Transparency Central gets an upgrade

See all posts
About eight months ago, we launched a new feature on our website connected with our National Review of Teacher Preparation: Transparency Central. Based on the feedback we've been getting, it's been a big hit.

Today we're launching a major update to Transparency Central as well as announcing some good news.

We have now finished sending out requests for data to all of the public institutions preparing teachers in every state. Where necessary, we have followed up those requests with open records requests (also known as "sunshine requests"), the legal means for obtaining data from public entities that do not voluntarily turn over public documents.

The updated Transparency Central identifies institutions that have voluntarily provided us with documents; those that have begun to cooperate after receiving a legal open records request; those that are charging extravagant sums to pull all the data together; and those that are claiming the data we're asking for is exempt from open records laws. When we say we have an obligation to be open about our process for conducting the National Review, we really mean it.

There is an organized effort underway for institutions to charge exorbitant fees to fulfill our open records requests, making it as expensive as possible to conduct the review. Based on information we've received from institutions that have already provided data, we estimate that it should take no more than 20 hours to pull together the documents we need, a task that can be handled almost entirely by clerical staff. But institutional charges to us are currently averaging the equivalent of $90 an hour. Check out our list of Top Ten Most Secretive Institutions: the University of Hawaii at Manoa sits at the top, charging us more than $28,000 to produce the data (more than $1,400 per hour).

Despite this opposition, most institutions are cooperating. Two-thirds of the institutions that have responded to our data requests have signaled that they will work with us. And almost 150 of these institutions are providing us with the documents we need free of charge.

Please visit the updated Transparency Central, where you will see first-hand the progress we are making in collecting data for our review. We hope institutions will join us in committing to transparency and, more importantly, to improving the preparation of our nation's teachers.

Arthur McKee