Click Here for Department’s Updated Web Site

By Sean Cavanagh — October 01, 2003 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Visitors tapping their way on to the Department of Education’s World Wide Web site were greeted until recently by this visual montage: a red-white-and-blue logo of the No Child Left Behind Act, a chart documenting federal spending on schools, and, at the very bottom of the page, a link to the department itself.

See Also...

View the accompanying graphic “Site Comparison.”

That all changed in September, when the department unveiled a revamped home page at the same address, www.ed.gov, which officials say makes access to agency information and research easier than ever.

They also vow that the retooled site will continue to house data and documents generated prior to the Bush administration. Research advocates and public watchdogs feared that the department might purge those materials during the Web site’s overhaul.

“The information was simply archived,” department spokesman Dan Langan said last week. “Nothing’s purged.”

As recently as last year, the department’s home page featured the No Child Left Behind logo, alongside a photo of President Bush and Secretary of Education Rod Paige, with quotes from both over a white backdrop.

That page was a sort of promotional overlay that required Web visitors looking for the agency to click on another link titled, “Visit the U.S. Department of Education website.” Some detractors also had questioned the accuracy of a chart depicting federal spending, featured on that opening page. (“If A, Then B? Showcase Web Chart Open to Question,” June 18, 2003.)

Critics complained the former site was too cluttered, department officials said. The overhaul, which cost $4 million, was aimed at making the site simpler to navigate and easier on the eyes.

“It’s a cost-effective way of reaching millions of people simultaneously,” Mr. Langan said of the site.

Visitors seeking the department’s site now reach the home page right away—a clear improvement over the old approach, several observers said.

Richard Hershman, the vice president for legislative affairs for the National Education Knowledge Industry Association, a Washington-based trade organization for research centers and labs, likened the former initial Web page to a “pop-up ad” touting the No Child Left Behind Act.

Nothing Lost?

The Web site’s new look, which went live Sept. 8, is obvious from the get-go. The home page has more sophisticated graphics, including earth-tone backgrounds and a stylized, alternating photos of Mr. Paige and a child, framed by stars. (See accompanying graphic.)

Over the past year, critics raised concerns about the department’s stated goal of overhauling the site’s use of and possibly deleting information posted during the Clinton administration. Others also worried about a department plan to overhaul the Educational Resources Information Center, or ERIC, the world’s largest and most widely used education database system, fearing cuts in services. (“No URL Left Behind? Web Scrub Raises Concerns,” Sept. 18, 2002, and “Ed. Dept. Floats Plan for Overhaul of ERIC Clearinghouses,” April 30, 2003.)

The new department site continues to offer a link to ERIC, accessible by typing that acronym into the search engine on the left side of the home page.

Felice J. Levine, the executive director of the American Educational Research Association, said her Washington-based group has been exploring ERIC and other depositories of important department data.

“We didn’t find anything missing,” she said. “But it’s only been a few weeks.”

The department made a clear effort to preserve material from past administrations, including press releases, speeches, and policy statements, Mr. Langan said—usually by adding “archive” links at the bottom of different sections of the site. Agency officials met with several organizations with concerns about the Web changes, and the department’s position on what to preserve has “evolved over the past several months,” he said.

Still, opinions varied on the accessibility of archived materials. Mr. Hershman credited department officials with listening to advice from frequent site visitors. Earlier this year, he told department officials about a link to archived reports that seemed to have vanished from the site. A few weeks later, Mr. Hershman said, the material was back up.

Still, newcomers to the site might find the new model cumbersome, he believes.

“It’s very hard on this Web site to find older material,” he said. “If you’re not looking for it, it may disappear forever.”

Related Tags:


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Law & Courts Webinar
Future of the First Amendment:Exploring Trends in High School Students’ Views of Free Speech
Learn how educators are navigating student free speech issues and addressing controversial topics like gender and race in the classroom.
Content provided by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Start Strong With Solid SEL Implementation: Success Strategies for the New School Year
Join Satchel Pulse to learn why implementing a solid SEL program at the beginning of the year will deliver maximum impact to your students.
Content provided by Satchel Pulse
Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal What Educators Need to Know About Senators' Bipartisan Deal on Guns, School Safety
In addition to gun restrictions, a tentative compromise would also fund mental health and school safety programs—but it faces hurdles.
4 min read
Protesters hold up a sign that shows the outline of a rifle struck through with a yellow line at a demonstration in support of stronger gun laws.
Protesters gather for the March For Our Lives rally in Detroit, among the demonstrations against gun violence held on the heels of recent mass shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., and Uvalde, Texas.
KT Kanazawich for Education Week
Federal Senate Negotiators Announce a Deal on Guns, Breaking Logjam
The agreement offers modest gun curbs and bolstered efforts to improve school safety and mental health programs.
5 min read
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., speaks during a rally near Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, June 10, 2022, urging Congress to pass gun legislation. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Federal Education Secretary: 'Let's Transform Our Appreciation of Teachers to Action'
Miguel Cardona shared strategies to help recruit, develop, and retain effective teachers.
5 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during the 2022 National and State Teachers of the Year event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 27, 2022.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during the 2022 National and State Teachers of the Year event in the White House on April 27.
Susan Walsh/AP
Federal Lawmakers, Education Secretary Clash Over Charter School Rules
Miguel Cardona says the administration wants to ensure charters show wide community interest before securing federal funding.
5 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during the 2022 National and State Teachers of the Year event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 27, 2022.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, is seen during a White House event on April 27. The following day, he defended the Biden administration's budget proposal on Capitol Hill.
Susan Walsh/AP