Ed Data Express

U.S. Department of Education
August 2010

This week, ED launched a new online database that presents state-level achievement, graduation, accountability, demographic, and budgetary data in a single resource. Because it’s billed as the analyst’s dream come true, we decided to have a look ourselves. Here’s what we found: The data are not new—all of the information that the database compiles could previously be found scattered across ED’s website—but it does assemble that information and allow data to be compared across states and years. Sources include departments within ED, the National Center for Education Statistics, and the College Board, as well as self-reported state numbers. And it is indeed user-friendly: Drop-down menus make it easy to construct a table of a single state’s data or to compare data across multiple states. This allows for quick and straight-forward results, a handy tool for any researcher, journalist, or policy wonk (although ED cautions that state test scores should NOT be compared to each other or to NAEP). The database also includes some nifty bits, such as data on how many students took advantage of the opportunity to transfer from schools that did not meet adequate yearly progress under NCLB—and presents some data graphically. Sadly but unsurprisingly, given the data they had to work with, you won’t find anything here at the district or school level. And you need to be wary of self-reported state data, the more so when trying to compare states. Still, it’s a neat new tool, and a welcome shift towards transparency and accountability on the part of ED. Give it a test drive here.

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