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How have MERC schools changed?

MERC school divisions have experienced considerable demographic changes over the past decade, presenting both challenges and opportunities for our schools and the professionals that work within those schools. As a part of the Professional Development for Success in Culturally Diverse Schools study, we analyzed the demographic change in racial/ethnic categories (R/E), and two other demographic groups (OD): Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners. The following data visualizations were created to help tell the story of the changes that have occured.  

A guide to using the tools 

School Division Change Map

This map explores school and division level demographic changes over the past ten years (2007-2008 to 2016-2017) by subgroups. These maps illustrate the geographic distribution of the school and division changes over time.  

School Demographic Bar Graph

This graph shows the demographic group percentages for MERC schools during the 2007-2008 and 2016-2017 school years. These offer a snapshot of the student body in each school. 

School Percentage Change Dots

These depict the relative percentage changes at each school for different demographics. You can adjust the scale for each demographic group to see which schools have experienced the most change. 

For each graphic, you can filter by school division, demographic, and grade level, or search for individual schools. By scrolling over divisions or schools, you can pull up the full data set for each case. You can also download images of the data visualizations. 

We hope you will use these to explore how schools in the MERC region have changed over the past decade, and share these tools and what you learn with others. 


Subgroup demographics for each of the schools in the seven districts were collected from statewide publicly available data from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).1 The data used to create these graphics include (1) total student enrollment, (2) student enrollment by race/ethnicity, (3) enrollment of English Language Learners, and (4) enrollment of students with disabilities. Percentages were calculated by dividing the number of students in each demographic group by the total number of students in the 2007-2008 and 2016-2017 school years. Percentage difference was calculated by subtracting the percentage in 2007-2008 from that in 2016-2017. 

Data Notes

 The following notes about the data should be considered when reviewing and using the data in this analysis.

  • The category of students identifying as “two or more races” was only available for 2016-2017 data. Thus, it was not included as a demographic point in these graphics depicting change since 2007-2008.

  • The 2007-2008 data included a “Unspecified” category for students who were not otherwise classified. This was not included in the 2016-2017 data, and therefore the “Unspecified” category is not included in these graphics.

  • The definition for “Hispanic” (referred to as “Latinx” in these graphics) changed between 2007 and 2017. In 2017 a more inclusive definition was used, which likely contributed to some of the gains in student totals and percentages. Here is a link explaining the rationale for this change based on US Department of Education guidelines and an FAQ from VDOE explaining the change in definitions.

  • Schools were excluded from the School Division Map and School Percentage Dots graphics if they were missing data from either 2007-2008 or 2016-2017 in a particular demographic. However, they were still included for demographics that had complete data. If a school is omitted entirely from these two graphics, it is likely because the school was not open during one of the two school years included in this study.

  • If a school had missing data for a demographic in either 2007-2008 or 2016-2017, it was not included in the School Division Map or School Percentage Difference Dots.

  • Several schools had missing data for English Language Learners (ELL). Thus, the data reflected in these graphics reflect those who had data from 2007-2008 and 2016-2017 on ELL students.

1. VDOE datasets used: 
2007-2008 School Summaries by Ethnicity, Grade, and Gender
2007-2008 Division Summaries by Ethnicity
2007-2008 School Summaries by Ethnicity, Grade, and Gender
2016-2017 Division Summaries by Ethnicity
Other demographic data pulled from specific data requests


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