Separate and Unequal: Segregation in Chicago Public Schools


This project was the beginning of my research into school segregation – which ended up being the focus of my thesis. In this exploration, I wanted a way to explore the current status of school demographic make-up in the Chicago public school system. I decided to use a parallel coordinates chart in order to see the breakdown for every school at the same time.

This kind of chart can be overwhelming to understand a first glance so I added some context at the beginning and walked the reader through different aspects of the data using scrollmagic. As the user scrolls down the page, different groups of lines are highlighted along with a description about the significance of those schools. Below, elementary and middle schools are highlighted.

The dashed line represents the percentage of black, Hispanic, and white residents in the city and the small dotted line represents each group’s percentage within the public school system.

What became immediately obvious was there there are many schools where over 75% of the student population is either black or Hispanic. A level of 70% or higher is often labeled as a racially isolated school by social science researchers.

At the end, the user can explore on their own. Clicking through the buttons on the right reveals groups of schools by type, grade level, rating, probation status, and school size. Hovering over a line reveals more detail.

This was my final project for a course on learning D3.

Check out the interactive visualization here.