Five Reasons to Check-Out the Department’s New Open Data Platform

Open data is everywhere today…including the Department of Education. ED’s Open Data Platform (ODP) is bringing transparency to our public data in a way that is accessible, valuable, and user-friendly. The ODP has something for everyone – and provides easy access to all available Department public data resources in a way that makes it easy to find what you’re looking for. For the educator, researcher, parent and public, ODP provides the following benefits:

All Publicly Available Department Data in One Place

The Department of Education publishes a large volume of data every year, from K-12 assessment scores to financial aid reports, but that data is published on individual websites. The ODP brings together all the valuable data in one place.  It also introduces users to data that they may not have known the Department produced which enhances research and can further inform policy.

Metadata Showcased so that Users know what They’re Looking at

Metadata is data about data and provides descriptions and information about the data that is being used. Metadata helps researchers find and work with the data file easier.  The ODP makes it easy to see and understand the metadata associated with each data resource – no digging required! Those elements include things like “title”, “tags”, and “description.”

ODP Provides Something of Interest for Everyone

From casual users to academic researchers, the ODP provides useful data for everyone. Casual users can browse and learn about new data or discover interactive tools and visualizations about topics such as assessments or student aid. Researchers can dig into the downloadable data files and discover multiple sources that can enrich their studies. Developers can go straight to the API and create new and exciting apps and dashboards that leverage ED’s data.

Friendly User Interface

It was top priority that the ODP was well-polished and easy to navigate.  Features include a prominent search bar, and the ability to search for data by category, years of data, and other areas of interest. Users will also be able to see when new data is published and what data is trending right from the home page. Users can also easily filter data profiles based on key metadata, such as level of data, tags, and categories. A helpful sorting feature also allows user to look at their search results in multiple ways.

Increases Transparency

There are plans to grow the ODP with time by adding descriptions for all the data ED collects and maintains, even though the data may not be available for public access due to privacy or other legal constraints. ED takes the privacy of data very seriously. No data with any identifying features will ever be made public. This includes individual financial information and individual student records. In the future, we hope to provide data analysts outside ED with easy ways to identify and suggest additional datasets for public release.

The ODP is here, but that doesn’t mean we’re done innovating. Enhancements to the platform already planned include new metadata elements, dataset visualizations built into the website, and a public discussion forum. New datasets will be continuously added as they are published. Please send feedback on the site and ideas for improvements to ODP@ed.gov.

Sara Stefanik and Talya Gulman

Office of the Chief Data Officer, OPEPD