The 13 Federal statistics agencies are, in a sense, the nation’s doctors. Through collecting data, they measure the pulse of the economy, the performance of its schools, the condition of its population. Without their work, we do not know who we are, how we are doing, or where we are going.

For the nation to know itself, these agencies must be adequately funded. They are not. Want to know how AI and robotics is transforming the economy? Good luck with that.

But there is more to our collective future than collecting the right data. The data must be accessible and comprehensible and usable.

STATS for US is an ongoing project to explain the value of government statistics, how they can be used, what we risk by not collecting data, and what we can gain by designing data for democracy.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is the richest and deepest source of information on how we are doing economically—as counties, states, and as a nation.

But how do we access and use this knowledge? And does the BLS have the resources to capture the changing nature of our economy—and the jobs and salaries that it supports?

In an ongoing series of articles, we examine these challenges.

We get lots of calls from reporters wanting to understand and use data to tell better education stories, so we thought it would be helpful to create a Reporter’s Guide to Education Data. We think it might be useful for parents too!

We cover sources of data, questions you can ask, and how to interpret what you find.

We also want to hear from you: What would you like to learn from education data?

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