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NESAC Summer 2003 Meeting Notes


July 22-23, 2003
Washington, DC

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Introduction and Agenda Review
Facilities Handbook Task Force
Finance Task Force
Performance Indicators Task Force
Education Systems Handbook and Web Tool
Possible Changes to the CCD
NESAC Business: Elections and Volunteers for
   Task Order Committee
Open Forum/Sharing Concerns

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Reports from States that have Received Task Orders
    Connecticut
    Wisconsin
    South Carolina
CCSSO Education Indicators
Open Forum/Sharing Concerns

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Introduction and Agenda Review

Bill Smith, SD LEA reviewed the agenda and welcomed the members of NESAC. The members present introduced themselves by stating name, state, title, and SEA or LEA.

Facilities Handbook Task Force

Patty Murphy, UT provided an overview of the completed Facilities Information Management publication available on the NCES website. She stated that a facilities handbook had not been done since 1977; therefore the process to create a new handbook took some time. The task force drew information from the experts, which are listed under resources in the publication. Patty thanked Mary Filardo, the consultant for the Facilities publication, for her invaluable assistance and depth of knowledge. Patty also thanked the members of the task force for their help. There were no questions asked.

Finance Task Force

Linda Champion, FL talked about the final draft of the Financial Accounting for State and Local School Systems, 2003 edition. She stated that the draft has gone through the review and adjudication process and that there is only one technical review remaining before the release of the publication. Linda is hopeful that Financial Accounting will be released in final form, available on the web by the end of August and in bound copies shortly after. She also mentioned that like the facilities publication, the financial publication has not been updated for years, specifically since 1990. In addition, Linda discussed the current task force work that will create a report containing the basic data elements for finance. There were no questions asked.

Performance Indicators Task Force

Steve King, WY began by stating that no one ever tackled the issue of indicators before in the forum. He thanked Tom Szuba for his work as the consultant. Steve then presented a power point covering the task force objectives of establishing recommended practices and detailed instructions for K-12 indicators, including definitions, calculations, and reporting of indicators. The audience of the Guide to Education Performance Indicators includes people who create indicators and develop reports cards as well as people who interpret indicators and compare results. Steve then covered an outline of the in-process publication. In his overview, Steve mentioned that the approach of the document is to grab a set of core performance indicators and supporting indicators, rather than try to cover all indicators. He stated that the working group is figuring out policy questions and building indicators around them. He based this method around the need for a resource to lead LEAs and SEAs to the indicators and answers to the policy questions they have. Steve also emphasized the other concepts of balancing validity and reliability of the data with the timeliness of getting data out, and the cost of the burden.

Steve presented the timeline for the Performance Indicators project. In July 2003 the group finalized the plan for the front materials and content areas. In November 2003 the first complete draft will be reviewed. A field test and focus group review will be conducted in January 2004. In March/April 2004 there will be a request of Forum review and approval and hopefully by July 2004 the final publication will be available.

Randy Raphael, UT asked a question concerning indicator systems and the interrelatedness of indicators using the example of successful lives. Steve answered by stating that his group has looked at systems, but will have more conversation on the topic to make sure indicators are interrelated.

Education Systems Handbook and Web Tool

Deborah Newby, CCSSO explained the status of the Education Systems Handbook (School, LEA, IEU and SEA). Deborah stated the handbook was through adjudication and is currently in the process of final changes and research. The handbook will not be available in print; it will be available only online in searchable database and PDF formats. Deborah asked the members how they preferred to have the PDF files sized on the website. Randy Raphael said he would like to be able to download the entire document then print the pages he needed. Randy’s suggestion was seconded by another member. Deborah appreciated the input. Deborah also added that the search tools are being refined and that she is looking for input. The handbook will be reviewed and updated annually.

