the report, each spreadsheet row includes the county code and district code.

    Alternatively, you can select and copy the report, then paste it in a new Excel file.

    Small Screens

    To view the entire report, it may be necessary to scroll up and down or side to side on the screen.

    Data Sources

    The data in the Compare Districts report are drawn from the District Profile, the Accountability reports, and the Financial Statement for District on this site. The District Profile includes a link to Profile Definitions defining many of the terms used.

    With the exception of the county name, the data in each column on the results report are links to more detailed information for the individual district.

    To identify the columns on a lengthy report, just hold your mouse over the item.

    All contents copyright © 2015, Education Data Partnership. All rights reserved.

    Ed-Data is a partnership of the California Department of Education, EdSource and the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) designed to offer educators, policy makers, the legislature, parents, and the public quick access to timely and comprehensive data about K-12 education in California.