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The Forum Voice: Fall 2002 (Volume 5, No. 2)


Contents

Editorial Board
Education Data and the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001
Forum Tackles Data Quality
There is Safety in Numbers!
Letter from the Forum Chair
Coming Down the Pike: The Forum in Action
Education Facilities
Education Finance
School Facilities Maintenance
Student Privacy
Technology in Schools
Weaving a Secure Web
Utah to Host 2003 MIS Conference and Winter Forum Meeting
Midwest Education Information Consortium (MEIC)
Upcoming Events
2002-2003 Forum Officers
Newsletter Information
Links to Past Issues of the Forum Voice

Editorial Board

Bethann Canada, Virginia Department of Education
Joseph Pangborn, Rhode Island Department of Education
Gerald Hottinger, Pennsylvania Department of Education
Patty Murphy, Utah State Office of Education
Ghedam Bairu, National Center for Education Statistics


Education Data and the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

No Child Left BehindThe No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 was signed into law on January 8, 2002. The Act changes the federal government’s role in K-12 education by introducing four basic education reform principles to America’s schools: (1) stronger accountability for results; (2) increased flexibility and local control; (3) expanded options for parents; and (4) emphasis on teaching methods that have been proven to work.

Because NCLB is scheduled to take effect in the fall of 2002, it is critical that educators become aware of the expectations of the new reforms. According NCLB, these initiatives include:

  1. States will create their own standards for what a child should know and learn for all grades. Standards must be developed in math and reading immediately. Standards must be developed for science by the 2005-06 school year.
  2. With standards in place, states must test every student’s progress toward those standards by using tests that are aligned with the standards. Beginning in the 2002-03 school year, schools must administer tests in each of three grade spans: grades 3-5, grades 6-9, and grades 10-12 in all schools. Beginning in the 2005-06 school year, tests must be administered every year in grades 3 through 8 in math and reading. Beginning in the 2007-08 school year, science achievement must also be tested.
  3. Each state, school district, and school will be expected to make adequate yearly progress toward meeting state standards. This progress will be measured for all students by sorting test results for students who are economically disadvantaged, from racial or ethnic minority groups, have disabilities, or have limited English proficiency.
  4. School and district performance will be publicly reported in district and state report cards. Individual school results will be on the district report cards.
  5. If the district or school continually fails to make adequate progress toward the standards, then it will be held accountable.

Moreover, beginning with the 2002-2003 school year, state test results must be reported to parents and the public. Report cards must include: student academic achievement on statewide tests (disaggregated by subgroup); a comparison of students at basic, proficient, and advanced levels of academic achievement (as determined by each state); high school graduation rates; the number and names of schools identified for improvement; the professional qualifications of teachers; and the percentages of students not tested.

It is clear that a cornerstone of the implementation of NCLB will be good data about students and schools. To this end, the National Center for Education Statistics and the National Forum on Education Statistics continue their work to improve the quality, comparability, timeliness, and use of education data. After all, No Child Left Behind requires valid and reliable data if there is to be an accurate assessment of student performance and progress.

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Forum Tackles Data Quality

No Child Left Behind legislation relies heavily upon the quality of data collected in schools, local education agencies, and state departments of education. However, ensuring data quality can often be a difficult task. To help guarantee the integrity of education data, it is preferable that data be gathered in a systematic manner by individuals who are well trained with regard to their roles and responsibilities. In an effort to provide guidance in this area, the Forum authorized the formation of a Data Quality Task Force at the Summer 2002 Meeting. The objective of the task force is to develop guidelines for schools and local education agencies as they examine methods for improving the quality of the data they collect and report. The task force plans to produce a short guidebook that will be accessible over the Web. A “checklist” will then be generated from the guidelines for easy reference by principals, data entry personnel, and other staff in schools and state education agencies. In addition, an executive summary and PowerPoint® presentation will be developed to help with project dissemination efforts. More information about the task force can be found at http://nces.ed.gov/forum/data_quality.asp.

