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The Forum Voice: Fall 2007 (Volume 10, No. 2)


Contents

Editorial Board
Letter from Forum Chair Susan VanGorden
Welcome New Members
New Resources
Summer 2007 Meeting Recap
SLDS Website and Document Depository
Forum Task Force and Activities Updates
New Working Groups
Winter 2008 Meeting in San Francisco
Upcoming Events
2007–08 Forum Officers
Newsletter Information
Links to Past Issues of the Forum Voice

Editorial Board

Bruce Dacey, Delaware Department of Education
Helene Bettencourt, Massachusetts Department of Education
James Haessly, School District of Waukesha (WI)
Steve Smith, Waterville Public Schools (ME)
Ghedam Bairu, National Center for Education Statistics

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Letter from Forum Chair Susan VanGorden


As I said to all of you in our closing session, I am honored to have been elected by you to serve as your chair for the coming year. I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to work with a very dynamic Steering Committee and NCES staff. The high energy level and passion for data is very evident with this group! Please remember, we are here to serve the organization. Your participation and input is vital to meet the needs of the Forum and our education community.

We have a number of publications just released and currently have several task forces and working groups addressing critical issues before us in the collection and dissemination of education data. We must continue to produce high quality Forum publications and get them in the hands of local and state educators in a timely manner. I challenge you to inform your colleagues of these tools available to us at the local and state level as well as at other professional associations you are involved in. Invite a colleague to attend one of the upcoming data conferences or to participate in “data gathering/review sessions” for our task forces and working groups. It’s amazing how these small actions grow into something powerful to benefit the education community. I encourage you to visit the Forum website often to see what is happening with the task forces and working groups. Please consider getting involved when asked for feedback or greater participation in your areas of expertise.

In closing, I look forward to working with all of you to ensure that we continue to promote the Forum and carry forward its mission to "develop and recommend strategies for building quality education data systems that will support local, state and federal efforts to improve elementary and secondary education throughout the United States." I look forward to seeing all of you in San Francisco!

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Welcome New Members

At this year’s Summer Meeting, the Forum welcomed sixteen new members. The newcomers include:

William Castro, Guam Public School System
Corey Chatis, Tennessee Department of Education
Joseph Egan, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (WA)
Shawn Franklin, Nevada Department of Education
Dave Fringer, Council Bluffs Community School District (IA)
Ernest Huff, Jr., Arkansas Department of Education
Tracy Korsmo, North Dakota Department of Public Instruction
Raymond Martin, Connecticut Department of Education
Cheryl McMurtey, Mountain Home School District (ID)
Allen Miedema, Northshore School District (WA)
Sheri Rowe, Pennsylvania Department of Education
Mark Russell, Idaho Department of Education
Patricia Sullivan, Texas Education Agency
Waldo Torres, Puerto Rico Department of Education
Ted Vernon, Minnesota Department of Education
Ray Wilson, Poway Unified School District (MN)
Pat Sherrill, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development (ED)

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New Resources

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Forum Curriculum for Improving Education Data: A Resource for Local Education Agencies—This publication, developed by the Data Quality Curriculum Task Force and released in July, is a curriculum designed to support the training of K-12 school and district staff about issues associated with the production of high-quality education data.  It includes informational resources such as lesson plans, instructional handouts, and resource materials that can be used to prepare instructors to guide lessons and workshops.  The Curriculum is available online, and the print version is accompanied by a CD, which includes downloadable versions of the curriculum and supplementary resources.

   
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Forum Guide to Core Finance Data Elements—This publication, released in July, will help readers to better understand common finance data elements and the measures derived from these data elements. Intended to serve as a reference for public and private education agencies and schools, the Guide establishes current and consistent terms and definitions used to maintain, collect, report, and exchange comparable information related to education finances.  The Forum Guide to Core Finance Data Elements is available electronically.

   
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Secondary School Course Classification System: School Codes for the Exchange of Data (SCED)—Published in June, this NCES data handbook presents a taxonomy and course descriptions for secondary education. The taxonomy allows users to assign standard codes to secondary school courses in twenty-three major subject areas. Also included are descriptions of the content of each course as well as instructions on how to use the taxonomy to code the courses. The system is intended to help schools and education agencies maintain longitudinal information about students’ coursework in an efficient, standardized format that facilitates the exchange of records as students transfer from one school to another, or to postsecondary education. The Secondary School Course Classification System is available online.

   
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Handbooks Online—A new and improved version of the NCES Handbooks Online is now available to assist education agencies and institutions collect uniform and comparable data.  Version 5.0, the product of the most recent annual revision of the Handbooks, includes new and revised data elements, definitions, options, and instances.  Handbooks Online Version 5.0 is available at Handbooks Online.

