Data Is Plural

... is a weekly newsletter of useful/curious datasets.

2021.06.16 edition

Drought in the United States, standardized testing trends, women on high courts, word origins, and animal rescues.

Drought in the United States. “Maybe you’ve seen it in the media: that map of the U.S. painted with blobs of yellow, orange and red. It shows drought – but how do we know which colors go where?” US Drought Monitor, a collaboration between the University of Nebraska and two federal agencies, describes the process behind its weekly maps. Its authors, who take turns drawing the drought-intensity boundaries, synthesize various sources of quantitative information — such as the Palmer Drought Severity Index and the Surface Water Supply Index — and local knowledge. The results can be downloaded as geospatial files, timeseries, and summary statistics. As seen in: “How Severe Is the Western Drought? See For Yourself,” from the New York Times.

Standardized testing trends. Stanford University’s Educational Opportunity Project uses restricted-access data on standardized test results to estimate trends in academic performance and learning rates in grades 3–8 across US schools, school districts, counties, states, and other geographies, and with respect to race, gender, and economic status. Last week the project released v4.1 of their public dataset, adding estimates for Native American students and Bureau of Indian Education schools. As seen in: “The Bureau of Indian Education Hasn’t Told the Public How Its Schools Are Performing. So We Did It Instead,” from ProPublica and the Arizona Republic, which compiled data for the new estimates. [h/t Otis Anderson]

Women on high courts. Maria C. Escobar-Lemmon et al. have assembled a dataset on the representation of women in constitutional, supreme, and highest-appellate courts around the world. It lists the number and percentage of women on those courts in 175 countries (from 1970 to 2013), and indicates the first year a woman was appointed to each court (updated through 2020). [h/t Alice J. Kang]

Word origins. Gerard de Melo’s Etymological Wordnet provides structured data on the relationship of words to one another, mostly mined from their semi-structured descriptions on Wiktionary as of 2013. The dataset includes hundreds of thousands of word-origin associations, among other connections. As seen in: “Surprising shared word etymologies,” a recent blog post by Daniel de Haas. [h/t Michael Allen]

Fox in bedroom, dog trapped in wall. The London Fire Brigade responds to hundreds of requests to rescue animals each year. Its monthly-updated spreadsheet of such events goes back to 2009; it lists the location and type of property, the kind of animal and rescue, hours spent, a (very) brief description, and more. [h/t Soph Warnes]