Education Data Initiative

The goal of the Education Data Initiative, launched in January 2012, is to make data available to improve educational outcomes, accelerate innovation, and create jobs in the public and private sector, all while rigorously protecting learner privacy. As part of the initiative the Department has held a series of Education Dataplooza events highlighting innovators from the private, nonprofit, and academic sectors who have utilized freely available government data to build products, services, and apps that advance postsecondary education in creative and powerful ways.

Open Data Resources

Open educational data can take many forms, including school performance data, lists of grant applicants, specifications (see Common Educational Data Standards), data standards (see financial aid shopping sheet template), and even data about learning resources (see Learning Registry).  Below you will find additional resources related to open data in education.

A. ED Data Inventory

The goal of the ED Data Inventory is to describe all data reported to the Department of Education, with the exception of personnel and administrative data. It includes data collected as part of grant activities, along with statistical data collected to allow publication of valuable statistics about the state of education in this country. The ED Data Inventory includes descriptive information about each data collection, along with information on the specific data elements in individual collections.  View the ED Data Inventory.

B. Integrated Postsecondary Data System (IPEDS)

IPEDS is the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. It is a system of interrelated surveys conducted annually by the U.S. Department’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). IPEDS gathers information from every college, university, and technical and vocational institution that participates in the federal student financial aid programs. The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, requires that institutions that participate in federal student aid programs report data on enrollments, program completions, graduation rates, faculty and staff, finances, institutional prices, and student financial aid. These data are made available to students and parents through the College Navigator college search website and to researchers and others through the IPEDS Data Center.

What can IPEDS Data Tell Me?

  • How many and what type of students are enrolled at a postsecondary institution each semester?
  • How selective is the admissions process at a postsecondary institution?
  • How many and what percentage of students receive various types of financial aid at a postsecondary institution?
  • How much does a postsecondary institution actually cost and how has that price changed over time?
  • What percent of students graduate on time or within 150 and 200 percent of normal time?
  • What types of degrees and in what programs does a postsecondary institution award degrees and certificates to students?
  • How much does a college or other postsecondary institution actually spend on instruction?
  • What is the incidence (count of offenses over the number of students enrolled and faculty employed per 1,000) of reported crimes on a campus?

C. Federal Student Aid Data Center

The Federal Student Aid Data Center is the centralized repository for information related to programs administered by the Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid, including Pell Grants, Stafford Loans, and PLUS loans. The information available in the Data Center is divided into three categories: Student Aid Data, School Data, and Federal Family Education Loan and Guaranty Agency Reports.

What Can the Federal Student Aid Data Center Data Tell Me?

  • How often are students at a given postsecondary institution defaulting on their loans?
  • How many students at a given high school or within a given State completed a FAFSA?
  • How much federal student aid did students at a postsecondary institution receive and how has that changed over time?
  • How many federal student aid recipients attend a given postsecondary institution?

D. National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS)

The National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) examines the characteristics of students in postsecondary education, with special focus on how they finance their education. The purpose of NPSAS is to compile a comprehensive research dataset, based on student-level records, on financial aid provided by the federal government, the States, postsecondary institutions, employers, and private agencies, along with student demographic and enrollment data. NPSAS is the primary source of information used by the federal government (and others, such as researchers and higher education associations) to analyze student financial aid and to inform public policy on such programs as the Pell grants and Stafford loans.

These data are made available to the public through NCES’ DataLab Web site, which provides researchers and others with pre-created tables and data analysis tools for examining 12 NCES postsecondary education datasets, including data from the 1996 through 2012 NPSAS cohorts.  Qualified researchers who wish to access more detailed NPSAS data can submit a restricted-use data license application through NCES’ Electronic Application System.

What Can the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study Data Tell Me?

  • What is the distribution of postsecondary institutions attended by all undergraduate students?
  • What is the demographic makeup of undergraduate students?
  • How do undergraduate students finance their education and what types of financial aid do they receive?
  • What percentage of undergraduate students take out loans to finance their education and what is the average amount borrowed?
  • What percentage of first-year undergraduate students take remedial courses?
  • What is the median time to degree completion for undergraduate students and how many postsecondary institutions do they typically attend?
  • What are the most common degree programs pursued by graduate and professional students?
  • What percentage of graduate students receive student aid and what types of aid do they receive?

