Social Impact Internships: Elizabeth Carbonell (’23)

Elizabeth Carbonell (’23 | 9-BCS)

When I first started this internship, I was very motivated to socially impact my community. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure how my work would be useful but as I started working, I realized how important my work was. The internship consisted of creating an accountability dashboard for two innovation zones that are part of the Denver Public Schools, the Northeast Denver Innovation Zone and the Luminary Learning Network. The zones are an experimental network of schools that have more freedom from the district to allocate resources to better suit the needs of the school. As a result, they wanted to compare how the schools in the zone were performing compared to other schools and to show the inequities that exist between different categories of students.

Even though all the data for the schools was available on different district websites, it wasn’t organized, and it was hard to read. I quickly started to arrange the information into excel spreadsheets that could be easily graphed on tableau for teachers, principals, and board members to understand. Although it was a challenging process and at times it was a little overwhelming managing so much data, I am extremely satisfied with the dashboard we accomplished. We created a dashboard of more than fifty sheets each showing a different aspect of the twelve schools in the zones. From attendance rates, test scores, and discipline rates to teacher retention, staff demographics, school budget, and district surveys we displayed the information from the last three years and successfully presented the data in an easy, aesthetically pleasing way for the viewer. We identified the areas each school needs to focus on to bridge the gaps between students of color and non-students of color, students with disabilities and students without disabilities, students with different socioeconomic statuses, and students with different levels of English proficiency. We also created a guide for teachers and principals to use on how to read the dashboard and maximize the information they acquire from it.

Throughout the project, I learned many valuable technical skills such as ways to manage large databases, excel shortcuts, how to create a display in tableau, how to filter the information into the relevant categories, and how to represent the data that is logical to those who don’t have experience reading data. I also practiced my presentation skills presenting my work in front of multiple board members and talked to several principals and teachers about their experience working in the school system.

Aside from the technical skills I learned a lot about the disproportionate representation of different students in the metrics we analyzed. It was surprising to me how large the gap is between students in the different categories, especially in discipline incidents and test scores. This project opened my eyes to how biased the school system can be, benefitting one population of students over the other. I realized how much work must be done to make sure that every student gets the education they deserve and to bring them to the level they should be performing at. As a result, I have decided to help a different kind of school system create an accountability dashboard with an internship in the fall. I’ve also decided to UROP helping underserved kids understand books they’ve read and increase their reading comprehension skills. I hope that I can continue to better my community in whichever way I can contribute. I wasn’t aware of a lot of these problems despite having experienced them myself and I will definitely try to be more cognizant in the future of the struggle different kids face in education.

Looking to fulfill your fall Experiential Learning Opportunity (ELO)? Check out PKG Social Impact Internships page to learn more about where to find opportunities and how to apply! 

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Tags: Anti-Racism, K-12 Education, Social Impact Internships, Social Impact Internships Summer 2020, Tech for Good

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