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3 Ways that a GIS Tool Can Help with Enrollment Trend Analysis

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As schools collect and analyze large amounts of data to increase efficiencies and optimize resources, Geographic Information System (GIS) tools are not always the first that come to mind. The ways that geo-spatial data could benefit your district might not be obvious, but there are new project ideas arising every day which capitalize on the power of seeing your student information on a map. One of the main uses for this type of system is analyzing your shifting enrollment and identifying trends before they become an issue. Here are three ways that a GIS tool can help you with enrollment trend analysis.

Visualize your shifting enrollment over time

One of the most powerful aspects of being able to load your data onto a map and view it geographically is the ability to query this data in order to locate specific subsets of students. By including data pertaining to enrollment dates and withdrawal dates, districts can visually analyze, in real time, how their population is shifting over time.

This is the kind of insight you could not easily gather from a spreadsheet or data table. By looking at a map of your new students, you may find, for example, that a particular neighborhood seems to be growing as a result of new developments. Or, you might find that a particular subdivision seems to be attracting a large number of young families with small children. This type of insight will allow you to plan for potential overcrowding in the near future, as well as what the current impact is on your buildings and staff. This same approach can be applied to a declining enrollment.

Analyze demographic changes and new service requirements

As you work through visualizing your shifting enrollment and identifying pockets of students, having demographic data in your GIS tool allows for that next level analysis to help you better understand who those students are. With that, you can now run statistics on your new students in order to identify instances where buildings may need additional services to accommodate this new influx. Whether it’s an increase in special education needs or a higher number of ELL students, tracking these demographic changes will allow you to stay one step ahead of your district’s needs and reallocate the proper resources where they will be needed.

Simulate potential solutions and their effectiveness

As you work through this analysis, you may find that the only real solution to your shifting enrollment will be to re-align your boundaries, close a building and consolidate students, or build a new building. GIS tools provide a great sandbox for you to work in as you develop possible changes and evaluate their effectiveness. By loading your current boundaries onto the map with your student data, you can begin manipulating those boundaries and run scenario analysis using student statistics to create a simulation for each of your potential solutions. Having this real time information allows for an easier re-districting experience and enhanced communication throughout the process. We often hear district leaders talk about the tremendous insights they have gained by using a GIS tool internally, rather than the traditional methods of spreading paper maps on a conference table or hiring an outside consultant.

GIS, though a lesser-known tool, continues to provide districts with a very effective analytical solution to an assortment of issues they may be facing. As more and more districts begin to find unique applications of GIS, it’s worth asking: are you using this powerful technology to your advantage?