Skip Navigation
small NCES header image

The Forum Voice: Fall 2011 (Volume 14, No. 2)


Contents

Editorial Board
Letter from the Chair
Concluded Travels: The Publication of the Complete Traveling Through Time Series
Common Education Data Standards Update
From the Archives—Forum Guide to Decision Support Systems: A Resource for Educators
Forum Outreach
Promoting the Forum: The Work of Lee Rabbitt and Kathy Gosa
Updates to the Forum Publications Webpage
Hawaii’s Use of the Forum Guide to Data Ethics Online Course
New and Upcoming Resources
Forum Guide to Facilities Information Management: A Guide for State and Local Districts
Data Use for Researchers
Student-Educator Data Link Working Group
Updates and Events
New Members and Associates
Summer 2011 Meeting Recap
Upcoming Winter 2012 Meeting Information
2011-2012 Forum Officers
Newsletter Information
Links to Past Issues of the Forum Voice

Editorial Board

Tom Ogle, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Raymond Martin, Connecticut State Department of Education
Sonya Edwards, California Department of Education
Laurel Krsek, Napa Valley Unified School District (CA)
Ghedam Bairu, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education




Letter from the Chair

I take this opportunity to again welcome our new members and suggest that the Forum can become most valuable through involvement and contributions.  By participating in a work group or task force, you can enrich your own experiences while advancing the Forum agenda of improving educational data and data systems, and in turn, public education. 

Each year and each newsletter seems to bring a statement of the exciting time we find ourselves in.  This year is no different.  We can look forward to both new and recurring challenges of ESEA reauthorization, privacy, Common Education Data Standards, teacher effectiveness, teacher of record, assessment consortia and others yet to emerge.  We all benefit from the Forum member contributions to these issues.  The information world we inhabit expands its reach and complexity throughout our personal and professional lives.  To those who consume and provide data, define and modify data, verify and correct data, supply and demand data, the Forum and the world of educational statistics can be engaging and enjoyable.  I expect another exciting time at the Winter Forum, filled with opportunities for growth, learning, and a lively exchange of ideas. 

I find great value in the ways we address the convergence of local, state and federal perspectives.  The benefit comes from the connections as well as from the differences that illuminate and shape the work that we do.  My hope as Chair is to advance and support these similarities and differences as a way to enrich our opportunities and will look for ways to ensure that each of our perspectives have their voice and place in our discussions.

I am honored to represent the members of the Forum and am grateful for the opportunity.  My thanks to the Forum staff and fellow members of the steering Committee who make the work of Chair and of the Forum possible.  I am looking forward to seeing everyone in San Diego in February.  Server’s Up!

-David H. Weinberger, Yonkers Public Schools (NY)

Top

Concluded Travels: The Publication of the Complete Traveling Through Time Series

In July 2011, the Forum published the fourth and final book in the Traveling Through Time series.  This series provides a guide to designing, developing, implementing, and using longitudinal data systems, with a focus on the K12 sector.  The longitudinal data systems task force, which developed the series, was comprised of data experts with diverse and extensive experience.  These experts brought to the task their experiences in the public, private, and non-profit business sectors, as well as knowledge about education systems at the local, state, and federal levels.  The group began their work with the intention of assisting state and local education agencies (SEAs and LEAs) meet the many challenges involved in building robust LDSs, populating them with quality data, and using this new information to improve the educational system.  The result of their work is the four-book series, which covers a vast array of information critical to the successful establishment and use of LDSs. 

In the design of the series, care was taken to draw upon numerous resources that can assist SEAs and LEAs developing an LDS.  In addition to best practices, each book contains the following:

  • Pointers to sources of related information, including NCES and Forum publications, websites, relevant legislation, and other resources.
  • Documents and document templates that are typically needed in the development of an LDS.  These include handouts, requests for proposals, mission statements, data issue logs, and others.
  • Anecdotes, including fictional tales and real-world examples, of LDS development in practice. 

The series includes information ranging from basic considerations, such as defining an LDS, through the advanced use of systems.  The publication of the books as a series, with each release targeting a different level of LDS sophistication, allows education agencies to focus on the areas where they need specific assistance.  Thus, education agencies in need of assistance with stakeholder engagement might start with Book II, and education agencies looking to maximize the use of their existing systems might only wish to download Book IV.  Information on obtaining print copies of the books is available on the Forum Publications page.  All four books can be ordered from NCES or downloaded in pdf form.  In addition, books one through three will soon be available as html documents. 

