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Summer Forum 2004 Meeting Notes


National Forum on Education Statistics
July 27-28, 2004
Washington, DC

Opening Session Summary
Closing Session Summary
Steering Committee Meeting Summary
PPI Meeting Summary
NESAC Meeting Summary
TECH Meeting Summary


Opening Session Summary
Tuesday July 27, 2004

Opening and Welcome

Bethann Canada, VA, Forum Chair, called the Forum to order and reviewed the agenda.

  • New members were recognized.
  • Lee Hoffman was introduced as the Project Officer for the Forum at National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
    • In her update on the Cooperative Systems, she pointed out that the Forum has 27 new SEA/LEAs attending this conference.
    • She stressed that new members are critical in taking the leadership roles for different working groups and publications.

Panel Discussion: National Data Initiatives

Gerald Hottinger, PA, moderated a panel discussion on four National Data Initiatives.

  • Dr. Hugh Walkup, the Director of Strategic Accountability Services in the U.S. Department of Education, provided an update on the progress of Performance Based Data Management Initiative (PBDMI). PBDMI will be available for public review in fall 2004.
  • Tom Lindsley, Director of the National Center for Educational Accountability in Washington, DC, provided an update on the progress on the School Information Partnership (SIP).
    • The SIP website will display school and district data from existing data files (e.g., PBDMI, State Report Card) required to be publicly reported under NCLB.
    • As of July, 41 states have provided their data for the website; all states, Puerto Rico, and District of Columbia are scheduled to have all their data transmitted by September 2004.
  • Dr. Larry Fruth II, Executive Director of the Schools Interoperability Framework, provided an update on the progress of SIF.
    • Dr. Fruth stressed that SIF is an enabling initiative in order for states to share ideas about how to make different data-collection software systems talk to each other in a vendor-neutral environment.
    • SIF has been demanded/suggested in more than a dozen current or planned state RFP’s
    • SIF currently has 32 certified applications
    • SIF has expanded from student/administrative data into curriculum, content and other industry “verticals” and has increased mechanisms for “end user input” and direction
    • SIF will continue to focus on best practices documentation and sharing.
  • Richard Kesner, President and Chief Operating Officer of the CELT Corporation, provided an update on the progress of Decision Support Architecture Consortium.
    • Phase 1 ends in calendar 2004 and will include at least 25 SEAs.
    • Seventeen States are currently enrolled.
    • Phase 2 work has already begun in several states. The details of ongoing membership are to be finalized this summer.

The presentations can be downloaded as zipped files:*

Performance-Based Data Management Initiative (145 KB)
PBDMI–EDEN Survey Tool# (82 KB)
School Information Partnership (2.3 MB)
Schools Interoperability Framework (99 KB)
Decision Support Architecture Consortium (1.5 MB)

* —For information on unzipping files
# —This presentation was given later in the conference.

Questions from the floor:

  • Some of the small states expressed concern about how PBDMI, SIP, and DESAC will handle reporting from small districts where smaller numbers of students might make individuals easily identifiable.
    • Kesner and Walkup responded that their systems will address confidentiality and appropriate use.
  • Many of the SEAs are afraid that these new systems will require them to send multiple files to multiple systems.
    • They asked when they will be able to send just one file format.
    • Walkup responded that PBDMI will only request one file by next spring.
    • Lindsley said that SIP utilizes the existing data files that PBDMI, CCD, etc, already have.
  • Some states had concerns about universal data storage and mapping.
    • States are concerned that vendor developers are not addressing universal agents for use with SIF-compliant RFP. If addressed appropriately, it will allow LEAs to “program” through this agent without developing zone integrator.

Adjourn

The opening session was adjourned and members went to standing committee meetings.

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Closing Session Summary
Wednesday July 28, 2004

Standing Committee Progress Reports

Virtual/Distance Education Task Force

Derrick Lindsay, MI, provided an update on the Virtual Education/Distance Learning Task Force.

  • The main product will be a crosswalk between the comparable data elements between “regular” and “distance learning” worlds for CCD, PBDMI, NCLB, and AYP.

Exit Codes Task Force

Wes Bruce, IN, provided an update of the Exit Codes Task Force.

  • Task force discussion focused on the requirements for graduation rates and how to follow students.
  • The group has collected contacts with 48 states. States have anywhere between 3 and 57 exit codes; there are 331 total codes.
  • The task force will crosswalk the states’ codes to 6 codes.
  • The task force wants to produce an Access database.

Education Performance Indicators Task Force

Steven King, WY, reported that the task force is almost done.

  • The draft of the report will be on the website in September.
  • The document will be done in October and given to NCES them.
  • They hope to have the document in print form by December.

Basic Finance Data Elements Task Force

Linda Champion, FL, discussed the two documents her group is undertaking.

