Announcing Sunlight’s Education Data Policy Compendium

(Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

In an earlier post, we reviewed some of the data rules and policies adopted by school districts. While many cities, states and counties have made stunning progress in the last few years creating policies and implementing open data programs, few school districts have so far followed their lead. School officials must be careful about what data they release: Very specific information regarding individual students and teachers must be private and secure. However, as Sunlight believes (along with some people in the White House), there can be significant positive benefits to more open aggregated data from school districts.

Sunlight isn’t focused on all the debates around school improvement, but we care deeply about the future of cities and in making sure the public has important information about that future. Given our passion for transparency and the crucial role that education plays in local governance, we want to get a sense of how schools currently treat their data. To find out, and to encourage school district officials to better enshrine open data practices, Sunlight is building a compendium of school districts’ policies, regulations, resolutions, protocols and other rules related to the release of education data. In part because school district language about open data is so rare (compared to city government counterparts), the compendium will include rules on releasing data to outside researchers and provisions for protecting information about individuals.

To view this document in a new window, click here. If you have other comments for us about this project, please feel free to share them by emailing
This compendium contains only a very tiny fraction of the about 14,000 public school districts in the United States, and focuses on some of the larger and more urban school systems that are more likely to have easy-to-find written rules about data. That is why we leave this document open for comments from the public: If you can find another data policy from one of the school districts already on the compendium, or if you know of relevant policies from a school district not yet listed, we invite you to comment with a link and short description for the policy. That way, we hope to gain a greater base of information about how school districts are handling their data — and develop greater momentum for more data to become open and easily accessible for the public.