Raymond Yeagley called the Forum to order and went over the schedule for the next few days. New members were recognized. Special Thank You plaques were given out to representatives from CCSSO, ESSI, EvalSoft, Westat, Tom Szuba, and NCES.
Ray reported on progress on major goals for the previous year. The Forums visibility was enhanced through letters sent out to CCSSO, follow-up letters to individual state school officers, and articles in national publications (AASA, eSchool News, etc.). Use of the website increased by 82 percent and downloads of Forum products increased 18 percent.
Forum membership was expanded with the induction of new associate members from the Navajo Nation and SEDTA. Both these organizations were self-referred, suggesting that the Forum visibility has increased dramatically.
Introduction of new Forum members was improved through the development of a new orientation meeting, orientation booklet, and orientation PowerPoint® presentation.
Bethann Canada reported that the major goals of the strategic plan were all addressed significantly in Forum work of the past year.
The first goalto develop a comprehensive system of comparable local, state, and federal basic data elementswas addressed through major increases in Forum publications, with six released in the past year including several data handbooks, and continued work on developing student record systems.
The second goalto improve coordination, integration, and consolidation of the collection and dissemination of datawas addressed through all states participating in the online technology survey and several Forum publications relating to web development and web standards.
The third goalto promote the Forum as a widely recognized cooperative body addressing issues of education data policy, and a leader in setting data standardswas addressed through the work of all SEAs and LEAs in their states as well as through the work of Forum members participating in EIAC and continued collaboration with SEDTA, ASBO, and SIF.
The Forums work continued well beyond the strategic plan, with LEAs, SEAs, and associate members all providing their point of view to the federal government, and SEAs working extensively on cooperative system contracts.
Annette Barwick, who is retiring, was recognized for her extensive work with the Forum since its inception. Members of the completed Education Facilities Handbook Task Force were also recognized.
Raymond Yeagley introduced the keynote speaker, Margaret Heritage from the UCLA National Center for Research on Education, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESSP), who spoke about the Quality School Portfolio (QSP) which she helped develop.
QSP is a free web-based decision support system that works with other systems to help collect, analyze, and make sense of education data. QSP allows users to look at longitudinal data. Data are stored in the program as variables, and groups can be formed of different variables to allow for disaggregation. Users can develop goals based on group outcomes or background information and then track progress on achieving these goals and targets through QSP graphs and reports. QSP also allows analysis based on select indicators determined by the users themselves
There are 22 different graphic reporting options, including a digital archive of performance assessments including online grade-books, which allow users to access assessment information in many different ways. Security is also a major aspect of the QSP application. All records include multi-level password protection. There is an embedded data backup system and an SSL Encryption certificate.
QSP can be used by principals, teachers, program coordinators, counselors, superintendents, parents, and anyone involved in the education process. The application will restrict certain users from seeing certain data so, for example, parents may not see other childrens individual test scores.
QSP allows tabular presentations of education data. Margaret Heritage demonstrated some user interfaces and possible reports. The QSP user interface includes sections on goals, reports, groups, grade-books and assessments, students, and resources for more information.
QSP now has some sort of presence in almost 18 states. The program typically starts being used in districts and moves down to the classroom level as its usefulness is realized. QSP is easy to learn how to use in terms of the basic application skills necessary to make the program work. QSP is harder to learn in terms of its role as part of a larger cycle of investigation which makes education decisions possible. QSP is a tool to help improve student achievementit is a means to an end, not an end in itself, and users must interpret and act on data themselves. QSP works best in a context of collaboration with colleagues. Users must decide what data to use, what are available, and what will be useful? School and student identifiers are necessary for the program to work well.
IT people need to see the connection between applications and decisions. Users must understand what data mean and how they can be used. Users must understand what kind of questions should be asked to achieve the best results What is the purpose of the investigation? What will the investigation measure? How will we measure it? When will we measure it? Who will be assessed? How will this be interpreted? Questions are either descriptive, comparative, or correlative. Users must set realistic goals, targets, and strategies for achieving these.
Collaboration is essential! Teacher preparation should include data issues for this all to happen, as should administrator preparation. Thus, there needs to be a cultural shift for all members of the education data process.
The opening session was adjourned and members went to standing committee meetings.
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.