  • The accounting handbook was made public in December 2003. It is outlined in the CCD handbook.
  • The section of financial performance indicators will be presented at Winter Forum 2005.

2003-2004 Recognition

Bethann Canada recognized and gave certificates of appreciation to the members who help produce and support the Forum’s work.

  • She gave certificates of appreciation to the members of the Finance Task Force and Student Privacy Task Force.
  • She also recognized the work of the support staff at NCES, ESSI, Westat and Tom Szuba.
  • She asked members who sit on Task Forces to stand up and be recognized.
  • She asked people who publicize the Forum to stand up and be recognized.
  • She asked people who use Forum publications to stand up and be recognized.
  • Of the new Forum members who completed the passport correctly, Lee Rabbitt, RI, and Bonnie Wilkerson, IL, were the winners of the drawing.
  • A proposed slate of new officers was forwarded to the floor by the steering committee.
    • Blair Loudat, OR, will be Forum Chair; Bill Smith, SD, will be Forum Vice-chair.
    • Brad James, VT, will be the NESAC Chair; David Uhlig, VI, will be the NESAC Vice-chair
    • Nancy Resch, NJ, will be the PPI Chair; Susan VanGordon, OH, PPI will be the Vice-chair
    • Derrick Lindsey, MI, will be the TD&C Chair; Bertha Doar, Mo, will be the TD&C Vice-chair.
  • There were no nominations from the floor.
  • The new officers were elected unanimously.

Closing

Blair Loudat, the new Forum Chair, outlined three goals for the upcoming year.

  • Dissemination of the Forum products
  • Increased participation of members in the Forum
  • A focus on technology in the following areas:
    • Virtual education
    • System islands, or stovepipes

Adjourn

The Summer 2004 Forum Meeting was adjourned.

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Steering Committee Meeting Summary

Monday, July 26, 2004

Welcome and Introductions

Forum Chair Bethann Canada welcomed the group to the meeting and the Summer 2004 Forum Meeting.

New Member Orientation

Over 25 new members attended the Summer 2004 Forum Meeting and an 8:00 am Forum orientation session on Tuesday morning.

  • Forum Vice-Chair Blair Loudat reviewed responsibilities for the orientation session with standing committee members who had speaking roles during the session.
  • Everyone was reminded to avoid acronyms (e.g., NESAC) and jargon (e.g., "The Handbooks") during the orientation session and standing committee meetings.
  • A "Passport to the Forum" was distributed to new members during the orientation. Blair Loudat explained the activity. New members completed the questions and submitted their passports. Ghedam Bairu and Nancy Resch "graded" the submissions. A drawing was held for those new members with the most correct answers. The winners received prizes at the closing session.
  • There was a second orientation session on Tuesday afternoon (4:15 – 5:15). New LEA representatives heard about meeting logistics and reimbursement from the Susan Rittenhouse and Erin Dahlberg (Westat). New SEA representatives learned about cooperative system contracts from LaShawn Pettaway, Ghedam Bairu, and Mary McCrory (NCES).

Standing Committee Plans

Standing Committee Chairs shared overviews of their agendas for the meetings (Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning).

Changes to the NCES Role in Forum Publications

Lee Hoffman explained that NCES logo and boilerplate would no longer appear on Forum publications.

  • Lee believed that the reason for this had nothing to do with the quality or popularity of the Forum publications (both of which are high). Rather, it had to do with the nature of Forum publications. After all, Forum publications are very different (i.e., best practice) than other NCES publications (i.e., statistical reports). This difference means that it is awkward to apply NCES adjudication standards to Forum publications—and the fact the Forum publications cannot be adjudicated as such, means that NCES feels that it should not include its logo and boilerplate as it does with adjudicated publications. Lee felt that this change was not a statement from NCES about its relationship with the Forum.
  • The Steering Committee understood and appreciated Lee's explanation of the NCES decision, but asked that the topic be broached with the NCES Commissioner during his visit to the Steering Committee at the Wednesday lunch meeting. The Steering Committee also felt that this news should be announced to the complete Forum at the Tuesday opening session and that standing committees should reserve time to discuss the topic with members as necessary to thoroughly deal with the issue.

NCES Fellows Program

It was announced that the next NCES Fellows Program was scheduled for the week of November 1-5, 2004. Standing committee Chairs were asked to remind members of this event.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Slate of New Officers

The following slate of new officers for the 2004-05 year was received from the standing committees (and later elected by the full Forum at the closing session).