   

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Summer 2007 Meeting Recap


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NCES Commissioner’s Remarks—Kicking off the Summer 2007 Meeting, NCES Commissioner, Mark Schneider, updated the Forum on the recent work of NCES and IES.  He acknowledged the recent publication of the long-awaited Forum Guide to Core Finance Data Elements, and the Forum Curriculum for Improving Education Data: A Resource for Local Education Agencies, and announced the 13 states awarded grants under the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems Grant Program.  Commissioner Schneider also gave an update on the progress of the EDEN/CCD merger and alerted us to the upcoming release of two new NAEP report cards on 12th-grade economics and 1st and 4th grade math.  Under way currently, is a high school longitudinal study to be followed by a similar study on early childhood education starting in 2010.  The commissioner wrapped up his remarks with a review of the status of NCES’s teacher/staff compensation survey, which has progressed considerably thanks to data provided by nine volunteer states.

   
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Migrant Student Information Exchange (MSIX)—Jennifer Dozier from the U.S. Department of Education, Derick Masengale from Deloitte & Touche, and Jeff Stowe of the Arizona Department of Education presented on the new MSIX system, which will improve the collection, storage, tracking, and sharing of information on migrant students on the national level.  With MSIX, states will no longer have to mail or fax information on migrant students, but will now be able to exchange data through this FTP-based system.  As a result, MSIX, which is primarily targeted at LEA counselors and registrars, will facilitate more efficient and accurate exchange of migrant student data.  The system has been through two pilot phases and will rollout nationally in September 2007. 

   
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EDFacts/Office of Civil Rights Survey—The panel, Tonya Johnson-Fitzpatrick, Rebecca Fitch, and Clare Banwart from USED, Office of Civil Rights (OCR), Ross Santy from USED, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development (OPEPD), and Nancy Walker from the West Virginia Department of Education, discussed  OCR’s progress toward an annual collection of its survey through the EDEN Submission System.  The survey, which tracks national civil rights trends and enforcement activities, and identifies possible sites for compliance reviews, was extremely successful in the most recent collection, receiving data from a record number of districts by the July 2, 2007 deadline.  West Virginia successfully submitted its OCR data through EDEN with the aid of its centralized state reporting system, which allowed it to help districts submit their data.  West Virginia’s experience suggests that most states will need to develop their own data submission standard to comply with an annual, universal OCR Survey. The transition plan for the collection of the survey through the EDEN Submission System will run through 2010–11.

   
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Teacher/Staff Compensation—Frank Johnson of NCES updated the Forum on the progress of the Teacher/Staff Compensation Survey. With the goal of providing better quality, nationally comparable data on teacher and staff salaries, NCES is currently collecting data from a set of nine volunteer states. In addition to some basic directory and ID information, including a unique teacher ID (specific to the compensation survey that Census will crosswalk with the state assigned ID), the survey will include: base pay of teacher; total pay teacher receives; retirement, health, all other, and total benefit data; employment indicators (e.g., the number of days in contract, FTE at school, status, salary indicator, new teacher indicator, etc); and demographic data (e.g., highest degree earned, years of experience, year of birth, race, gender, etc). Though it acknowledges that not all states will be able to provide all of the requested data elements, NCES will attempt to collect information from all states for the 2008 survey.

   
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USDA Free- and Reduced Price Meal Data—John Endahl of the USDA updated the Forum on the collection and use of Free and Reduced Price Meal data. The presentation reviewed the uses of free and reduced price meal data, including the direction of funds to low-income student populations through a host of public programs. Also reviewed were the certification process and verification practices. Certification will soon allow for year-round eligibility and mandatory direct certification of food stamp households.

For a more detailed description of these presentations, as well as all of the other events at the meeting, see the Summer 2007 Meeting Notes.

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State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) Website and Document Depository

The State Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) Grant Program has awarded competitive grants to states to aid in the design and implementation of longitudinal data systems.  By enhancing the ability of selected states to efficiently and accurately manage, analyze, and use education data, including individual student records, these systems are intended help states, districts, schools, and teachers make data-driven decisions to improve student learning, and to facilitate research to increase student achievement and close achievement gaps.  At the SLDS website, the public can find information about the program’s history, timeline, voluntary standards, guidelines, events (with links to PowerPoint presentations), as well as information about each grantee state.  The SLDS program is now developing a new resource called LDS Share.  This Longitudinal Data Systems Document Depository is intended to facilitate sharing LDS related resources between states and will be released as a CD.  The CD includes an extensive collection of documents that have been shared by grantee states.  For more information about LDS Share, to submit a document, or to request a CD, please contact Sarah Schaller Ruano.

