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Correction: New Data Tool Puts Ed. Research in K-12 Policy Context

Correction: The Walton Family Foundation Inc. gave nearly $1.5 billion cumulatively to education as of 2010.

There's a lot of data on education online, from test scores to discipline statistics, but it can be difficult for researchers and educators in the field to put information from disparate data systems into the proper policy context of each state. The Laura and John Arnold Foundation in Houston is testing a new tool to create a more cohesive background for education policy research.

The Education Resource Information Navigator project, or ERIN, brings together state and national information—education funders, reform groups, existing policy, and technological capacity and innovation, as well as research—in 13 topics, including testing, curricula, teachers, and charter schools.

"Education information is really siloed; it's hard for people to find out about education policy and practice around an issue," said Caprice Y. Young, the vice president for education at the Arnold Foundation. "We want to focus on creating great schools and creating the policy environment for great schools to thrive."

The site allows visitors to cross-reference topics; for example, finding the top eight education funders interested in using charter schools for drop-out prevention. (The Walton Family Foundation Inc. gave nearly $1.5 billion cumulatively to education as of 2010, including $157 million in 2010, leading the pack.) Researchers can also find which states have put into place particular discipline policies, or which interventions won the most financial support in a given year.

The project is now in public beta testing, and Young said the foundation will release updated versions as researchers and educators give feedback on the tool. "The challenge with anything like this is to hit the right level of detail for the right experience level of the individual," Young told me. "It will sometimes feel too basic for researchers who are used to plowing through ERIC, but then again it may feel too difficult for parents just trying to figure out where to send their kids to school."

Check out the site to participate in the beta.

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