Forum Chair: Blair Loudat, North Clackamas Schools (OR)
Forum Vice-Chair: Bill Smith, Sioux Falls School District (SD)
NESAC Chair: Brad James, Vermont Department of Education
NESAC Vice-Chair: David Uhlig, Charlottesville City Public Schools (VA)
PPI Chair: Nancy Resch, New Jersey Department of Education
PPI Vice-Chair: Susan VanGorden, Lakota Local School District (OH)
TECH Chair: Derrick Lindsay, Mississippi Department of Education
TECH Vice-Chair: Bertha Doar, Rockwood School District (MO)

Joint PPI/NESAC DIRWG Session

NESAC Chair Bill Smith and PPI Chair Jerry Hottinger reported that NESAC and PPI heard a presentation from Vickie Schray, who chairs the U.S. Department of Education's Data Information Review Working Group (DIRWIG).

  • DIRWIG was created as part of an initiative to stop duplicating information collections among ED's principal offices. It focuses on issues such as the development of a data dictionary, standard data architecture, and cell size conventions.
  • NESAC and PPI members were very impressed by the concept and approach presented.
  • Ms. Schray invited the Forum to play a role in helping the Department of Education as it continues with this initiative. The Steering Committee agreed that this was a critical service that the Forum could offer. Bill Smith agreed to follow up with Ms. Schray about specific ways (e.g., input and review) in which the Forum could be of assistance. Nancy Resch, Bethann Canada, Deborah Newby, and Lee Hoffman volunteered to contribute to this effort.

Member Recognition Letters

The Forum sent letters to each chief state school officer to recognize the efforts of the SEA representatives. Each letter was personalized by referencing the task force membership, committee membership, leadership positions, etc., held by the representative during the 2003-04 year.

  • Feedback from SEA representatives was very positive. They appreciated the recognition and noted that it also reminded the chief state school officers about the important work conducted by the Forum.
  • It was agreed that a similar letter should be written for new members. It should describe the potential benefits of Forum membership to education agencies.
  • Andy Rogers shared a graphic that showed that the number of users sessions on the Forum website increased dramatically in the days following the mailing… suggesting that this type of activity might also serve as an outreach effort for the Forum.

The Forum Outreach CD

The Forum hopes to have a CD of its publications and web links developed to help with outreach efforts. Ghedam Bairu reported that this effort would need to be justified prior to NCES expending resources on the CDs. She said she would work with Andy Rogers to facilitate this task.

Navajo Nation

Ghedam Bairu agreed to send a letter to the Navajo Nation to inquire about the status of its membership.

The SEA Online Technology Survey

The Steering Committee recommended that the SEA Online Survey continue to be maintained. Bethann Canada and Blair Loudat will help Andy Rogers update the content. They are strongly considering the topic of virtual education as one future strand of questions

TD&C becomes Technology (TECH)

The standing committee formerly known as Technology, Dissemination, and Communications (TD&C) has agreed that it should focus its efforts on technology and allow the Steering Committee to handle Forum dissemination and communication. The name of the standing committee will now be "Technology (TECH)."

New Task Forces

TD&C and PPI have approved the formation of a Virtual/Distance Education Task Force to be co-chaired by Blair Loudat and Derrick Lindsay. The task force will seek to align and/or modify "traditional" data elements to better reflect the reporting and management needs of a virtual education learning environment. The project will be a collaborative effort between the Forum and the State Education Technology Directors Association (SETDA).

Wednesday, July 27, 2004

Welcome and Introductions

Blair Loudat, the 2004-05 Forum Chair, welcomed outgoing 2003-04 Forum officers, incoming 2004-05 Forum officers (see above), NCES Associate Commissioner Jeff Owings, and new NCES Commissioner Robert Lerner.

Committee Reports

NCES Commissioner Robert Lerner

NCES Commissioner Robert Lerner shared comments about his vision for the NCES/Forum relationship. Dr. Lerner reported that NCES has become a federal scientific agency that deals with data and research. Forum work supports these mandates, but the Forum, itself, focuses on best practices and the collaborative federal-state-local data partnership. This is a critical role and is very much valued. However, the nature of Forum products is very different than most NCES products. Thus, it is not appropriate for Forum products to undergo formal NCES adjudication—but this realization also means that it is not appropriate for Forum products to carry the formal NCES logo as adjudicated products do. Dr. Lerner stressed that this decision should not be construed as an effort by NCES to distance itself from the Forum. Forum work is critical and the federal-state-local relationship demonstrated by Forum work is highly valued. Thus, the Forum can still say that "NCES sponsors this work," etc. in its new products.

Closing

Blair Loudat, the 2004-05 Forum Chair, closed the session and reminded members that the Steering Committee would communicate via telephone conferences and email before reconvening at the Winter 2005 Forum Meeting in New Orleans on February 21-23, 2005.

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PPI Meeting Summary

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Call to Order

Committee chair Jerry Hottinger called the meeting to order, and reviewed PPI's purpose, its role in the Forum, and its responsibilities. Members introduced themselves.

