For this week's analysis, I looked at "13th Grade: How Florida Schools Are Failing to Prepare Graduates for College" from the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.
The issue explored by this article -- why Florida students are graduating from high school without being able to "read, write, or solve math problems well enough to take some college-level courses" -- is one with a variety of sources, none of which are without their controversies. This means that not only did the authors have to hunt for various types of statistics and information from a multitude of sources, but they also had to work hard to ensure that the facts they were using were all sound and reliable.
The authors had to know what to look for -- which means they had to brainstorm all the different types of sources that could explain this issue, and then hunt for relevant information and data. First of all, the authors use information regarding school records -- that more than half of high school graduates who took the college placement test in the 2010-2011 school year found out they had to take at least on remedial course in college to boost skill, for example. This required taking data from education departments and perhaps other sources across the state, specifically regarding college placement tests and demand for remedial courses. They reference things like the "Florida College System Readiness report"
Then, the authors explored economic data. One of the factors behind the crisis of remedial education at community and state colleges that they chose to discuss was the Great Recession. This means that they had to dissect relevant economic data in order to intelligently discuss the reasoning behind this argument, too.
The authors also assert that there is a disconnect between what students are learning in K-12 schools and what they need in order to be successful in college. For this section, they analyzed things like curriculum and graduation requirements, Florida's history of change and primary education reform, and more.
The authors of this article did not utilize many "online tools" in order to engage the reader. They did not include charts or anything to pictorially display the many statistics they write about in their article; the only images were headshots of the people quoted in the article. The article was accompanied by a radio report from State Impact Florida, though, which was kind of unique to see on a news organization's website. I like this combination of media forms; it was interesting to listen to the clip while reading the article.
The most notable work of the authors of this article seems to be research. They looked at a lot of different data and spoke with different people from a variety of sources. I'm sure they also did more than a little data analysis in computer programs like SPSS, that help statistics become a little bit clearer. Whereas they did not choose to use online tools, I would have appreciated a few graphics that really illustrated the basics of this issue. It was a long article with many blocks of text and a lot of numbers -- I think the statistics would have had more impact on me if I had seen them displayed graphically or visually rather than just read about them through text.