In collaboration with NBC News and The Gates Foundation, Ben Fry-headed Fathom Design shows you how K-12 schools measure up in your area. If you're a parent or soon-to-be parent considering a move, this will be especially interesting to you. The Education Nation Scorecard lets you search for your location or a specific school to see how they perform and how they compare to the rest of the country.
Start with your search, choose your school of interest, and get the scorecard.
The initial view is zoomed in on the school you selected. If there are other schools nearby, you'll see how they compare. Blue means they are better and orange means they don't perform as well.
Scroll down and you get a view of your state, comparing school districts by test scores. Again, the the same coloring applies. Larger districts are represented with bigger circles (top).
Here's the same data, but by state:
Finally, there are some comparisons between the US and other countries:
My initial reaction to the first section that shows a specific school was to zoom out to see other schools around it, and I actually didn't even realize that I could scroll down until a second search. I guess I've gotten so used to that functionality, that I was confused. But once I realized there was more to see, I understood where they were going with this, and it's perfect for the intended audience.
I think most parents will go to the site, look up their children's school. If it performs better than the norm they'll smile and be satisfied. If it performs below the norm, they'll click on the link to find out how they can do something about it. So it doesn't need to be super exploratory.
I think the other reason for the design choice was because the same data aren't available for all schools and districts. Under the current design, you can show viewers just what you have instead of providing a view with a bunch of missing data.
Really nice work all around.
For your viewing pleasure, here's a segment on NBC news going through use of the application: