The growing problem of data access in education
- NPR examines the growing trend of inaccessible or incomprehensible data provided by states on secondary education performance, which offers citizens broken links and hard-to-read education jargon on what scores and access really means.
- The report is aligned with similar complaints from the higher education community regarding the federal government's data keeping on colleges and universities, which offers a number of resources providing a number of varying views on retention, graduation rates, postgraduate job placement and other key factors which influence funding and public perception of schools.
- Without the information, parents across all levels of education are deprived of an accurate context for which schools are an ideal fit for their children, or for their money.
There is no obligation for state or federal education departments to help citizens more easily understand data; the mandate is only that the data is made available. But despite that irony, education executives are on the hook for delivering metrics and convincing a general public that the industry and their institutions are doing an effective job of meeting goals which are not easily understood with terms like FTEs and retention and attrition.
College presidents and provosts should consider parsing and presenting these reports in more easily understood terms and with appropriate contexts for public investment, changing trends in industry and tax revenues. This would help constituents to better understand the role they play in helping institutions to survive and to thrive.