Nominations

Jerry Hottinger began the election process by announcing that the chair and vice-chair positions were both open.

  • Jerry Hottinger nominated Nancy Resch (New Jersey DOE) as chair. Dennis Powell seconded. There were no other nominations and this was approved unanimously by voice vote.
  • Ron Danforth nominated Susan VanGorden (Lakota Local School District, Ohio) for vice-chair. Bob Beecham seconded. There were no other nominations and this was also approved unanimously by voice vote.

Free and Reduced Lunch Update

Barbara Semper, U.S. Department of Agriculture, described the Free and Reduced Lunch Program/The National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

  • The legislation reauthorizing this program ( Public Law 108-265, the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004) made a number of changes which will go into effect over the next few years. An immediate change is the extension of the program to homeless and migrant children.
  • While acknowledging the importance of free/reduced price lunch data, Barbara noted that the purpose of the program is to feed children, not primarily to collect data for the education community.
  • The National School Lunch Act permits limited disclosure of children's eligibility status for administration or enforcement of federal or state education programs and certain other programs. However, unauthorized disclosure or misuse of children's eligibility status is subject to both criminal and civil penalties (fine of up to $1000 and/or imprisonment of up to 1 year).
  • Several states expressed a desire to streamline the application.

Data Information Review Working Group (DIRWG)

Vickie Schray explained the work of the Data Information Review Working Group. DIRWG is "a central advisory body, composed of policy and technical staff from ED program offices (with the cooperation of OMB) to discuss, review and analyze Departmental data and information collections with the purpose of better coordinating and integrating these activities." DIRWG's pilot project work plan proposes to target three issues:

  • data dictionary
  • data architecture
  • small cell size suppression/masking

Request to Form Virtual/Distance Education Task Force

Blair Loudat presented a request to approve the formation of the Virtual/Distance Education Task Force, based on the work of the Virtual Education Work Group.

  • The work group agreed to develop a matrix to show how traditional data elements (e.g., hours in classroom) can be modified for reporting in a virtual education environment.
  • The group will be working with four members of SETDA.
  • The products will include a web page, compact disc, and booklet.
  • Fall 2005 is the target completion date.
  • FERPA/privacy issues will be addressed.
  • A motion to approve the formation of the task force was approved unanimously by voice vote.

Student Privacy Task Force Report

Dennis Powell, chair of the Student Privacy Task Force, reported that that task force had completed its work with the March publication of the Forum Guide to Protecting the Privacy of Student Information. This handbook is already being widely distributed, and members are encouraged to do whatever they can to ensure that this very needed information is disseminated to appropriate LEA and SEA staff.

Logo on Forum Publications

Ghedam Bairu explained to the standing committee that the NCES logo will no longer appear on the covers of Forum publications. NCES has decided to reserve the use of its logo for the covers of publications that are statistical by nature and that undergo its formal adjudication process.

  • Ghedam also explained that publications will receive a different order number (NFES--#####) and not NCES publications (NCES-####).
  • The consensus of the members was expressed in a motion, approved unanimously, affirming the importance of the Forum's relationship with NCES and resolving to work with NCES to explore how best to denote that relationship for Forum publications. Developing an appropriate adjudication process for Forum publications may also be explored.

FERPA Update

Ellen Campbell from the Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) provided an update on The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act ( FERPA). FERPA applies to schools that receive funds under any program administered by the USED Secretary of Education. Ellen stressed that FERPA is written, primarily, to LEAs, and protects the individual student information received from schools.

  • FPCO letters to states about specific cases are posted at http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html. Two of these relate to requests from government health agencies for individual student information: Congress has not authorized this "trumping" of FERPA in non-emergency situations.
  • The two questions that PPI formally sent to FPCO director LeRoy Rooker following the February meeting are under review by that office.
  • Spurred by PBDMI, USED is developing guidelines that will "trickle down" (that is, these will be helpful standards for the states and LEAs).
  • There is no research exception in FERPA. There is a need for firm guidance about this. 99.31(a)(6), which allows disclosure to organizations for studies for or on behalf of the school, has been misinterpreted by researchers requesting student information for their own studies.
  • Examples of specific issues are needed. Send these to the PPI chair, who will coordinate and send to Ellen.

Progress Reports on 2003-04 Special Task Awards

David Larson reported on the status of North Dakota's award entitled "Electronic Data Collections Phase II." ND is using existing data to prepopulate reports. A review/approval process and mapping of data has enabled ND to eliminate over 100 data collection forms. The statewide advisory team includes LEAs, and the review process requires high level management support.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

NCES Handbooks Update (Joint Session with NESAC & TECH)

The database contains all content from the original Student and Staff Handbooks, including new elements. Facilities and Crime and Safety data element information has been extracted from Forum documents. Work is continuing on Food Service data elements. Work on mapping to the PBDMI data elements is also ongoing. Version 2 of the Online Handbooks will be available this fall.