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There is Safety in Numbers!

Graphic: To Help Promote a Violence-Free School Environment

No child can learn in a climate of fear. Under No Child Left Behind, states must report school safety statistics to the public on a school-by-school basis. The stakes associated with these data will be high: students who attend a persistently dangerous public school or become a victim of a violent crime while on the grounds of their public school will have the choice to move to a safer public school within the district.

Thus, NCES and the Forum were especially pleased during the July 2002 Forum to release the publication Safety in Numbers: Collecting and Using Crime, Violence and Discipline Data to Make a Difference in Schools, a collaborative report from state and school district administrators, education policy researchers, and U.S. Department of Education staff. In addition to including information about using data to improve school safety, promote learning, and focus reform efforts, Safety in Numbers provides practical guidance about ensuring reliable and valid data, developing an incident database, and reporting incident data. It also provides best practice data descriptions and codes for recording safety and crime incidents, including information about perpetrators, victims, and disciplinary responses.

Safety in Numbers is intended for use by schools, districts, and states to improve the effectiveness of their efforts to collect and use safety and crime data. The document (publication number NCES 2002-312) is available free of charge as a PDF file at http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2002312. A brochure about the document, titled To Help Promote a Violence-Free School Environment (publication number NCES 2002-375), is also available free of charge at http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2002375. Paper copies of either document can be ordered by contacting 1-877-4ED-Pubs or visiting http://edpubs.ed.gov.

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Letter from the Forum Chair

During the closing session of the Summer 2002 Meeting, the Forum elected Raymond Yeagley (Rochester Schools, NH) as Chairperson for the 2002-2003 term.

In case I left any doubt when I spoke at the July 2002 Forum, let me clearly establish that I am excited about the Forum, its work and products. Since my first meeting in 1997, I have been impressed with the dedication and reliability of Forum members - volunteers doing their Forum work on top of a regular workload that is probably more than full-time.

For me, the real reward from Forum participation is knowing that my effort will result in something useful for professional educators at all levels, and something that will ultimately contribute to better education for the children we serve. Two things are necessary for me to feel that we have achieved these goals.

First is high quality in Forum products. I believe that the Forum has attained, and continues to attain, a high standard in its publications. They are increasingly attractive and easy to use. The information is consistently accurate, timely and useful. The availability, ease of access, and price for the end user are unparalleled.

The second precursor to usefulness has been a greater challenge for the Forum. It is visibility. If those for whom the publications are written don’t know about them, then our nation’s children will not be receiving the greatest possible benefit from our work.

To that end, I have accepted a personal challenge this year to make the Forum the first place that local and state educators will look for information about education data and the technological means of collecting, analyzing and reporting those data. As chair, I challenge you to contribute to this effort. If you work at the local level, inform your area colleagues about the Forum and its products. If you are with a state agency, urge your chief to let you disseminate information about the Forum to whoever is on your state’s distribution list. If you are affiliated with a professional association, let the executive director and officers know about the high quality products available, at no cost, to their membership.

Because of No Child Left Behind, education data have moved from the back burner in many local schools and districts to the forefront in priorities. Education professionals throughout the nation are wondering what information they will need to collect and how to use it, both in terms of their states’ reporting requirements, and beyond. As a Forum, we have many of the answers they are seeking. Now we need to let them know that those answers are available and how to find them.

I am delighted to be part of this effort at a time when data have become so important to educators. I thank the Forum members for giving me this opportunity and look forward to serving with you.

Raymond Yeagley
Superintendent, Rochester (NH) School Department &
2002-03 Chair of the National Forum on Education Statistics

2002-03 Forum Priorities

Forum Chair Raymond Yeagley (Rochester Schools, NH) has announced his priorities for the National Forum on Education Statistics during the 2002-03 year. Highlights include:

checkmark icon Promoting the Forum as a source of expertise for national education data policy issues.
checkmark icon Increasing member service to the organization.
checkmark icon Establishing a strategy for updating the Forum Strategic Plan on a biennial basis.

