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The Forum Voice: Fall 2003 (Volume 6, No. 2)


Contents

Editorial Board
The Era of Data Driven Education
Data Quality Starts at School
The Pros and Cons of Education Performance Indicators
Student Privacy: An Enduring Concern
Letter from the Forum Chair
Forum Selected State Agency Online Data Issues Survey
New to the Forum Website
New Publication: Facilities Information Management: A Guide for State
 and Local School Education Agencies
Forum Brochures: Putting Numbers to Work for Schools and
 Power Tools for Your Schools

Forum Welcomes New Associate Members
Virginia to Host 2004 MIS Conference and Winter Forum Meeting
Upcoming Events
2003-2004 Forum Officers
Newsletter Information

Links to Past Issues of the Forum Voice

Editorial Board

Blair Loudat, North Clackamas Schools (OR)
Brad James, Vermont Department of Education
Nancy Resch, New Jersey Department of Education
Madalyn Quinlan, Montana Office of Public Instruction
Ghedam Bairu, National Center for Education Statistics


The Era of Data Driven Education

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is undertaking the Performance Based Data Management Initiative (PBDMI) to improve the accuracy, timeliness, and utility of education data, create a stronger partnership between ED and the state and local education community, focus collection activities on outcomes and accountability rather than process, and reduce the burden of existing data collections. This initiative, and the corresponding activities taking place in state and local education agencies across the country, brings added relevance to the Forum’s mission to develop strategies for implementing national education standards that support local, state and federal efforts to improve elementary and secondary education throughout the United States. To this end, the Forum currently has several projects that will directly contribute to the quality of education data at the local, state, and national levels, including the work of the Data Quality Task Force, the Education Performance Indicators Task Force, and the Student Privacy Task Force.

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Data Quality Starts at School

Quality education data begin in the school. No matter how sophisticated data analysis may be at the district, state, and national leveducation data and has charged the Data Quality Task Force with providing guidance to schools and districts as they examine the training needs of those people responsible for data entry in schools and districts.

Although the task force will not be releasing its publication until 2004, it has already identified numerous topics it will emphasize, including policies and regulations, standards and guidelines, timelines and calendars, training and els, it isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on if the data weren’t entered properly in the first place… usually at a school site. The Forum recognizes this first and crucial link in the delivery of professional development, technology (i.e., hardware, infrastructure, and software), and workplace setting/environment as they influence data entry and reporting. The final document will include guidelines and checklists written specifically for board members, superintendents, data coordinators, information technology specialists, principals, teachers, counselors and, above all, data entry staff. For more information about the work of the Data Quality Task Force and the development of its publication, visit http://nces.ed.gov/forum/data_quality.asp.

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The Pros and Cons of Education Performance Indicators

Education performance indicators are used to measure the status of, or change in, an education system with regard to the performance of students, staff, and schools. We see education performance indicators used to describe our schools in report cards, newspapers, and on the Web. They can be powerful tools for identifying trends in educational progress or responses to new approaches in instruction.

The Forum’s Education Performance Indicators Task Force has been convened to establish recommended practices for K-12 education performance indicator use. It plans on accomplishing this task by developing a Guide to Education Performance Indicators that will provide detailed instructions for defining, calculating, and reporting key performance indicators that address common education policy issues. It will also make recommendations on appropriate presentation and interpretation of various performance indicators. For example, the commonly used indicator “expenditure per pupil” actually exists in numerous forms, including total expenditure per pupil, current expenditure per pupil, total instructional expenditure per pupil, direct classroom expenditure per pupil, and administrative expenditure per pupil, among others. Moreover, each of these indicators includes a “per pupil” denominator that is not as clear-cut as it might look. Some education organizations might divide expenditures by an October 1 student count, while others use an average daily membership (ADM), and still others an average daily attendance (ADA). While student count, ADM, and ADA may seem to be variations of the same concept, they can lead to substantially different values and, therefore, must be considered to be different measures. The Education Performance Indicators Task Force will address these and similar issues in its Guide to Education Performance Indicators, which is expected to be released for public review in early 2004. For more information about the work of the task force and the status of its publication, visit http://nces.ed.gov/forum/indicators.asp.