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Forum Task Force and Activities Updates

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PK-12 Data Model Task Force
A first draft of the data model has been designed, and is now available in ontology (XML) and taxonomy (OWL) views.  The Task Force will begin soliciting feedback on the data model later this fall, and the project appears to be on schedule for a summer 2008 completion date.  More information can be found on the PK-12 Data Model Task Force page.

   
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Metadata Task Force
This task force has developed a first complete draft of the metadata document and will have one more meeting before the next Forum Meeting.  A public review draft of the Forum Guide to Metadata is expected for release late this fall (2007) and, pending comment from Forum members and other reviewers, the final document could be published by the Winter 2008 Forum Meeting.  Information on the progress of the Metadata Task Force can be found at the Metadata Task Force page.

   
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Race/Ethnicity Task Force
The Race/Ethnicity task force is producing an implementation guide to help state and local education agency staff (and vendor staff) implement recent federal changes to race/ethnicity data collections.  The document, which is on track for production perhaps as early as the end of the calendar year, will include sample letters and forms about why the change is going to occur and how to carry it out efficiently (and on a tight timeline).  More information can be found on the Race/Ethnicity Task Force page.

   
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Online Data Quality Curriculum
All the contents of the Forum Curriculum for Improving Education Data: A Resource for Local Education Agencies are now available online.  At your fingertips are the full collection of lesson plans, instructional handouts, and resource materials that can be used to support the training of K-12 school and district staff and to grow a culture that promotes the production of high-quality education data.  To access these new resources, visit the Online Data Quality Curriculum page.

   

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New Working Groups

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Disaster Recovery Working Group (PPI)
Following up on a general session on disaster recovery at the Winter 2007 Forum Meeting, Forum members overwhelming supported the establishment of a Disaster Recovery Working Group at the Summer 2007 Meeting.  The focus of the working group will be on disaster recovery issues to be dealt with in the wakes of natural disasters ranging from hurricanes to pandemic flu. 

   
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Data Ethics Working Group (TECH)
This working group will develop guidelines on appropriate and inappropriate management and use of data, conflicts of interest, how to deal with complaints about data collection and use, and how to handle ethically inappropriate conduct.  It will also discuss the protection of data according to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

   
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Longitudinal Data Systems Working Group (TECH)
In an effort to assist the many education agencies that are currently building longitudinal data systems (LDS) and those that will create them in the future, this new working group will develop a Forum Guide to Longitudinal Data Systems.  The document, which will be written from an SEA/LEA perspective, will be based on the experiences of current IES State LDS grant recipients (and other SEA or LEAs with existing longitudinal data systems) and will focus on building, implementing, and maintaining an LDS project in an education agency.

   
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Attendance Working Group (NESAC)
After concluding that the creation of a national definition for truancy is not realistic, the Truancy Working Group was dissolved and its former members and have reorganized as the Attendance Working Group.  Acknowledging that truancy is a function of attendance, the new group will study attendance codes and related concepts, especially as can already be found in existing Forum publications.  The group will meet on October 7-8, 2007 after research has been completed on attendance related terms and codes, and will set to work on developing a comprehensive and mutually-exclusive list of attendance codes for use nationally.  For more information on this working group, visit the Attendance Working Group page.

   

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Winter 2008 Meeting in San Francisco

The Golden Gate City will host the Winter 2008 Forum Meeting and NCES MIS Conference during the week of February 24-29, 2008. 

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Upcoming Events

Winter 2008 Forum Meeting * February 24–25 in San Francisco, CA *
Ghedam Bairu

Winter 2008 NCES MIS Conference * February 26–29 in San Francisco, CA *
Mary McCrory

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2007–2008 Forum Officers


Forum Chair: Susan VanGorden, Lakota Local School District (OH)
Vice Chair:  Bruce Dacey, Delaware Department of Education
Past Chair: Derrick Lindsay, Mississippi Department of Education
Staff:   Ghedam Bairu, NCES
   
NESAC Chair: Linda Rocks, Bossier Parish Schools (LA)
Vice Chair:     Helene Bettencourt, Massachusetts Department of Education
Staff: Alyssa Alston, CCSSO
   
PPI Chair: Levette Williams, Georgia Department of Education
Vice Chair:    James Haessly, School District of Waukesha (WI)
Staff:    Beth Young, QIP
 
TECH Chair: Kathy Gosa, Kansas State Department of Education
Vice Chair:   Steve Smith, Waterville Public Schools (ME)
Staff: Tom Szuba, QIP

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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

 Previous Page

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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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