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Coming Down the Pike: The Forum in Action

The Forum continues to work on a wide range of issues that affect the education data community. Current task forces include: Education Facilities, Education Finance, Data Quality (see Forum Tackles Data Quality), School Facilities Maintenance, Student Privacy, Technology in Schools, and Weaving a Secure Web.

  • The Education Facilities Task Force distributed a draft of its document, Facilities Information Management: A Guide for State and Local Education Agencies, for public review during Fall 2002. Pending comments from the review process and approval by the Forum, the task force hopes to unveil the final publication in February 2003 at the Winter Forum Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah. Visit http://nces.ed.gov/forum/facilities.asp for more information about the document and the work of the Education Facilities Task Force.
  • The Education Finance Task Force provided an update on the status of the Financial Accounting Handbook at the Summer 2002 Forum Meeting. They reported that the document is undergoing a technical and style review in Fall 2002. Pending comments and revisions, it will be posted to the Forum Website by December 2002. Additionally, the task force expects that the “Identification of Core Finance Data Elements” project will be completed by end of 2002 as well. Visit http://nces.ed.gov/forum/finance.asp for more information about the products and the work of the Education Finance Task Force.
Graphic: Planning Guide for Maintaining School Facilities
  • The School Facilities Maintenance Task Force expects to release its document, the Planning Guide for Maintaining School Facilities, in February 2003 at the Winter Forum Meeting. The document underwent extensive public review in Spring 2002 and was approved by the Forum in Summer 2002. It includes guidance about planning for school facilities maintenance, performing facilities audits, ensuring a safe environment for learning, maintaining school facilities and grounds, managing staff and contractors, and evaluating facilities maintenance practices. Visit http://nces.ed.gov/forum/maintenance.asp for more information about the document and the work of the School Facilities Maintenance Task Force.

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  • The Student Privacy Task Force has begun its work to update the privacy guidelines contained in the 1997 report Protecting the Privacy of Student Records: Guidelines for Education Agencies (which can be viewed at http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=97527). The revision will reflect new laws and issues that have arisen during the past five years since original publication. The task force expects to consider changes to the interpretation of key privacy laws that govern the use and exchange of education records, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA). Other issues to be explored include the placement of student pictures on school Websites, the exchange of directory information between public agencies, the complexities of cell suppression, and the possibility that several state departments of education may soon collect individual student records for the first time in response to the No Child Left Behind legislation. Visit http://nces.ed.gov/forum/protect_privacy.asp for more information about the work of the Student Privacy Task Force.
  • The Technology in Schools Task Force shared a draft of its document, Technology in Schools: Guidelines for Assessing Technology in Education, at the Summer 2002 Forum Meeting prior to distributing it for public review during Fall 2002. The Forum formally approved the document for publication in September. The task force plans to release the final publication at the Winter 2003 Forum Meeting. The document is designed to help decision makers and technology users collect and assess information about the scope, pervasiveness, and effectiveness of computer technology being used in school systems. It includes chapters about planning technology initiatives, financing technology, inventorying equipment and infrastructure, assessing technology applications (both software and systems), maintaining and supporting technology, training staff, and integrating technology into administrative and instructional efforts. Visit http://nces.ed.gov/forum/technology.asp for more information about Technology in Schools: Guidelines for Assessing Technology in Education and the work of the Technology in Schools Task Force.
  • The Weaving a Secure Web Task Force presented a complete first draft of its document, Internet: Weaving a Secure Web Around Education, to the Forum at the Summer 2002 Forum Meeting. After receiving positive feedback, the task force scheduled a public review of the document for Fall 2002. The purpose of the document is to help educators better understand what the Internet is, how the World Wide Web can be used in education, and how education agencies can effectively secure information on their own Internet node or Website. The task force expects the document to be completed in time for the Winter 2003 Forum Meeting. Visit http://nces.ed.gov/forum/weaveweb.asp for more information about the work of the Weaving a Secure Web Task Force.

