Resource Center

Beat guide for education

Keep the stories flowing with this story pack for covering the education beat. Whether it's keeping tabs on your local campus' crime stats, crunching the numbers on teacher performance data, or investigating for-profit colleges, we've got tipsheets and stories for you to get the most out of your ideas.

Related Tipsheets

  • The Unsung Documents of College Athletics
    Get tips on investigating the cars, the planes, the meals, and the free tickets that come with the territory of college athletics.

  • Downloading the Data on Teachers
    "Crunching teacher performance data is one of the hottest -- and most controversial -- areas in education reporting right now." Felch offers helpful tips on how to utilize that data to find out who's cheating who.

  • Clout Goes to College
    Cohen gives examples of the FOIA requests and challenges faced during the Chicago Tribune's "Clout Goes To College" series. Included are examples of the FOIA requests sent and data obtained.

  • Accountability Reporting in Higher Education
    Lombardi's tipsheet addresses covering campus crime. She talks about finding sources, a difficult process through the student judicial process. She suggests sources for campus crime data; public records laws by state; and points to a toolkit developed by the Center for Public Integrity for covering campus crime

  • Turning schools data into scoops
    Vogell explains the value of school data as a rich source for stories on education. She explains where and how to start with your reporting. She discusses out what to look at when evaluating test scores and student achievement; discipline and school safety; teaching and certification; various other valuable data.

Related Stories

  • Campus Sexual Assaults: Few Tough Sanctions Imposed
    Using data from the Department of Justice, the story examined how perpetrators of sexual assault on college campuses were punished if found guilty. The authors found that the majority of schools were not issuing tough sanctions against these perpetrators.

  • "NCAA - College Athletic Fees"
    In this months-long report, USA Today analyzed hundreds of "financial reports" that college athletic programs are "required to release to the NCAA." They found that many schools are relying more on student fees to finance sports programs (without student's knowledge). The investigation also reveals a growing "unrest" at many universities in response to the financial "divide between sports and academics."

  • "Grading the Teachers"
    The LA Times studied schools throughout the Los Angeles Unified School District. Using gain-score analysis, data linking standardized test scores and various evaluation techniques, the Times identified the "most and least effective" teachers and schools in the district. Reporters examined schools ranked high by the API standard, only to find inconsistencies in student performance.

  • Failure Gets a Pass
    The investigations uncovers just how rarely California school districts fire probationary instructors. Teachers who abuse, molest and harm children are often kept in the classroom. The articles explore how districts demonstrate a lax attitude toward teacher evaluations, confuse state laws and neglect regulations.

  • Catering Expensive Taste
    The Memphis City Schools' nutrition department was found to have little regulation over questionable spending, wasting food and providing employees and public officials free food for private events.

Related Databases

  • DOE Campus Crime

    This data set contains campus crime statistics from the U.S. Department of Education collected under the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. It includes alleged criminal offenses reported to campus police or security and local law enforcement.

    Data for years 2001 - 2009 come in DBF format, easily imported into Access.  Eventually they will be available in CSV format as well. The 2010 - 2012 files are in CSV format, comma-delimited with a double quote text qualifier.

    The Clery Act requires colleges and universities to disclose certain timely and annual information about campus crime and security policies. All public and private institutions participating in federal student aid programs are subject to it.

    On Oct. 1 of each year, schools are required to publish and distribute an annual campus security report to all current students and employees with crime statistics for the three most recent calendar years. The statistical information contained in each report are based on the calendar year (Jan. 1 - Dec. 31) in which the crime was reported to campus officials.

    Crimes are reported in the following 7 major categories, with several sub-categories:

    • Criminal homicide broken down by a) Murder and Non-negligent manslaughter and b), Negligent manslaughter
    • Sex offenses broken down by Forcible Sex Offenses (includes rape) and Non-forcible Sex Offenses
    • Robbery
    • Aggravated Assault
    • Burglary
    • Motor Vehicle Theft
    • Arson

    These crimes are included in the report whether they are prosecuted or not.

    Schools also report the following three types of incidents if they result in either an arrest or if the accused is referred for campus disciplinary proceedings:

    • Liquor Law Violations
    • Drug Law Violations
    • Illegal Weapons Possessions

    The report must also indicate if any of the reported "index" crimes, or any other crime involving bodily injury, was a "hate crime."

    The statistics are broken down geographically into on-campus, residential, non-campus and public property.

  • Federal Grants/FAADS

    This purchase includes only the latest fiscal year of the Federal Assistance Award Data System (2008). Fiscal years 1983-2007 can be found in our archives.

    The Federal Assistance Award Data System, or FAADS, is maintained by the U.S. Census Bureau. It contains records of federal assistance awarded to state and local governments as well as all major programs giving transfer payments to individuals, loans, or insurance. More than 1,000 federal assistance programs are covered under FAADS. The data is based upon the fiscal year calendar and collected quarterly by the Census Bureau under mandates of Title 31, Section 6102(a) of the United States Code.

    Each standard record is identified as being one of two possible types: county aggregate and action-by-action. Each action-by-action record contains such items as the name and location of the recipient (but not the address), the amount of the awarded or amended federal assistance (usually on the basis of the obligated amount), the program under which the award was made, and the project description.