SIF (Joint Session with NESAC & TECH)

Barbara Andrepont, Forum liaison to the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF) described SIF's recent work. Linkage of SIF with PBDMI and the Student Handbooks is ongoing. SIF Specifications 1.5 were released earlier this year: changes to the Handbooks present a challenge.

Basic Participation Contracts

Ghedam Bairu invited LaShawn Pettaway to explain how to claim funds for basic participation and special task force orders.

  • LaShawn requested that Forum members only send their forms (invoice and deliverable) to her once, either via fax, email, or snail mail.
  • After the contracting office receives the forms, the Federal government has 30 days to send the states their awards. Interest will accrue after the 30 days.
  • The SF30 form is for informational purposes only, and explains how to claim additional funding. States should NOT send the form to her.
  • There is a new protocol requiring all governmental contractors—including states—to be registered in the Central Contractor Registration (CCR). LaShawn distributed copies of the Central Contractor Registration Handbook (May 2004). State education agencies can check whether they are registered by accessing the CCR website (http://www.ccr.gov) and entering their DUNS number. Also, states should call the Help Desk at 888-227-2423 with questions.
  • LaShawn's office has moved. Her new telephone number is 202/246-6174. The new contracting officer is Helen Chang.

Special Task Order Proposals

The cooperative system will again be awarding special task orders on a competitive basis for projects that improve federal-state cooperation in data collection, processing, analysis and reporting.

  • Proposals should be submitted to Ghedam Bairu.
  • Special considerations will be given to states that have never applied for the awards before.
  • SEAs must submit proposals and are responsible for the project but can collaborate/contract with LEAs on the project. LEAs cannot submit proposals.
  • $80,000 is the maximum award.
  • David Larson of North Dakota and Doug Kosty of Oregon volunteered to review proposals on behalf of PPI.
  • We reviewed examples of past projects conveniently posted on the Forum website. Members suggested a keyword search for the special task force projects. Additional website suggestions should be sent to Ghedam Bairu.

Open Forum: Project Suggestions

Jerry asked for any suggestions for possible work groups/publications. Suggestions included:

  • training guidelines/ materials to improve reporting (specifically, of discipline incidents)
  • guidelines on suspension and expulsion data and its relation to special education
  • training materials for student privacy/confidentiality
  • how to address the privacy concerns around reporting and collecting accountability data.
  • disclosure analysis
  • updating the SEDCAR document: how should data be displayed? what should be displayed? what is appropriate use?
  • where is disaster recovery for SEA/LEA school records best addressed?
  • what can we do to streamline data collection and management for districts (in relation to the DIRWG structure)
  • developing data management expertise and empowering data managers at all levels

This discussion will continue via the PPI listserv.

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NESAC Meeting Summary

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Introductions and Agenda Review

Bill Smith, NESAC Chair, opened the meeting. He circulated a membership roster for updates, asked meeting participants to introduce themselves, and reviewed the agenda. Bill explained that the mission and purpose of NESAC are to identify areas in education data where improvement is needed, and to develop reports and guidelines on those issues to help state and local education agency staff.

Comments on Forum General Session Data Initiatives

  • It was agreed that the opening session was useful.
  • There was some discussion on the PBDMI data elements to be collected. The CCSSO EIAC General Statistics Task Force has been working with the PBDMI office to review the data elements. The Task Force includes a local education agency representative as well as state representatives (Raymond Yeagley of Rochester, New Hampshire ).
  • NESAC members were urged to review the data elements on the OMB website and submit comments.
  • There was also discussion about privacy issues with data; there was concern about the data distribution from PBDMI and the state's loss of control of the data once it is submitted.
  • It was suggested that a guideline document be created for the PBDMI data usage at different levels.
  • Bill Smith reminded the group that the Forum Guide to Protecting the Privacy of Student Information: State and Local Education Agencies was distributed recently (visit http://nces.ed.gov/forum/pub_2004330.asp for more information about the publication).

Elections and Volunteers for Task Order Review Committee

  • Brad James (Vermont SEA), was elected NESAC chair and David Uhlig, Charlottesville (Virginia LEA) was elected vice-chair with no opposing votes.
  • Bill Smith asked for two volunteers to read task order proposals. Oren Christmas (Michigan) and Mary Pat Olsen (Minnesota) volunteered.

Possible Topics for Future Task Force Work

  • The group discussed possible issues or concerns that could be topics for a Forum working group or task force.
  • Recommendations included providing guidelines about minimum requirements for state student information systems in order to track student achievement or enrollment and completion status; guidelines for determining truancy rates; and methods for archiving electronic data.
  • It was also suggested that it would be helpful to have a task force look at the data elements in the NCES handbooks.
  • Deborah Newby noted that review groups are organized to look at the handbooks each year.