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Student Privacy: An Enduring Concern

Protecting the privacy of student records isn’t just a good idea. It is the law. As a national leader in the development of education data standards, the National Forum on Education Statistics has a long history with the issue of student privacy. In 1994, the Forum completed a report titled Education Data Confidentiality: Two Studies. In 1997, it published Protecting the Privacy of Student Records: Guidelines for Education Agencies to help education organizations develop adequate procedures for protecting information about students and their families from improper release, while still satisfying the need for school officials to make sound management, instructional, and service decisions. More recently, in 2000, the Forum released Privacy Issues in Education Staff Records, which addressed key concepts in protecting and managing staff record information.

The Forum is once again working to provide guidance to schools and education agencies regarding their responsibilities to protect the privacy of student information. The Student Privacy Task Force is currently revising the document Protecting the Privacy of Student Records: Guidelines for Education Agencies. This revised publication places particular emphasis on changes in legal requirements made in recent years. For example, No Child Left Behind requires that state education agencies have procedures in place to facilitate the transfer of disciplinary records with respect to suspensions and expulsions. Current Federal law also gives parents more rights with regard to the collection of information from students for marketing purposes and certain non-emergency medical needs. These changes, and others that may affect a school, district, or state education agency’s handling of education records, are addressed in the revision. For more information about the task force’s efforts, visit http://nces.ed.gov/forum/student_privacy.asp.

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Letter from the Forum Chair

During the closing session of the Summer 2003 Meeting, the Forum elected Bethann Canada (Virginia Department of Education) as Chairperson for the 2003-2004 term.

I am very grateful and honored to have been elected chair of the Forum on its fifteenth birthday. Since my first meeting, I have continued to be in awe of the high quality work turned out by a group of such talented and committed volunteers, the consultants, and hard working staffers at NCES. I have worked hard to become an active member of the Forum, and that effort has been rewarded ten times over by what I’ve received in return. I am so proud to be working with all of you!

In July, I updated you on progress toward goals in our strategic plan. We reflected on advances and achievements. I want to continue the work we’ve done to turn out timely, top-quality products that address the needs of data providers and consumers at all levels of education.

As we turn out products, it is important to remember to use them in support of Goal Three - Promoting the Forum. To that end, I propose to build a Web-based kit for members that will contain tools we can use to promote the Forum throughout the year. This toolkit will contain presentations, newsletter articles, and letters that we can easily adapt to meet the needs of audiences in our state, district, or organization. I hope you will help to build this toolkit by providing samples of things you’ve already developed.

There is also much work to do in support of efforts like the PBDMI/EDEN initiative, which will improve the integration of education data collections. Please give this ambitious effort your full attention. It will ultimately result in more timely and accurate information about student and school performance for decision-makers.

As you set your agendas for the coming year, I challenge you to approach new and exciting topics like geographic information systems, the K-12 to postsecondary link, early childhood data elements, the need for data audit programs, and how new technologies like XML and Web services can impact education data systems.

The Forum is not just two meetings a year, nor is it just task force activities. It is a year-round effort. Support the Forum between meetings in your home state or district. Working together, this fifteenth year of the Forum is bound to be another success.

See you at our next meeting (February 2004) in my home state, Virginia!

Bethann Canada
Virginia Department of Education & 2003-2004 Chair of the National Forum on Education Statistics

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Forum Selected State Agency Online Data Issues Survey

The Forum updated its Selected State Agency Online Data Issues Survey in June 2003 to reflect progress made in state education agencies over the past year in the areas of online data collection, student information systems, and decision support systems. Results show that 22 of 54 (41%) responding states and extra-state jurisdictions reported that 90% or more of their data collection activities occur via the Internet or an intranet. Twenty-nine of 54 (54%) respondents reported that their SEA is currently using a statewide individual student record system, with 20 more additional SEA respondents saying that they are in the design or discussion phase. Finally, 16 of 54 (30%) SEAs said that they are currently using a decision support system. Results of this survey are intended to inform and facilitate cooperation between SEAs as they develop new education data collection, maintenance, and reporting technologies. All responses are posted on the Forum Website.