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Forum page headerHeader: Public Review Drafts page

New to the Forum Website

The Forum has recently added a Public Review Drafts page to its Website at http://nces.ed.gov/forum/prdrafts.asp. The page provides Forum members, expert reviewers, and others interested in the activities of the National Forum on Educational Statistics an opportunity to view and comment on documents being developed by the Forum while still in draft form. Each draft (which will usually be in the form of a PDF file) will be accompanied by an evaluation form and contact information for the author(s). All new drafts to appear on the page will be announced via the Forum listserv and on the Forum’s What’s New page at http://nces.ed.gov/forum/whatsnew.asp.

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Utah to Host 2003 MIS Conference and Winter Forum Meeting

The Utah State Office of Education will be joining the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to co-sponsor the 16th Annual MIS Conference on February 26-28, 2003 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Winter 2003 Forum Meeting will precede the MIS Conference on Monday and Tuesday, February 24-25. As always, the week promises to offer unparalleled opportunities to share information about high profile data issues and cutting edge technology use in schools, school districts, and state departments of education. Meeting registration and logistics for both the MIS Conference and the Winter Forum Meeting can be found at the NCES conference planning Web site at http://nces.ed.gov/whatsnew/conferences/.

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Midwest Education Information Consortium (MEIC)

A group of states in the Midwest gathered in Kansas City in May 2002 to discuss issues related to education data collection, use, and reporting. Forum representatives from Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota initiated the meeting because they believed that the states shared common interests in and perspectives on cutting edge data topics. Because the meeting was held within the region, participants included not only Forum members but also other key members of state data teams who could share expertise and experience—allowing, for example, programmers from neighboring states to compare coding techniques in one room while their policy making counterparts discussed legislative initiatives in another. Topics of discussion included NCLB, the implementation of ethnicity codes, and programming strategies for developing web-based data systems. MEIC was established to support information exchange at a regional level within the Midwest. Other groups of like-minded states that would benefit from this type of interaction should contact Ghedam Bairu at NCES for information about convening regional education data meetings.

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Upcoming Events Contact
NCES Fellows
* Washington, DC * November 4-8, 2002 *

Mary McCrory

Winter 2003 Forum Meeting
* Salt Lake City, Utah * February 24-25, 2003 *
Ghedam Bairu
16th Annual MIS Conference
* Salt Lake City, Utah * February 26-28, 2003 *
Mary McCrory
NCES Fellows
* Washington, DC * May 5-9, 2003 *
Mary McCrory

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2002-2003 Forum Officers


Forum Chair:   Raymond Yeagley, Rochester Schools (NH)
Vice Chair:   Bethann Canada, Virginia Department of Education
Past Chair:   Lavan Dukes, Florida Department of Education
Staff:   Ghedam Bairu, NCES
NESAC Chair:   Bill Smith, Sioux Falls School District (SD)
Vice Chair:   Patty Murphy, Utah State Office of Education
Staff:   Beth Young, NCES
PPI Chair:   Nerissa Bretania-Shafer, Guam Dept. of Education
Vice Chair:   Gerald Hottinger, Pennsylvania Department of Education
Staff:   Ghedam Bairu, NCES
TD&C Chair:   Roger Young, Haverhill Public Schools (MA)
Vice Chair:   Joseph Pangborn, Rhode Island Department of Education
Staff:        Andy Rogers, ESSI

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Newsletter Information

To subscribe to the electronic version of the Forum Voice (http://nces.ed.gov/forum/voice.asp), visit the NCES News Flash.

To contact the Forum, browse: http://nces.ed.gov/forum, email: Ghedam Bairu, fax: (202) 502-7475, or write: NCES-Forum, 1990 K Street, NW, Room 9095, Washington, DC 20006-5651.

Links to Past Issues of the Forum Voice

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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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