Mass EduData, an education-focused civic hacking challenge launches tonight

(Image via Shutterstock)
(Image via Shutterstock)

The Mass EduData Challenge, a program that is trying to mine the state’s trove of educational data to find new insights that could impact Massachusetts’ education policy, is officially launching this evening at Hack/Reduce in Cambridge.

The six week challenge will take existing education-based data sets, provided by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and open it up to teams who analyze the data and create projects that could range from finding the relationship between educational funding and student performance, test score trends, or the predictability of other educational outcomes. Some of the interesting data sets that will be open for the teams to use include teacher’s salaries, staffing data by race/ethnicity and gender, student discipline, per student expenditures, MCAS results, and many more.

Pat Larkin, Director of the Innovation Institute at MassTech, said of the event, “This evening is going to about the dialogue around the challenges, needs, and insights that the [DESE] could benefit from through an analysis of these data sets.”

“I expect some real policy insights from the disparate sources of info and data,” Larkin added. He believes that the teams taking part in the Mass EduData Challenge can demonstrate the benefits that can be derived from the data that isn’t being accessed but that really should be.

The EduData Challenge is part of the state’s “Big Data Initiative,” which Governor Deval Patrick announced in May of 2012 to “leverage and expand the Commonwealth’s position as a global leader in the rapidly growing big data sector.” The EduData Challenge is also the result of a partnership of the DESE, the office of the Government Innovation Officer of Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. Tonight’s event also serves as the kickoff of a string of civic hacking initiatives that also includes Code for Boston’s Hack the Hub and the National Day of Civic Hacking

“Civic hacking can help drive better outcomes across government,” Larkin said. “Liberating public data will do as much as the state can to establish a global leadership in the big data sector.”

Dennis Keohane was a Senior Staff Writer for BetaBoston.
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