edweek.org has a research center (raise your hand if you knew that, please). It’s the research arm of Editorial Projects in Education, our parent company, and has a lot of incredibly talented, smart, research-y people working there, headed by the inimitable Chris Swanson. It publishes a lot of reports during the year, as supplements to regular EdWeek issues and articles. Quality Counts and Technology Counts are the center’s two major publications, familiar to most readers, along with other special reports.
This year, under Chris’ leadership, we ventured into the deep waters of graduation rates with the analysis, Diplomas Count, which generated more than a little interest. As well it should have. It’s a groundbreaking report. Part of the report included a mapping feature. This feature, á la google maps, would allow readers to drill down to district-level graduation data—the first time EdWeek has published data at that granular a level.
We were under a very tight deadline on this project. When it went live on June 22, the mapping portion (provided by a third party) which we had touted highly in all our promotional materials, was just not ready.
No problem. We posted a note on the table of contents that it would be ready in a week.
Then we said by the end of July.
Um ... that would be a no-go.
Believe me, we don’t like promising our readers things and then not delivering. I think I can go out on a limb (after being here eight years) and say that we don’t make promises lightly here at edweek.org. I can also safely say that it’s very rare that we don’t deliver on time. We’re a newspaper for pete’s sake, (ok, news outlet, for you online purists), so we get the concept of deadlines.
But sometimes...there are extenuating circumstances. We’re ambitious. We have to rely on third parties. As the saying goes...stuff happens. No one’s fault. But we could have communicated the delay better to our readers.
You are definitely going to see an advanced mapping feature; we have every intention to make it happen.
But you won’t catch me posting any firm dates until I have seen it with my own little eyes.
Meanwhile, we’ll consider this another deposit in the bank of lessons learned.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Behind the Scenes blog.