President’s 2017 Budget Prioritizes Using and Developing Evidence and Data

Published Feb 10, 2016

by: Amanda Janice Roberson 

In the President’s 2017 budget proposal this week, the Department of Education (ED) budget includes $15 million for the new InformED initiative. ED is launching the initiative this year, and the proposed 2017 budget will support the building of “new infrastructure to manage the collection, quality, release, and analysis of data in innovative and effective ways,” according to an ED blog post. InformED continues the momentum of the College Scorecard and aims to increase data transparency and accessibility at ED for use by internal personnel, students, taxpayers, institutions, policymakers, and researchers.

Outlined in the budget justification, the proposed budget divides funding for InformED into three areas:

  • $13 million is directed towards statewide longitudinal data system (SLDS). The budget directs $8 million of this funding to create and support State Data Liaisons within State Education Agencies (SEAs) to build staff capacity to improve data collection and reporting and to meet the new reporting requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). These data liaisons will ensure data accuracy and reliability and coordinate data collection and reporting between SEAs and ED.

The additional $5 million of SLDS funding creates a Support and Service Center to serve as the central point of support for State Data Liaisons. The Service Center will provide ongoing support and training, conduct orientations for new coordinators, organize workshops and webinar trainings, and coordinate across-state data collection for consistency, quality, and fidelity to reporting requirements. InformED will also leverage state-level best practices to improve how ED organizes and publicizes data.

  • A half million dollars supports the development of P-12 and Postsecondary Information Hubs, which are designed to pull together ED’s diverse array of data and research on a specific topic, make these materials more accessible with intuitive, easy-to-use tools, and enable open data access. The hubs are directed toward a wide variety of audiences and, like the College Scorecard, would enable external developers to create other innovative tools utilizing the data to further serve students.
  • Remaining budget allocations will also support improvements to the ED Data Inventory.

InformED is designed to leverage the data available through ED to answer pressing questions from students, parents, institutions, policymakers, and researchers. Increased transparency and data availability are essential to improving the postsecondary data infrastructure at the national and state levels, while maintaining data privacy and security. This focus on improving the quality, accessibility, and leveraging existing data shows a commitment to improved data capacity for internal and public users and should continue to spur innovation and improvements at ED.