Beth Young, NCES explained that the web-based format of the handbook will help get rid of duplicate information and definitions. She reminded the NESAC members that just because a publication will not be published in print, does not mean that the publication loses use and meaning. Members can still print the PDF. In August 2003 the handbook will be released in PDF and the database will follow after it is reviewed. Everything in the database will be reviewed annually. Beth added that the upcoming focus areas will include early childhood education, transportation, and food service. Beth stated the project is currently between contracts and in the bidding process. Beth extended an invitation to NESAC members to volunteer to be a part of committees/working groups on the three focus areas to support the contractor. Beth explained that the volunteers would receive an email of what they would be working on, participate in about one meeting per year, and participate in the review process. Bill Smith encouraged participation in the core areas since they could turn into task forces in the future. [Names were taken at the end of the session]

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Possible Changes to the CCD

John Sietsema, NCES began his power point presentation “CCD Survey Planning: Status of Proposed Modifications for Cycle Beginning 2004-05” by stating that CCD approval is running out so needs to be re-approved by OMB. He and his colleagues have been taking user and respondent feedback on CCD by canvassing. The survey items in question during the canvass included the new racial/ethnic categories, the racial/ethnic counts of teachers, replacing type codes with flags, year round school flag, summer school counts, email addresses, and previous year data for closed schools. The procedures in question included the use of ACE for GED counts, adding county to school records, expanding status codes, in/out locale code option, and strict adherence to NCES data standards on missing PY data. Patty High, OK raised a concern regarding increased confusion with the addition of county to school records. John agreed that it will be confusing, but said the states will benefit if they give the correct address for schools. John emphasizes the importance of informing NCES of the status of a school so that errors are not created when no data is gathered from a school that is not open yet.

The results of the coordinator canvas included a strong support for teacher data and voc/tech/career flags, a strong negative reaction to year-round flag, summer school counts, and email addresses, and a mixed reaction to GED plan and PY data for closed schools. John ended with a discussion of the new racial/ethnic codes. He stated that most states are still using the old codes until they hear the final definitions from NCES and the OMB. Randy Raphael asked when the states will have the new racial/ethnic categories. Beth Young stated that there will be OMB approval at some point but she is not sure exactly when. She suggested that forum members look at the OMB packet for feedback. Another question was raised concerning the time needed to make the changes to the categories. Beth answered there may not be much time to implement the changes, but there may be a period when some states are using the new categories, while other states are using the old categories. A question was raised concerning the allocation of grants and the justification for data collection codes. Beth and John answered that the larger grants are posted on the NCES website. Myrna Holgate, ID commented on the lack of codes in CCD for virtual schools. Myrna also had a concern about children moving across state borders and the methods of counting them.

NESAC Business: Elections and Volunteers for Task Order Committee

Beth Young began the election process by announcing that the chair and vice-chair positions were both open. Brad James, VT nominated Bill Smith, SD for chair. Matt Cohen, OH seconded. There were no other nominations. Judy Thompson, CT nominated Brad James, VT for vice-chair. Patty High, OK seconded. There were no other nominations. There was a unanimous vote for the slate.

Volunteers were taken for the task order committee after Judy Thompson gave a brief overview of the experience. Oren Christmas, MI and David Burnett, SC volunteered.

Open Forum/Sharing Concerns

Patty High raised a concern about the wording in the application for task orders. She stated that it is confusing since the wording turns what appears to be an expression of interest into an actual application. She also added that the August 15 deadline to get applications in is too early, especially for the new members. Bill Smith asked Patty for a reasonable deadline. Patty answered mid to late September would be reasonable. Bill and Beth said they would take the issue to the steering committee.

Randy Raphael asked the status of the incorporation of teacher salary data into CCD, as was discussed in the Forum conference in Utah. Beth said that it is in the fiscal CCD and Frank Johnson knows the details.

Beth Young began a discussion on the dropout rate definition. She asked the members what they thought of providing best practice for cohort dropout and completion number and rate definitions. Wesley Bruce, IN stated that best practices would be useful by using a dropout example from Indiana. Beth added that the goal is to provide guidance and best practices for leaver codes. Barbara made suggestions based on her site visits, which included connecting systems so kids can be found across districts instead of being counted as dropouts. Randy added the need for a good definition of cohort to produce good numbers. Bill suggested a 10-12 page document be put together on the subject by a NESAC working group on dropouts. Volunteers for the working group were taken.

Patty High raised the issue of lack of guidance on the financial end. More specifically, schools are transferring funds and carrying over unused funds. Bill stated he would raise the issue at the steering committee.

Bill closed the day with a reminder that if interested in working on the dropout working group or the issues of early childhood education, transportation, and food service to contact Beth Young after the meeting or by email.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Reports from States that have Received Task Orders

Connecticut
Judith Thompson presented the status of the public school information system project in Connecticut, mandated by CT legislation in 2000. Judy stated the first data collection in 2002 was successful. The data was collected in October 2002, more data and any new student data was collected in January, rollover student data was collected in June, and in August labels were generated and sent to the schools. The proposed system is to include student discipline offense data, but this is difficult due to the methods of collection. NCLB also required changes in data such as persistently dangerous schools. The state contract is in process. Paring down data created a linkage to the student database. Once there is a contract the system will be linked to the student database. Language data was collected on five levels, but the project is checking with the vendors to makes sure the reporting is correct. Judy feels that her team will be ready in the fall to bring the system to LEAs. There were no questions.

