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When Public Education Data Isn’t Really Public

The last decade brought an explosion of open data in government. The U.S. government’s data center,, has nearly 200,000 published datasets. The Education Department has released many large sets, including College Scorecard and its Civil Rights Data. Many of these are targeted to developers: they span thousands of columns and hundreds of thousands of rows and can’t be opened in Excel. If a local school official can’t learn how her school stacks up to others and if a parent can’t use the data to see which school is better for his child, is it really open? After U.S. News published data in an easy-to-use tool, readers spent hours exploring it. Why isn't all data this accessible?

Additional Supporting Materials

Learning Objectives

  1. Gain familiarity with available open datasets and benefits to education professionals and local decision makers.
  2. Discuss how barriers prevent access to open data and learn what work-arounds are currently available for gaining access and insights.
  3. Come away with some possible solutions for making public data more public, that can be implemented now by local officials or national policy makers.



Lindsey Cook, Data Editor, US News & World Report

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