Summary of the Forum Guide to LDS Series

Book I: What is an LDS?
  • Understanding what an LDS is (and is not)
  • Appreciating the organizational steps needed to institute and effectively use an LDS
  • Identifying the technical features and capabilities of an effective LDS and the additional features that can enhance the system’s utility
  • Recognizing the benefits of an LDS
Book II: Planning and Developing an LDS
  • Engaging stakeholders
  • Describing the current system
  • Envisioning the desired system
  • Defining needs, including data and functionality
  • Gaining buy-in and funding
  • Building relationships
  • Writing an RFP
  • Building or buying a system or components
  • Transferring knowledge (e.g., from developers to staff)
  • Defining and measuring success
  • Refining the system
Book III: Effectively Managing LDS Data
  • Defining governance structure
  • Defining roles and responsibilities
  • Collaborating to improve data quality and streamline operations
  • Managing changes to the system
  • Training staff to ensure data quality
  • Auditing/validating data at all levels
  • Establishing/following data standards
  • Securing data to protect privacy
  • Providing users access to key data
Book IV: Advanced LDS Usage
  • Collecting, storing, and delivering key data
  • Developing useful reports to fulfill common data requests and needs
  • Developing user-friendly data tools to facilitate access and analysis
  • Training users to utilize the technology
  • Building awareness, understanding , and analytical capacity

Top


Common Education Data Standards Update


At the Summer 2011 Forum Meeting in Bethesda, Maryland, the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) was a prominent topic of conversation.  CEDS is an NCES project undertaken in collaboration with stakeholders from the early learning, K12, and postsecondary sectors.  The project is working to create a specified set of the most commonly-used education data elements to support the effective exchange of data within and across states as students transition between educational sectors and levels, and for federal reporting.  CEDS is currently in the midst of a surge in development.  Since the July Forum Meeting, two drafts of CEDS Version 2 have been released for public comment.  Following the release of the CEDS Version 2 First Draft, over 250 comments were submitted.  The CEDS Version 2 Final Draft was released on October 31, 2011, and comments are due November 28, 2011.  The number and scope of elements was expanded for Version 2, and now notably includes early learning and postsecondary elements in addition to an expansion of the K12 elements.  The early learning focus is on basic demographics, program eligibility, child health, and program license and compliance elements.  The K12 focus is on assessment, federal reporting, and elements to support indicators and metrics.  The postsecondary focus is on Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) student-level items, including demographics, instructional programs, entrance information, and some financial aid elements.  The final release of Version 2 will occur in January, 2012, and besides the list of elements, definitions, and option sets, it will also include a logical model and a data alignment tool.

Top

From the Archives—Forum Guide to Decision Support Systems: A Resource for Educators

Education agencies collect vast and varied amounts of education data, which are often managed in systems according to collection.  Thus, agencies may have separate student data systems, staff data systems, facilities information systems, and finance data systems, among others.  Questions about policy and effectiveness often require systems that can link data across time, as described in the Traveling Through Time: The Forum Guide to Longitudinal Data Systems series, or link data across systems (e.g., when establishing links between staff and student data).  The Forum’s current and planned work on linking data across systems to benefit decisionmaking makes this an opportune time to revisit the Forum Guide to Decision Support Systems: A Resource for Educators

Published in 2006, the guide explains what decision support systems are, and how they can be of use to education agencies.  Components of a decision support system are discussed, along with recommended procedures for developing a system, which include conducting a needs assessment, planning for data security, and offering user training.  While acknowledging that decision support systems are complex and can require significant investments, the guide also explains the benefits of coordinating systems when performing critical information management tasks.  An appendix includes elements of a decision support system request for proposals (RFP).  The guide aims to provide reliable, objective information to education agencies regarding decision support systems. 

Top

Forum Outreach

Forum resources are developed to assist state and local education agencies in their efforts to improve education data systems.  The Forum promotes the dissemination of resources through publications, both electronic and print, and through the outreach of its members.  Recent notable outreach work includes the efforts of Lee Rabbitt (Newport Public Schools, RI) and Kathy Gosa (Kansas State Department of Education) to promote the Forum; the work of the Communications Subcommittee to improve the usability of the Forum website; and the experience of the Hawaii Department of Education as it promoted the use of the Forum Guide to Data Ethics Online Course.

