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Dept. of Education to Create Online Dashboard of Equity Data

As part of a comprehensive plan to improve the education system and make it more equitable, the U.S. Department of Education is building an online dashboard of data related to equity in U.S. schools.

A pile of books in front of an abacus in front of a chalkboard with a bar graph showing different percentage levels.
To provide more transparency in the education space, as part of its inaugural equity action plan fulfilling an executive order from the Biden administration, the U.S. Department of Education will create an “Equity in Education” online information dashboard.

Described in a news release last week, the department laid out an action plan relating to Executive Order 13985 as a means to support underserved communities. According to the plan, the online dashboard is meant to inform the public; give educators and department officials a single, authoritative source of related language and statistics; and help them identify gaps in their “collective capacity to understand equity in education.”

The department’s first version of the dashboard is being developed by the Institute of Education Sciences’ National Center for Education Statistics, guided by a framework from the National Academies of Sciences. Future iterations of the dashboard may include graphical renderings as well as state and local data to show trends across grantees, the department’s plan said.

The Department of Education added that it is also looking into how data can help tell stories about equity and play a role in grantmaking. Because data visualizations can help inform the public about historical education inequities among underserved communities, the plan said, the department has made efforts to increase its ability to use them. For instance, it has flagged specific topics in grantmaking equity to be visualized, promoted trainings in data visualization, and held competitions in data visualization and storytelling.

The dashboard is just a snippet of the entirety of the department’s greater equity action plan, which strives to fix “long-standing disparities” in underserved areas, the news release said. Ultimately, the plan — which touches upon affordability, accessibility, grant funding equality, civil rights data collection, supporting learners with disabilities, building equity through Title IX and Title I, and equitable American Rescue Plan funding for K-12 students, among other things — aims to build an education system that meets the needs of the 21st century’s global economy, it said.

“We need to keep the focus on transforming our education system so it truly expands opportunity for all students, no matter their race, background, ZIP code, age, or family’s income,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a public statement.