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New… to the Forum Website

The Forum has recently added several new features to its website:

checkmark icon The 2002-2003 Forum Annual Report lists Forum officers, products, task force activities, and action items for the past year.
checkmark icon A revision of the Forum Orientation Guide will help new and old Forum members alike.

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New Publication: Facilities Information Management: A Guide for State and Local School Education Agencies

Facilities Information Management: A Guide for State and Local School Education Agencies logo The Education Facilities Data Task Force has completed its task and produced the document Facilities Information Management: A Guide for State and Local School Education Agencies. The publication is a guide to designing and maintaining an information system about the condition, design, use, management, and financing of elementary/secondary education facilities. It includes commonly used measures, data elements, and a list of additional resources for the practitioner. Facilities Information Management: A Guide for State and Local School Education Agencies (NCES #2003400) is available in both paper and electronic formats through the NCES Electronic Catalog or by calling 1-877-4ED-PUBS.

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Forum Brochures: Putting Numbers to Work for Schools and Power Tools for Your Schools

Putting Numbers to Work for Schools logoPower Tools for your Schools logoThe new Forum brochures, Putting Numbers to Work for Schools and Power Tools for your Schools, are now available for promoting activities and publications of the National Forum on Education Statistics. Visit the NCES product pages for Putting Numbers to Work for Schools and Power Tools for your Schools to find out more about the Forum and the numerous free resources it has developed for schools, districts, state education agencies and the education data community. To order a printed copy of either product, visit EDPUBS or call 1-877-4ED-PUBS.

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Forum Welcomes New Associate Members

The Forum welcomed representatives from the Navajo Nation Education Center and the State Education Technology Directors Association (SETDA) as new associate members during the Summer 2003 Forum meeting. The Navajo Nation Education Center serves the Navajo community in four western states, whereas the State Educational Technology Directors Association is the principal association representing state directors for educational technology in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Both organizations will bring new perspectives to Forum activities.

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Virginia to Host 2004 MIS Conference and Winter Forum Meeting

The Virginia Department of Education and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) will co-host the 17th Annual MIS Conference on February 25-27, 2004 in Portsmouth, Virginia. The Winter 2004 Forum Meeting will precede the MIS Conference on February 23-25. 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 will be available in early October on the NCES conference planning website.

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Upcoming Events Contact
NCES Fellows
Washington, DC * November 3-7, 2003
Mary McCrory
Winter 2004 Forum Meeting
Portsmouth, VA * February 23-25, 2004
Ghedam Bairu
17th Annual MIS Conference
Portsmouth, VA * July 25-27, 2004
Mary McCrory
NCES Fellows
Washington, DC * May 3-7, 2004
Mary McCrory
Summer 2004 Forum Meeting
Washington, DC * July 26-28, 2004
Ghedam Bairu
NCES Summer Data Conference
Washington, DC * July 28-30, 2004
Mary McCrory
NCES Fellows
Washington, DC * November 1-5, 2004
Mary McCrory

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2003-2004 Forum Officers


Forum Chair:   Bethann Canada, Virginia Dept. of Education
Vice Chair:   Blair Loudat, North Clackamas Schools (OR)
Past Chair:   Raymond Yeagley, Rochester Schools (NH)
Staff:   Ghedam Bairu, NCES
NESAC Chair:   Bill Smith, Sioux Falls School District (SD)
Vice Chair:   Brad James, Vermont Dept. of Education
Staff:   Deborah Newby, CCSSO
PPI Chair:   Gerald Hottinger, Pennsylvania Dept. of Education
Vice Chair:   Nancy Resch, New Jersey Dept. of Education
Staff:   Ghedam Bairu, NCES
TD&C Chair:   Tom Purwin, Jersey City Public Schools (NJ)
Vice Chair:   Madalyn Quinlan, Montana Office of Public Instr.
Staff:        Andy Rogers, ESSI

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Newsletter Information

The Forum Voice is released as an electronic publication. To subscribe, visit the NCES News Flash.

To contact the Forum, e-mail Ghedam Bairu, fax: (202) 502-7475, or write: NCES-Forum, 1990 K Street, NW, Room 9095, Washington, DC 20006-5651.

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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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