As readers continue to submit questions for Post editors, we’ll aim to reply to them in the comments thread and also post some of the questions and answers in blog posts throughout the week. Please note that we’ll also reach out to editors in the newsroom to get responses when appropriate.
The answer in this post comes from Education Editor Nick Anderson. We’ve posted the question below and the answer after the jump. You can submit your own questions in the comments here or by using the hash tag #askthepost on Twitter.
Q: Even though Post reporters continue to link to it, the excellent interactive database created for the exceptional 2007 7-part Post investigative series “Fixing DC’s Schools” has never been updated. Other aspects of the series’ multimedia presentation and reporting also need updating.
This type of data-driven (news-you-can-use) reporting, presented in a multimedia format, might just be the future of award-winning journalism. Why not update it? — nhthouse
A: from Education Editor Nick Anderson
Great question. The universe of data on schools is immense, and constantly evolving. It takes a great deal of staff time to cull through such data to ensure that it’s current, relevant and accurate. What was compiled for the 2007 project was terrific, but as you note, it is far outdated.
Complicating all of this, the state and D.C. agencies responsible for data about public schools do not collect it or report it in a uniform way.
We spend a great deal of energy reporting articles that analyze and decipher education trends. Generally we collect and vet data for those individual stories and projects. We do have a unique set of national data compiled by our columnist Jay Mathews, called the High School Challenge, that analyzes how much public schools challenge students through participation in college-level testing. For more on that, go to washingtonpost.com/highschoolchallenge. We also have compiled some user-friendly resources and school system data at washingtonpost.com/backtoschool.
But we know, of course, that it would provide a valuable service to readers to have much more information about individual schools available at washingtonpost.com on an ongoing basis. Please be assured that we are continuing to work on ways to provide more real-time data, in all subject areas, for our readers. Stay tuned for advances in our data collection and presentation at washingtonpost.com. For continuous education coverage, go to washingtonpost.com/education, and for specialized coverage of colleges, washingtonpost.com/higher-ed.
Thank you for reading.