US Dept of Education Launches New Data Dashboard

The U.S. Department of Education today launched a new website that provides convenient and transparent access to key national and state education data, highlighting the progress being made across the country in every level of the education system and encouraging communities to engage in a conversation about their schools. The United States Education Dashboard, available at http://dashboard.ed.gov, presents important indicators of whether the country is making progress toward the President’s goal – that, by 2020, the United States will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

“The Dashboard highlights both our successes and challenges while providing a new level of transparency that is absolutely essential to our efforts to accelerate student achievement,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “We hope communities will use this information to determine where we need to focus on reforms and investments in education.”

The Dashboard contains a range of cradle-to-career data that furthers the Department’s efforts to provide a more accessible and transparent view of the country’s educational system. On a single webpage, those interested will be able to view indicators of the nation’s performance in education, gauge their state’s progress and see how their state is performing compared to others. The indicators in the Dashboard focus on some key outcomes:  Are we preparing young children to enter school? Are students making sufficient progress to graduate from high school and college? Are they completing college in a timely fashion? Are we providing an excellent education to all students?

This first version of the Dashboard contains a set of 16 indicators that range from participation in early childhood education through completion of postsecondary education, plus indicators on teachers and leaders, and equity for elementary, secondary, and postsecondary students. The Dashboard also includes a section, “An Excellent Education for All,” which provides data on whether subgroups are performing sufficiently. In addition to compiling key data previously reported, the Dashboard presents two new indicators.

The first shows the number of states that indicated in their 2010 State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) reports that they have school districts that evaluate their teachers or their principals based in part on student growth or student achievement. The second new indicator shows how high-poverty school districts are funded compared to low-poverty districts in their state.

The Dashboard allows users to quickly find information they need and view it in several different ways.  It also allows users to download customized reports for further analyses.

The Department is committed to continually updating the Dashboard’s data and to enhancing the tools on the website. Indicators will be updated as new information becomes available, and users are encouraged to provide comments and feedback on the Dashboard so that usability and functionality can be enhanced in updates and subsequent versions.

Check out the Dashboard HERE.

Governor Brown’s Budget Cuts Education

The California Governor’s new budget slashes education across the board, including K-12 and higher education. Despite the dire economic situation in California, educators and voters alike were hoping to restore funding to their needed levels.

Dr. Arun Ramanathan, executive director of The Education Trust—West, issued the following statement regarding the release of Governor Brown’s proposed budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year:

“The proposed budget by Governor Brown identifies painful cuts in education. These could be worse without legislative action and public approval of a potential proposition to extend tax increases – both of which have been difficult to secure in the past.”

“We are deeply concerned about the cuts to education and the potential for deeper cuts. Over the past three years, our state’s budget has been balanced on the backs of our children.  These cuts have disproportionally impacted students of color and students in poverty by increasing class sizes, cutting summer school and eliminating intervention programs that support student learning in districts across California.  For far too long, our education decisions have been made based on adult interests, not the needs of students.” READ MORE HERE.

Brown proposes spending $63.8 billion for K-12 schools next year, down $2.6 billion from this year’s budget, with much of the difference coming from the loss of federal stimulus money. The governor said state funding of schools is “generally even” next year compared with this year because schools have borne the brunt of past spending reductions.

However, some $2 billion of the school money would disappear if voters do not approve an extension of existing taxes in a ballot measure this summer.

The reduction in the education budget alarmed Marty Hittelman, president of the California Federation of Teachers.

“The proposed state budget continues to threaten the future of California by reducing our investment in public education and the students who will lead our state in the coming years,” Hittelman said, adding that the proposed new cuts in education would come on top of $18 billion in school-funding decreases over the last three years.

Brown proposed to reduce funding for the University of California and California State University systems by $500 million each, which he said was “a very difficult cut.”

For Cal State the reduction represents an 18% cut in funding from the state general fund, according to CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed, who predicted it will “have serious impacts on the state’s economy, limit access for students seeking entrance into our universities, and restrict classes and services for our current students.”

UC President Mark G. Yudof called it “a sad day for California” but said “the university will stand up and do all it can to help the state through what is a fiscal, structural and political crisis.”

The proposed budget will also be painful for community college students, who would see their fees climb from $26 per credit unit to $36.

What do you think about the governor’s budget?