Unlocking the Power of Education Data for All Americans

In October, while announcing a series of actions to lower student loan payments, President Obama tasked the US Chief Technology Officer with further leveraging data and technology to help provide students and parents with more comparative information about college costs and college aid, so they can make more informed decisions about where to enroll.

This morning, the Administration announced several public- and private-sector initiatives—including the launch of education.data.gov, the latest in a growing number of data.gov communities—that respond to and even reach beyond the President’s call, in order to unlock the power of education data to make it accessible and useful for all Americans.

Taken together, this “Education Data Initiative” promises to harness the power of open data from the Department of Education and other sources to help consumers make more informed decisions on higher education and to improve learning outcomes. It fulfills an important commitment in President Obama’s U.S. National Action Plan, released in September 2011 as a part of the Open Government Partnership, to establish a “data.gov” community focused on education.

The mission of unlocking the innovative potential of data held by our government is a core component of President Obama’s open government initiative, launched on his first full day in office, which emphasizes the importance of a government that is more transparent, participatory, and collaborative.  Our Administration’s education agenda, including initiatives like Race to the Top and the ESEA Flexibility Package, have emphasized the centrality of data. As with other Federal agencies, the Department has also published an open government plan and launched a series of flagship initiatives—among them a “Learning Registry,” to simplify access to digital learning resources on the Internet that align with college- and career-ready standards, and an Innovation Portal to tap into the expertise of the American people in solving today’s educational challenges.

But the Department of Education, which holds some of the richest sources of education data in the country, has not stopped there. Some of the announcements made today include significant improvements on existing programs, and the newest of these initiatives, Education.data.gov, promises to break entirely new ground by serving as a central repository for education data resources, featuring numerous data sets and data visualization tools, and providing areas for mobile apps, prizes and challenges, international engagement, classroom materials, upcoming events, and much more.

Together, the initiatives announced today will help the Nation harness the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of educators and innovators all over the country, while empowering American students and families with the tools and information they need to make optimal choices as they pursue their educational goals.

Aneesh Chopra is US Chief Technology Officer and Zakiya Smith is a Senior Policy Advisor for Education in the Domestic Policy Council

Your Federal Tax Receipt