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Ed. Dept. Unveils Data-on-Demand Website

Fresh after announcing the development of an Online Learning Registry, the U.S. Department of Education today unveiled ED Data Express, a website that houses national and state data from across the Department's program offices, the National Center for Education Statistics, and The College Board, and allows users to selectively pull data to create comparative charts and tables.

Anyone can use the site so long as you agree to its terms of use, and doing so allows access to results of state tests and the NAEP, graduation rates, school accountability information, budget figures, and demographics. The site also provides snapshot pages depicting all those data together for a particular state.

Unfortunately, you'll still need an understanding of the basic data jargon that even many of my more experienced colleagues occasionally grapple with. But if the site can maintain currency and accuracy, it's a giant and much-needed step forward in unifying numbers that were often found in drastically different places from state to state. For our purposes here at EdWeek headquarters, it simplifies tasks that are sometimes surprisingly difficult, such as determining statewide student enrollment for one of our Capitol Recaps.

Along with the Online Learning Registry, ED Data Express is another sign that the Department means what it says when it comes to providing easier online access to educational resources. The bigger question is whether it matters. Education Secretary Duncan said in a statement that these tools will allow policymakers and educators to make better decisions about the future. But sometimes, the same data have a funny way of supporting two (or even more) very different arguments.

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