ZIP Code Risk: Life Expectancy and Educational Opportunity in Little Rock

February 28, 2020


Pader Moua, MPH
Policy Analyst

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As a complement to our initiative looking at ZIP code risk, or risk based on where people live, this blog post highlights a new interactive map released by Child Trends that explores the link between teen life expectancy and educational opportunity. Little Rock is one of the cities mapped in the tool.

The authors found that nationally, teen life expectancy — the average expected years of life for 15-year-old youth — tends to be longer in neighborhoods with greater educational opportunity. However, the authors point out that “the relationship between neighborhood educational opportunity and life expectancy relies on the assumption that teens attend school in their own neighborhoods.” This is not always the case in Little Rock, where the neighborhoods around some of the high schools do not necessarily reflect the students who attend the schools.

The map displays data for the following schools in Little Rock: Hall High School, Central High School, McClellan High School, J.A. Fair High School, Parkview Magnet High School, SIATech High Charter, Lisa Academy West High School, eStem Public Charter High School, Arkansas School for the Deaf High School, and Arkansas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired High School.

The map uses 2010‒2015 U.S. Small-area Life Expectancy Estimates Project data for its life expectancy estimates and 2011‒2016 Civil Rights Data Collection data for its educational opportunity measures. Each high school is given an educational opportunity score between 1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) based on the following measures:

  • Effective teaching: teachers with two or more years of experience.
  • Rigorous academics: Advanced Placement course(s) available, dual enrollment offered for college credit, and advanced math classes per 100 students.
  • Nonacademic supports: students per school counselor, students per school nurse, students per psychologist, and students per social worker.
  • Supportive conditions for learning: days lost due to out-of-school suspension per 100 students, students who have at least one out-of-school suspension, and chronically absent students.

To provide additional resources to stakeholders as they seek to address issues facing school districts, ACHI is releasing a series of interactive maps highlighting certain social determinants of health for the Little Rock, Fort Smith, Fayetteville, and Jonesboro school districts. Each school district will be mapped at the elementary school level. ACHI’s maps ― which use different methodology from the Child Trends map ― will focus on the following measures: children in poverty, adults in frequent mental distress, and adults in frequent physical distress.

The Little Rock School District map can be viewed on our website. Maps for the other school districts will be released later.

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