Watchdogs over higher education rarely bite

College accreditation might sound like a wonky subject – the kind of thing that only interests policy makers and people at think tanks. But accreditors have tremendous power. Colleges have to be accredited in order to get federal student aid. This system is the main thing standing between colleges and billions of dollars – $134…

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Identical teacher evaluation scores raise questions for Idaho journalists

When Idaho lawmakers voted in 2015 to increase teacher pay by more than $250 million, many had no idea the accountability measures they attached to their funding formula were rooted in flawed data. Working as part of a two-person reporting team at Idaho Education News, we used public school records to show that school administrators…

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How to investigate and analyze police pursuit data, policies

If you live in a metropolitan area with multiple police departments — as many of us do — it might surprise you to learn how many have conflicting and uncoordinated police pursuit policies that put residents at risk. Highlighting this in your area might be quicker and easier than you think. And you might get…

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How dangerous are uncontrolled intersections?

Billings is a city of 110,000 in the southeastern part of Montana. It’s partitioned by sandstone cliffs and punctuated by refineries and casinos. In the middle of town, there’s a lone high-rise from which a row of dive bars, breweries and eateries extends before sprawling into a grid of old neighborhoods with an abundance of…

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Data analysis shows red-light camera did little to reduce crashes

The first red-light camera in Collier County, Florida, was installed near the county’s busiest intersection in April 2009, a year after the cameras were approved by a divided county commission. In a little over a year, the cameras were snaring red-light violators at 19 spots near 10 intersections. The cameras were always touted as safety…

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State database reveals ‘overbedding’ problem in Illinois hospitals

Graphic from Crain’s Chicago Business  Chicago is one of the most fragmented hospital markets in the country, with 95 hospitals in a six-county area competing to survive. Fewer patients are walking through their doors for a host of reasons. Hospitals and doctors are being paid to keep patients healthy and away from costly overnight stays,…

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Parking permit data leads to stories, new reporting tool

Parking permit graphic by the Boston Globe In dense cities like Boston, few topics are as contentious as parking. Everyone has a complaint. Everyone has a personal story about driving around aimlessly trying to find a space – especially in winter when snow gobbles up many of the available spots. So some residents were understandably…

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Uncover wage theft with Department of Labor data

Wage theft happens more than you realize, and in some hidden places. Workers in fast food restaurants, big-box stores or hotels aren’t the only ones. We’ve found examples of Colorado’s teachers, doctors and even mortuary workers whom employers have illegally denied wages by skimping on overtime, meal-breaks or just refusing to pay. Rocky Mountain PBS…

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Arrest, conviction data shed light on repeat drunken drivers in Wisconsin

The I-Team created an interactive visualization showing OWIs in each county. Consistently named as the state with the highest number of binge drinkers in the nation, alcohol is tightly woven through Wisconsin’s culture. Drinking and driving, despite the many programs aimed at educating drivers about its dangers, is widespread, and Wisconsin remains the only state…

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