Update on the Data Information Review Working Group

Vickie Schray chairs the U.S. Department of Education's Data Information Review Working Group (DIRWG). She was formerly with the Office of Vocational and Adult Education and is now in the Office of the Secretary.

  • DIRWG was created as part of an initiative to stop duplicating information collections among ED's principal offices.
  • Vickie stated that the Department is not ignorant of the challenge before them; they are aware of the problems with their requests for information.
  • She noted that the Klinger/Cohen Act directed the Chief Information Officer to work with agencies to manage their information needs. Previously, agencies have focused on IT system management. The goal now is to lay out a broad approach to information management.
  • An Investment Review Board oversees DIRWG as well as the Planning Investment Review Working Group (pirwg), which reviews the business cases for all of the program area collections.
  • ED is interested in knowing its return on investment for its programs. Current data does not allow them to do that. A high level of support is being given to this initiative.
  • DIRWG has narrowed down some areas of initial focus such as PBDMI, and they are working on consistency in data definitions.
  • The practice of various offices asking for data with slightly different definitions creates a disconnect; the information collected is too department-specific, and that is why a data dictionary is so important.
  • The goal is to collect the data once, and use it multiple times.
  • Vickie expressed an interest in formulating ways to engage states and Forum members with DIRWG. She noted that states are critical partners in ED's data collection efforts, and she would welcome suggestions for how to include states in a dialogue with DIRWG.
  • Bill Smith said he would discuss with the Forum Steering Committees ways to involve state and local education agency personnel in a dialogue with DIRWG.

Task Force Reports

Steve King reported on the Indicators Task Force.

  • The task force is developing a guide to approximately 50 commonly used education indicators.
  • Audiences for the guidebook include state and local education agency data managers, policy makers, legislative staff, parents, and the press.
  • Steve emphasized this is version one—the guidebook will be adapted and expanded over time.
  • Since the last report to NESAC, the task force shared a public review draft of the guide with more than 35 reviewers from multiple sites in Montana, Colorado, and Wyoming in April 2004. The final list of reviewers included LEA and SEA representatives (superintendents, principals, assessment directors, and IT staff), higher education faculty, a state legislator, a state school board member, and a past president of a state PTA.
  • Also, the School Indicators & Profiles Special Interest Group of the American Education Research Association (AERA) dedicated a business meeting to the review of the document. The feedback that was shared was overwhelmingly positive and constructive.
  • The task force met in Denver in May 2004 to discuss all recommendations for improving the document. Several significant changes were made, including the addition of a Foreword to contain all text about the background and use of the document (excised from Chapter 1), a new order for the rows in our indicator tables (emphasizing definitions and use before constituent data elements and formulas), and the removal of several appendices that unnecessarily expanded the scope of the document.
  • The task force hopes to have paper and PDF versions of the document available for release by late fall 2004.

Wes Bruce reported on the Exit Codes Task Force.

  • The task force seeks to identify standards and principles of good practice in the collection of data and reporting of rates related to students who complete or leave K-12 public education and provide guidance for student-level exit codes.
  • The deliverable will be a guidebook that outlines issues in collecting data on students who leave an education system, and provides specific guidance on exit codes.
  • This guidance would include a crosswalk of commonly used exit codes to a national model. The national model includes six broad categories of how a student who is enrolled one year in a school/district can be accounted for the next year: 1. Still Enrolled; 2. Transferred; 3. Dropped Out; 4. Completed; 5. Not Enrolled, Expected to Return; 6. Exiters—Neither Completers or Dropouts.
  • The task force is finding a lot of variation in state exit codes.
  • States with fully developed student information systems have more useful codes.
  • By February 2005, a final draft will be ready for Forum review/approval.

Matt Cohen reported on the work of the Finance Task Force.

  • He explained that the task force had assisted in the development of the recently released NCES Accounting Handbook, but they are now back on task working on a set of finance indicators.
  • They expect to have a draft ready for review by the February MIS conference.

NCES Dropouts & Completers Work

Chuck Rainville explained that he is conducting a CCD data validation study for NCES on their dropout and completer data. Lee Hoffman of NCES is heading the initiative.

  • It is largely an assessment of the quality of the dropout and completer data in the states.
  • There are three things being done to validate dropout and completer measures: 1) a review of state exit codes being collected by the Forum Exit Codes Task Force to determine whether individual states have enough student status codes to collect sufficient data to calculate CCD definitions of dropouts and completers; 2) a review of the pbdmi data collected from the states as to how they calculate dropouts and completers; and 3) a review of other NCES data sets on completer rates.
  • He hopes to present a final publication at the MIS conference.
  • The ultimate goal of the project is to help identify more uniform measures to compute dropouts and completers.

