(this page is part of my Open Data, Open Society report. Please follow that link to reach the introduction and Table of Content, but don’t forget to check the notes to readers!)

Data about the education system include demographic summaries of students distribution, aggregated scores, school locations and costs, curricula, average age, salaries and specialization of teachers, grant programs. Access to this information can help families to spot deficiencies in the education system and ask that they be fixed, or students to choose which schools to attend.

The latter application is the object of a UK proposal: having an online database listing the number of predicted skill shortages in each area of employment, the number of university places and so on could give a general overview of the job market: “This would be a great portal to make sure that we are not offering education at the tax payers expense or burdening people with debt with no real prospect of work - Or funding the education of those that we then lose to another country”. Other citizens asked to track the proportion of budget that schools spend on teacher salary, resources, books etc. over time, to help understand if and how increased spending has actually increased quality of education. Websites displaying the location of UK schools according to the rating assigned to them by education watchdog Ofsted already exist.

In USA, the Data.ed.gov launched in 2010 will increase access to education data. The site will ultimately serve as a one-stop shop where practitioners, researchers, and the public can access information about Department grant programs by providing tools that allow users to know which initiatives are funded in each community or see grant applications on a map that includes the option of overlays by congressional districts, filtering the results in several ways.

For example, a user could search for all applicants in Texas that applied for grants to address a specific priority. Data.ed.gov also allows users to export data sets in a file format that can be loaded easily into common spreadsheet and data analysis tools.