Federal

Ed. Department to Save Files Shorn From Web Site

By Michelle R. Davis — October 09, 2002 3 min read

The Department of Education says it will archive any material removed from its Web site during an ongoing redesign, possibly through an interactive database accessible through the Internet.

John P. Bailey, the department’s director of educational technology, said last week the department was weighing several options for archiving data from the ed.gov site—including the interactive database as well as a CD-ROM that contains all the information currently on the Web site—and making it available to the public.

The department is in the beginning stages of an overhaul of the site that officials say will make it easier to use and to update information there. As part of the overhaul, the department will remove thousands of files, many outdated and no longer accessible from the site’s home page. (“No URL Left Behind? Web Scrub Raises Concerns,” Sept. 18, 2002.)

A May 31 memo outlining what data would be culled from the site said information would be retained if it was needed for legal, policy, or historical reasons or supported Bush administration initiatives, especially the “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001, the president’s key education legislation.

One of the main “challenges” for the existing Web site, according to the memo, is that content “does not reflect the priorities, philosophies, or goals of the present administration.”

Some watchdog groups, librarians, and educators say they have concerns about the redesign and what material will be scrapped. Both the American Library Association and the Education Writers Association, for example, are writing letters of concern to the department about the upcoming changes.

But Mr. Bailey said the agency had no intention of removing important, relevant information. The process is still in the early stages and material has not yet been deleted.

Assistant secretaries in charge of various offices in the department will review lists of files on the Web site and draw up shorter lists of material to be scrapped. Then an eight-person “content review board,” made up of senior Bush administration staff members, will go over the list to make sure files that need to stay on the site are not deleted, Mr. Bailey said.

“The whole goal is not to make this into a political tool, but make sure the most current relevant information is given to the [Web site] visitors,” Mr. Bailey said.

Though a CD-ROM with information removed from the Web site could be available to the public, it would be “pretty inaccessible,” he said. So Mr. Bailey said the department was investigating whether its Web team, in conjunction with the site redesign, should build in some archiving options like a searchable database. Mr. Bailey did not know what the cost of such a venture might be.

“Files will not be deleted,” he said. “They will simply be archived in such a way so as to make them available and accessible.”

But Patrice McDermott, an assistant director of government relations at the American Library Association’s Washington office, said she had “multiple concerns” about the Web site overhaul.

“We think there should be stakeholder- community involvement both in the development of criteria and the implementation of it,” she said. “We don’t think these sorts of removals of information should be made on the part of their agency and solely through their internal deliberations. There’s a lot at stake here.”

The Education Department memo makes it clear that officials there understand that information posted on the Web site is covered by the Federal Records Act. But Ms. McDermott said most agencies do not take “snapshots” of their sites periodically and record them, as recommended in pending federal guidelines.

Ms. McDermott said that an online archiving system would be helpful, but that a CD-ROM would not, especially if it is not indexed. “There would be no way of easily retrieving information,” she said.

The goal, said Mr. Bailey, is to make sure information is current and available. For example, he said, a report on E-rate usage done by Duncan D. Chaplin, a senior research methodologist at the Urban Institute, was on the ed.gov Web site, though Mr. Chaplin said that he had been told it would not appear there.

However, a link to the report cited by Mr. Bailey last month produced only an error message. When notified of the disconnect, the department updated the link Oct. 2 to successfully connect to the full report on the Web site. Later, Mr. Bailey also provided another link to the report that did work correctly.

“Our intention with this entire effort is to make sure people can find the information they need,” Mr. Bailey said.

Related Tags:

Events

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.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy to Advance Educational Equity
Schools are welcoming students back into buildings for full-time in-person instruction in a few short weeks and now is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and systems to build
Content provided by PowerMyLearning
Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.

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 Biden Calls on Schools to Host COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics for Kids 12 and Up
The president is focusing on vaccinating children ages 12 and older as concerns grow about the Delta variant and its impact on schools.
2 min read
President Joe Biden speaks in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Wednesday, June 2, 2021, in Washington.
President Joe Biden speaks in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus on June 2.
Evan Vucci/AP
Federal How Political Backlash to Critical Race Theory Reached School Reopening Guidance
A lawmaker wants Miguel Cardona to repudiate the Abolitionist Teaching Network after federal COVID-19 documents referenced the group's work.
6 min read
Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., is seen at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 9, 2021 in Washington.
Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., is seen at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 9, 2021 in Washington.<br/>
Graeme Sloan/SIPA USA via AP
Federal Biden Team: Schools Can Go Beyond Trump Rules in Response to Alleged Sexual Misconduct
The Education Department's guidance, released July 20, states that Title IX rules from 2020 lay out "minimum steps" for educators.
3 min read
Symbols of gender.
iStock/Getty
Federal Fact Check: After Furor Over 1619 Project, Feds Adjust History and Civics Grant Plans
A previously obscure history and civics program has weathered a political storm, but what exactly has changed?
4 min read
Education secretary nominee Miguel Cardona speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on his nomination on Feb. 3, 2021, in Washington.
Education secretary nominee Miguel Cardona speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on his nomination on Feb. 3, 2021, in Washington.
Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times via AP