Task Order Reports

  • Sherrill Martinez reported that Kansas is moving toward a data warehouse for student records. They are using their $80,000 task order grant to survey all school districts on their software to determine the level of compatibility among the districts.
  • Oren Christmas reported that Michigan is using an $80,000 task order grant to identify and catalog all legacy data systems, and move the data from those systems into a common file format.
  • Brad James reported that Vermont received $80,000 task force to look at the data capacities in their 60 supervisory unions. They are hiring a contractor to develop recommendations on how to retain, store and collect data. They will also look at the collection of financial data.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Steering Committee Update and Open Forum

  • Bill reminded attendees about the NCES Fellows Program. Several NESAC members shared their experiences from previous Fellows Programs.
  • Bill reported that the Steering Committee would be forming an ad hoc committee to look at ways to share information with DIRWG.
  • Bill also reported that NCES has stated that Forum publications can no longer carry the NCES logo. This is not meant to indicate a lack of support from NCES; rather, it reflects that the Forum publications are not statistical research products that require NCES review.
  • The topic of reporting on race/ethnicity was raised. Steve King, (Wyoming), said his understanding of the situation was that the race/ethnicity categories had not been finalized, and that no decision is likely to occur until after the election.

Census and Education Data

Deborah Newby reported that she is the representative from CCSSO who participates in the U.S. Census Decennial Advisory Committee.

  • She asked the group about their use of census data in state and local education agencies.
  • Generally, education agencies use census data to determine eligibility for Title I funds.
  • David Uhlig reported that Virginia districts collect their own data every three years to look at district populations and plan for facilities; they would like to compare their data with census data.

Next Meeting

The next NESAC will be held at the 2005 MIS Conference in New Orleans.

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TECH Meeting Summary

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Welcome and Introductions

Chairman Tom Purwin called meeting to order and participants introduced themselves.

Forum Opening Session: Review and Comment

The meeting began with a discussion of the Forum Opening Session presentations.

  • The School Information Partnership (SIP) presenter, Tom Lindsley (Director, Washington DC Office, National Center for Educational Accountability), had a slide that presented achievement data for "continuously enrolled students" (CES). Several committee members wondered whether it made sense to present achievement data for continuously enrolled students given the intent of the No Child Left Behind Act (after all, it is not the No "Continuously Enrolled Students" Left Behind Act).
  • State education agency (SEA) submissions to SIP are not comparable, even at very basic levels… yet they are being compared. How can this practice be discouraged?
  • Subsequent discussion led to a realization that there are a lot of education data related initiatives going on now (e.g., Performance-Based Data Management Initiative (PBDMI), School Information Partnership (SIP), Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF), and the Decision Support Architecture Consortium). Managing these issues at the state level could require 1 FTE over the course of a year. Coordination between these initiatives (especially PBDMI and SIP) must continue to be a priority.
  • PBDMI will be a great resource once it is running but, until then, it doubles the reporting effort. It would be great if it could get up and running fairly quickly.
  • The announcement that the NCES logo and boilerplate will no longer appear on Forum publications raised some concern. Committee members felt that clarification about the meaning of this action would be helpful but, in broad terms, members were not overly concerned about the announcement.

TD&C becomes Technology (TECH)

At the Winter 2004 Forum Meeting (February), the standing committee agreed that it should focus its efforts on technology and allow the steering committee to handle Forum dissemination and communication.

  • The name of the standing committee will now be "Technology (TECH)".

Performance Based Data Management Initiative (PBDMI)

Technology committee members were asked their opinions about 2004 PBDMI site visits.

  • Because PBDMI visits focused on both programs and data, it was a great opportunity for MIS and program collaboration in the SEAs. This exchange of information allowed SEA staff (who sometimes don't communicate on a regular basis) to discuss: (1) what data exist (sometimes program staff collect their own data without the MIS staff even knowing about it); (2) how a technical/data system can help program staff organize information (which they haven't always appreciated completely); and (3) what is the schedule for survey collections (and how might they be improved).
  • In some states, local education agency (LEA) staff and representatives from private organizations (e.g., non-profit education foundations that have a role in data collection or use) participated in PBDMI site visits to help them get a better picture of SEA education data capabilities.

Potential Future Forum Work

The committee recommended the following topics for consideration as future task forces.

  • Truancy definitions (i.e., what threshold must be reached for a student to be designated "truant" in SEAs and LEAs across the nation).
  • Enrollment and completion codes (analogous to the task of the Exit Codes Task Force).

Election of New Officers

  • Derrick Lindsay (Mississippi Department of Education) was elected TECH Chair for 2004-05.
  • Bertha Doar (Rockwood School District, MO) was elected TECH Vice-chair for 2004-05.