E. Beginning Postsecondary Student Longitudinal Study (BPS)
Each cycle of the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS) follows a cohort of students who are enrolling in postsecondary education for the first time. BPS surveys cohorts of first-time, beginning postsecondary students at three points in time: at the end of their first year, and then three and six years after first starting in postsecondary education. The study collects data on student persistence in, and completion of, postsecondary education programs, their transition to employment, demographic characteristics, and changes over time in their goals, marital status, income, and debt, among other indicators.

These data are made available to the public through NCES’ DataLab Web site, which provides researchers and others with pre-created tables and data analysis tools for examining 12 NCES postsecondary education datasets, including data from all BPS cohorts. Qualified researchers who wish to access more detailed BPS data can submit a restricted-use data license application through NCES’ Electronic Application System.

What Can the Beginning Postsecondary Student Longitudinal Study Data Tell Me?

  • What were the postsecondary education plans of beginning postsecondary students when they were seniors in high school?
  • What were the high school grade point averages (GPAs) of beginning postsecondary students who are recent high school graduates?
  • What percentage of beginning postsecondary students earned college credits while in high school?
  • What is the demographic makeup of beginning postsecondary students?
  • What is the distribution of postsecondary institutions attended by beginning postsecondary students?
  • How do beginning postsecondary students finance their education and what types of financial aid do they receive?
  • What percentage of beginning postsecondary students take out loans to finance their education and what is the average amount borrowed?
  • What percentage of beginning postsecondary students complete a certificate or degree within six years of first enrolling in college?

F. Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B)

The Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B) examines students’ education and work experiences after they complete a bachelor’s degree, with a special emphasis on the experiences of new elementary and secondary teachers. Following several cohorts of students over time, B&B looks at bachelor’s degree recipients’ workforce participation, income and debt repayment, and entry into and persistence through graduate school programs, among other indicators. It addresses several issues specifically related to teaching, including teacher preparation, entry into and persistence in the profession, and teacher career paths. B&B also gathers extensive information on bachelor’s degree recipients’ undergraduate experience, demographic backgrounds, expectations regarding graduate study and work, and participation in community service. The 2008 B&B cohort also includes an oversample of STEM graduates.

These data are made available to the public through NCES’ DataLab Web site, which provides researchers and others with pre-created tables and data analysis tools for examining 12 NCES postsecondary education datasets, including data from all B&B cohorts.  Qualified researchers who wish to access more detailed B&B data can submit a restricted-use data license application through NCES’ Electronic Application System.

What Can the Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study Data Tell Me?

  • What is the distribution of postsecondary institutions attended by students who obtained bachelor’s degrees?
  • What is the demographic makeup of first-time bachelor’s degree recipients?
  • What percentage of first-time bachelor’s degree recipients take out loans to finance their education and what is the average amount borrowed?
  • What is the median time to degree completion for first-time bachelor’s degree recipients and how many postsecondary institutions do they typically attend?
  • What percentage of bachelor’s degree recipients enroll in a graduate degree program during the study period?
  • What percentage of first-time bachelor’s degree recipients are employed one year after graduation and what is their average salary

Current Initiatives

My Data Initiative
The MyData Initiative seeks for every student (or parent of an underage student as appropriate) to have access to his or her own academic data, wherever that data is stored, in both machine-readable and human-readable format.  Learn more about the MyData Initiative.

Learning Registry
The Learning Registry is a new way to identify and find educational resources online. Content creators, teachers, or everyday Internet browsers can add content to the registry, tagging it according to quality, keyword, and/or alignment to common core standards. As this information is collected, the most effective resources on particular topics bubble to the top, allowing teachers to find effective course supplements (or even entire courses) with minimal time and effort.  Learn more about the Learning Registry.

Open Badges
Open Badges is an innovative infrastructure that allows colleges and industry organizations to award micro-credentials (badges) to students who demonstrate proficiency in specific competencies. A student may earn a particular competency badge by demonstrating prior experience, or by participating in courses or informal learning experiences.  Because the technology behind the badges is open, a learner can collect badges from any number of different organizations and showcase them in one single place. Eventually, employers may use open badges to search for new employees based on specific competencies, leveling the playing field for job-seekers while doing a better job of matching the right skillsets to the right positions.  Learn more about the Open Badges.

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