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What Data Does U.S. Department of Education Collect? Stand By...


For the real edunerd in us all, mark your calendars for November—that's when a new searchable website is expected to debut that catalogs all of the data the U.S. Department of Education collects, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

Of course, this is the federal government we're talking about, so don't hold your breath on November.

Burdensome data collection is one of the most popular complaints about federal education laws, the GAO said. The report was sparked when U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of House education committee, and Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., asked the GAO "to determine the breadth of Education's data collection efforts, including identifying the individual data elements collected from respondents."

What's interesting and telling is that the GAO couldn't answer the last question because the federal Education Department doesn't already have a comprehensive list of exactly what data it collects. But, federal officials say they are working on that, and will have "a web version of the inventory [that] will allow users to search for data collections by keyword, including searching for data elements collected, or to browse data collections by topic."

UPDATE, 2:54 p.m.: Education Department spokesman Daren Briscoe further explained that the "new site will be an inventory that points people to the data, but it will not house or mirror the data files themselves. Many of these files already are publicly available for instant download via data.gov or nces.ed.gov (among other places) and many can be accessed via web analysis tools. But other files require a restricted-use license and aren't/won't be instantly available on demand. The inventory, however, will catalog all of them."

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