Volunteers to Review Task Order Proposals

Derrick Lindsay (Mississippi Department of Education) and Marilyn Grunewald (Franklin Central Supervisory Union, VT) volunteered to review proposals for 2004-05 special task orders.

Special Task Order Report

Tom Saka (Hawaii Department of Education) shared a presentation titled "Enabling Relevant School-Level Data Reporting" which was about work that his SEA's task order has supported during the past year.

  • The project is based on the Zachman Framework.
  • It focuses efforts on identifying what, precisely, is a school's purpose (e.g., preparing students for lifelong learning) and how the rest of the education establishment, including data reporting, should serve to support that purpose—as opposed to data reporting being one of the schools' purposes.
  • Hawaii is moving toward creating a data model for its schools.

Data Warehouse/Decision Support Systems

  • The Forum has previously considered decision support systems as a relevant topic for task force attention, but this consideration has generally been focused on data modeling and technical support.
  • The committee recognized that the functions and content of a decision support tool for an SEA would be different than one for an LEA, school, or classroom.
  • The group agreed that a better way to look at this issue is through the lens of "How can data be used to support the classroom and school building?"
  • It would be a great service if we developed a resource that would list and explain decision support tool features that exist in the market today. We would not rate specific products but, instead, provide local decision makers with the right questions to ask of their vendors in order to better evaluate their options prior to making a purchasing decision. This resource could be viewed as "A Guide to Decision Support System Literacy."
  • Tom Ogle will chair a working group to explore this issue. Volunteers to participate in the working group included Raymond Yeagley, Patricia Eiland, Marilyn Grunewald, Bertha Doar, and Bethann Canada.

Virtual/Distance Education Task Force Report

Blair Loudat updated the committee on the progress of the Virtual/Distance Education Task Force.

  • PPI and the Steering Committee approved the formation of this task force earlier in the day (based on the working group report).
  • Derrick Lindsay has agreed to co-chair the group with Blair Loudat.
  • The task force seeks to align and/or modify "traditional" data elements to better reflect the reporting needs of a virtual education learning environment. It will focus on elements that are needed for reporting and management purposes.
  • This tasks is viewed primarily as a K-12 effort, but extensions to post-secondary schools through transcript use will also be considered.
  • The first step will be to send out questions developed by the working group over the Forum listserv in an effort to get a better sense of where all states are with respect to policies governing virtual/distance education within their jurisdiction. E.g., certification, FERPA, and other management considerations.
  • The project will be a collaborative effort with the State Education Technology Directors Association (SETDA).

Forum Technology Suite

Tom Szuba reported that the Forum Technology Suite was nearing completion.

  • This new resource will synthesize and update four existing, but increasingly outdated, Forum publications: Technology @ Your Fingertips, Safeguarding Your Technology, Weaving a Secure Web, and Technology in Schools.
  • The new resource has been developed by Tom Szuba, Andy Rogers, Raymond Yeagley, and Jerry Malitz (the NCES Webmaster and Chief Technology Officer).
  • It will go to web developers by early fall and be posted on the Forum website shortly thereafter.
  • An email message will be sent over the Forum listserv to announce its release.

Data Quality Task Force Report

Blair Loudat updated the committee on the progress of the Data Quality Task Force. She reported that the data quality document was in the final pre-publication phase. An email message will be sent over the Forum listserv to announce its release sometime this fall.

Course Code Taxonomy

  • Phase I was intended to establish a taxonomy system for classifying courses. It has been completed.
  • Phase II will apply the taxonomy to high school courses.
  • Committee members recommended that this effort be coordinated with migrant and post-secondary efforts to classify courses.

Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF)

SIF executive director Larry Fruth updated the committee on SIF initiatives.

  • Larry reviewed recent changes to the SIF website.
  • Larry noted that SEAs and LEAs are starting to include SIF compliance as a requirement in RFPs, which is helping to encourage even more vendors to participate in SIF efforts.

Wednesday, July 27, 2004

Forum Website Revision

Tom Szuba updated the committee on the revisions to the Forum website.

  • The effort is nearly complete.
  • Committee members recommended a few new features, including a calendar, links to/from data initiative partners (e.g., PBDMI, SIP, SIF), and additional information on cooperative system contracts.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) Web Page

The committee recommended that the once useful, but now outdated, EDI web page be removed from the NCES domain.

SEA Online Survey

The committee recommended that the SEA Online Survey continue to be maintained. Bethann Canada and Blair Loudat will help Andy Rogers update the questions. They are strongly considering the topic of virtual education as one future strand of questions.

Steering Committee Report

Chair Tom Purwin reviewed TECH proceedings for the Summer Meeting in preparation for his committee report to the Forum Steering Committee.

Closing

Chair Tom Purwin was thanked for his service during the past year.


 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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