How we identified priorities, collected data, and calculated scores

The St. Louis Equity Indicators Project uses a scoring methodology developed by the City University of New York in their Equality Indicators tool. This tool works across multiple areas and measures the disparities faced by disadvantaged groups (those most vulnerable to inequality, such as racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, or individuals living in poverty) across those domains.

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What is the Equity Indicators tool?

Structure of the Tool

The Equity Indicators tool consists of 72 indicators that measure disparities between black and white residents in St. Louis. The indicators are organized into three overarching themes that reflect the signature priorities of the Ferguson Commission report: Youth at the Center, Opportunity to Thrive, and Justice for All.

How were the indicators selected?

The Equity Indicators tool consists of 72 indicators that measure disparities between black and white residents in St. Louis. The indicators are organized into three overarching themes that reflect the signature priorities of the Ferguson Commission report: Youth at the Center, Opportunity to Thrive, and Justice for All. 

The inequities within these areas were researched, both through the analyses of existing data and the exploration of additional resources (e.g., For the Sake of All). Drawing on this research, a draft framework for the tool was created, including topics and potential indicators. 

With this draft framework in hand, feedback was solicited from a wide range of stakeholders, including community members, advocacy groups, government agencies, and City leadership. The stakeholders vetted potential indicators and explored the availability of existing data. Stakeholders who provided data or whose work would be reflected in the outcomes represented by specific indicators were prioritized. Throughout this process, the indicators were tested to see whether the data to populate them would be available annually and disaggregated by race, as well as whether the indicators would provide appropriate proxies for the complex issues being measured. At the end of this iterative process, eight indicators for each topic were chosen. Each indicator is weighted equally.

Additionally, several community workshops were conducted in order to further explore the barriers to overcoming the inequities identified and how to move forward, with the first three workshops focused on the city and the following two exploring the region more broadly.

Focus on black/white disparities

The St. Louis Equity Indicators tool measures disparities between black and white residents. Black residents make up 48% of the St. Louis population, and white residents make up 43%. There are much smaller percentages of Asian residents (3%), Hispanic residents (4%), and residents from other racial and ethnic groups (<3%).

While data is shared on Asian, Hispanic, and other-race residents when estimates are reliable, all ratios and scores compare outcomes between black and white residents, consistent with the framing of the Ferguson Commission report. This report is presented with an understanding that true equity for St. Louis City means equity for all residents, not just black and white residents.

In several cases, place is used as a proxy for race, primarily in the Neighborhoods topic. For example, the Vacancy indicator looks at majority-black neighborhoods, which have 10 times more vacancy than majority-white neighborhoods.

Why use Equity Scores?

According to CUNY ISLG, indicators are scored for several reasons:

  • To compare different types of data within one framework (e.g., percentages, rates)
  • To standardize indicators on a scale of 1 to 100 that is easy to understand
  • To track change from one year to the next in a consistent way for all indicators
  • To be able to aggregate (i.e., average) scores at higher levels of the framework

What do the Equity Scores mean?

To measure racial disparity, ratios are calculcated between the outcomes for two groups: black and white residents. Ratios are converted to scores on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 representing racial equity, using a ratio-to-score conversion table developed by CUNY ISLG.

Higher scores mean greater racial equity, while lower scores mean greater racial disparities. In the few cases where the expected disadvantaged group (black) scored better than the expected advantaged group (white), the indicator received a score of 100. However, higher scores can also mean everyone is doing equally poorly. For example, for High School Graduation Rates, one of the indicators in the Educational Attainment topic, the graduation rate for black students in St. Louis City is 84% compared to 80% for white students, which translates to an equity score of 100. But as a city, the goal is for the graduation rates of all students to be higher.

There are some exceptions to this methodology. While still focused on outcomes related to racial equity, two indicators measure outcomes for the whole city or a City department. In these cases, we convert the citywide or department-wide percentage to a score. These include Police Crisis Intervention Training, which measures the percentage of all active officers who have completed crisis intervention training, and Segregation, which measures the percentage of all residents who live in racially segregated neighborhoods. These indicators were chosen because they best address issues identified by the Ferguson Commission.

Comparing Both Advantages and Disadvantages

This report studies both advantage and disadvantage indicators. With advantage indicators, positive outcomes are measured whem residents have greater access to advantages. For these, the data for white residents is presented first, followed by data for black residents, and a ratio comparing outcomes for white to black residents is calculated. 

Sample Advantage indicator: High-Wage Occupations
White workers are nearly three times more likely than black workers to be employed in high-wage occupations.

With disadvantage indicators, negative outcomes are measured when residents suffer from disadvantage. For these, the data for black residents is presented first, followed by data for white residents, and a ratio comparing outcomes for black to white residents is calculated. 

Sample Disadvantage Indicator: Child Asthma
Black children are more than ten times as likely as white children to visit emergency rooms for asthma-related complications.

What else is included with each indicator?

For each indicator, we provide an explanation of what the indicator measures, the outcomes for black, white, and all residents, the ratio and score calculation, the source of our data, a written description of the findings, an explanation of why the indicator matters, a list of the related calls to action from the Ferguson Commission report, and additional resources for readers to find more information. 

Where does the data come from?

Data Sources

Data sources include administrative data from local, state, and federal government agencies, as well as secondary survey data (e.g., the American Community Survey). When possible and permitted, we will be sharing the underlying data sets used to develop the Equity Indicators on the City’s Open Data Portal. 

Other information

Static and Change Scores 

The tool scores indicators in two ways: a score for each given year, called a static score, and a score measuring change from the baseline, called a change score. This first report shares our baseline (only static scores), while the next report we release will share two years of static scores and the first round of change scores.

Rounded Values

The report uses uniform rounding rules for decimal places. Indicator ratios and scores are calculated using raw values from the data sources. The purpose of this explanation is to clarify any perceived discrepancy in data sources and the numerical values represented in this report.

See Also

About the Equity Indicators
An overview of the City of St. Louis equity indicators project

Frequently Asked Questions
Addressing common questions about the Equity Indicators project

A short history of how racism became institutionalized in St. Louis

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