Wisconsin
Christine Selk began by stating that Wisconsin is one of the last states to move to an individual data record system. WI asked for a task order to help the state get the project started so that it could fulfill NCLB requirements. WI had strong resistance to an individual record system because of its privacy tradition. Christine stated a contractor was hired who met internally and externally with groups to figure out the best system. The individual record system will have encrypted student IDs and data. With the remaining funds, meetings have been set up with the districts having trouble. The contractor is also checking NCLB compliance. The RFP was released from the business office last week, so the process has been slow. Dave Uhlig, VA LEA asked how WI is ensuring security. Christine stated they are using a web-based system with both batch and individual processing and an extra layer of value added data with password protection. Dave also asked what the turnaround time was for a student identification number. Christine stated the time will be immediate with the web and overnight for new kindergarten students.

South Carolina
David Burnett of South Carolina started by explaining the direction of the task order shifted to NCLB compliance. South Carolina needed an efficient way to collect needed data from school districts. The state already had student information systems reporting, but needed to improve the method of collecting information from the districts that have different data formats. David discussed two main problems, the first being an extraction system. The districts will be able to send information to the state with four mouse clicks and retain a copy of what information was sent to the state. The second problem was that no information was collected on paraprofessionals and what teachers are teaching. Both are being added by modifying the student information system. There were no questions.

CCSSO Education Indicators

Andra Williams and Abby Potts shared a power presentation to the group titled “CCSSO Education Indicators, Accountability Systems.” Andra discussed state education indicators with a focus on Title I. She recommended visiting the website http://www.ccsso.org/. Indicators for the details. The 2002-03 data will be available in the next year. Abby discussed state education systems for use with NAEP. She recommended visiting http://www.ccsso.org/naepprofiles/introduction.cfm for the details. The website will have a new design by the end of August/early September with a search function, detailed information within one state, and fifty state tables for an across the nation look at specific indicators. She also discussed profiles of approved accountability systems available at http://www.ccsso.org/Federal_Programs/nclb/1759.cfm. States will be able to check the data and make changes to the data posted by CCSSO on the password protected website. SEAs can get the password from Abby. There were no questions.

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Open Forum/Sharing Concerns

Bill Smith updated the group on the August 15th deadline issue raised by Patty High on Tuesday. The steering committee stated they would not change the deadline but would be willing to give extensions on a case-by-case basis. Bill then reminded the group about the opportunity to participate in the dropout working group and the food service, transportation, and early childhood education groups. He opened the floor for questions and comments.

Patty High suggested putting a working group together to look at the finance handbook with the staff data handbook. She stated there is not a good fit between the two, even though some things are similar. Bill Smith said he would take the issue to the steering committee and NCES staff.

Patty High brought up the difficulty in defining “highly qualified teacher” under NCLB. She suggested someone in the forum take a look at what states are doing with the definition. Bill suggested a roundtable at the February 2004 conference. Derek asked if there is a possibility of starting a roundtable discussion before the next conference. Bill stated that the list serve that Westat maintains would be a start. Bill said he would have Beth Young follow up with an email about the list serve to NESAC members. Deborah Newby stated that CCSSO is putting together a brain trust in September to look at the definition of “highly qualified teacher.” Bill added there are sessions in the data conference concerning the definition.

Patty High asked Bill Smith to explain how his district is dealing with the “highly qualified teacher” definition from an LEA perspective. Bill stated Souix Falls has tracked teacher qualification for years but is one year behind NCLB. In his distict there is a “parent view” system where the parents can pull up and look at report cards, attendence, etc. There was agreement between representatives of Oklahoma, Kansas, and South Dakota that rural districts have more problems.

Bill Smith thanks all the NESAC participants.

Meeting adjourned.



 Meeting Notes

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Publications of the National Forum on Education Statistics do not undergo the formal review required for products of the National Center for Education Statistics. The information and opinions published here are the product of the National Forum on Education Statistics and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the U.S. Department of Education or the National Center for Education Statistics.


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