Wednesday, May 3, 2017

2014 National Student SAT Participation

Every year, many high school seniors prepare for college in a multitude of stressful ways, one of the most notable is by standardized testing.  SAT preparation can be a major focus of at the end of a high school career.  SAT scores are a determining factor in the college acceptance process.  This map depicts two data sets: the mean, combined SAT score for each US state and the participation rate of college-bound seniors per state.  The data for this map comes from the US Census Bureau and is for the year of 2014.  This map aids in determining any correlation between participation and grades and any visible patterns.  
This map is a combination of a choropleth and a proportional symbol map.  The participation rate data is represented by a choropleth map, showing the higher participation in darker colors and lower participation in lighter colors.  This method is used in combination with the proportional symbol for the combined score data, so that both data sets are easily distinguished.  The combined score symbol is a blue dot that is smaller with a lighter color for low scores and larger with a darker color for higher scores.  
The data for the mean combined score are unstandardized, so as to show the real values, however, the participation data is standardized by area so that the population of each state does not skew the data. 
Student participation data is symbolized by quantities using graduated colors using five different classes; it is classified using the Manual method.  The Manual method was chosen over the Equal Interval, Defined Interval, Natural Breaks and Geometrical Interval because they showed very little color differentiation between the states.  The Quantile method showed a little more color diversity, but was still primarily orange.  The Standard Deviation method was not used because the standard deviation of the data was of less concern than the raw data.
Variation in color was added to the graduated symbols for the score values for ease of differentiation.
The map is projected in North America Albers Equal Area Conic as it is the projection that preserves the area of the mapped subject.  The participation data is standardized by area, so it is important to maintain accurate area.
The layout for this map is a simple one with the continental United States in the center and Alaska and Hawaii placed in inset maps, allowing for the entire US to be shown up close.
The resulting map shows lower participation and a higher average score in middle america.  High participation is shown in New England, Georgia, Florida and Idaho with a lower than average score.  Mid-range participation rates are shown in the West Coast and parts of the East with lower average scores.

In conclusion, areas with higher participation rates correlate with lower average scores and lower rates with higher scores. It could be deduced that with lower participation rates, students who took the SATs were more motivated and prepared to take the test, whereas in areas where the majority of college-bound seniors take the test, both prepared and unprepared students cause a lower average score.

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