Top

Promoting the Forum: The Work of Lee Rabbitt and Kathy Gosa

Forum members have recently taken the message of the Forum on the road.  Lee Rabbitt (Newport Public Schools, RI) and Kathy Gosa (Kansas State Department of Education) have presented about the Forum to diverse audiences at state, national, and international conferences and meetings. 

Kathy reported that at the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) conference in April, attendees were interested in Forum publications and in learning more about Forum meetings and membership, the work of the Forum, and why the Forum is important.  She has also shared information about the Forum and Forum publications at the American Statistical Association Joint Statistical Meetings.  Moreover, she is now preparing to promote the work of the Forum at the annual Kansas State Department of Education Conference.  When not promoting the work of the Forum at conferences, Kathy takes information about Forum initiatives and publications to Data Governance meetings, agency leadership meetings, and Council of Superintendent meetings—particularly when she thinks Forum work will benefit the group.  She also encourages her colleagues to take information to districts and to present information on Forum publications at Data Steward Workgroup meetings.
    
Lee reported that when speaking at national and state conferences and meetings, she primarily targets LEAs.  Her presentation includes information about how LEAs can use the free Forum resources, including how to access and download resources from the website.  She also offers concrete examples of Forum publications in use from her own district’s experiences.  At the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference, Lee participated in a poster session where she was able to hand out Forum brochures and set up a table with Forum resources.  She explained that poster sessions are effective at conferences because they are accessible to a larger audience than scheduled speaking sessions.

When asked what advice she would give to other Forum members interested in undertaking Forum outreach, Lee recommended the Forum Overview PowerPoint MS PowerPoint (5 MB) as a good starting point for presentations.  The PowerPoint can easily be altered to reflect the needs of the presenter.  Both Kathy and Lee also make it a practice to take paper copies of Forum publications when they present—Lee finds that even highly-technical audiences appreciate the opportunity to flip through a paper document.  Lee feels that recent emphasis on data systems, spurred by initiatives such as Race to the Top, makes this an ideal time to promote the Forum.  She has witnessed an ongoing interest in the Forum’s data ethics, data quality, and longitudinal data systems resources, as well as a surge in attention given to the Forum Guide to Metadata: The Meaning Behind Education Data and the Prior-to-Secondary School Course Classification System: School Codes for the Exchange of Data (SCED).

Top

Updates to the Forum Publications Webpage

 The Communications Subcommittee has been charged by the Forum Steering Committee to reconsider the ways in which the Forum communicates with its members, potential partner organizations, and other audiences.  Moreover, Forum Communications Subcommittee members work to promote the dissemination of information about the Forum and Forum publications.  Discussions at Communications Subcommittee meetings have led to recent enhancements to the Forum publications website.   In addition to short descriptions of each publication, the publications page now includes images of documents and links to pdf and html versions of documents.  EdPubs links also provide direct access to order forms for each publication.  This new design is intended to meet the needs of users who wish to order traditional paper copies of documents as well as those who wish to instantly download resources or access them on the web.  Users can also now view Forum resources by category/topic, such as those dealing with privacy, facilities, or data standards.  Website enhancements are ongoing, and users are encouraged to visit often to view new resources. 

Hawaii’s Use of the Forum Guide to Data Ethics Online Course

From July through October 2011, participation in the Forum Guide to Data Ethics Online Course surged.  Much of the increase was attributable to Hawaii, where over 250 teachers, principals, support staff, and administrators have successfully completed the course.  Christina Tydeman, Hawaii’s LEA representative to the Forum, learned of the course at a Forum meeting—at the same time that the Hawaii Department of Education was considering building a similar course.  While developing a statewide longitudinal data system (SLDS), the Hawaii Department of Education realized that increased training on data confidentiality would benefit staff members.  Because Forum resources are offered free of charge, use of the Forum course spared the state the cost and staff time required to develop a new course.  Information on the Forum course was included with materials provided during the state’s new SLDS rollout.  Christina reported that in addition to data stewards and administrators, teachers are encouraged to take the course because they are at the grassroots level of data collection.  When asked to provide advice to other states and districts considering promoting the course, Christina stated that timing is critical; by incorporating the course into the new SLDS rollout, Hawaii was able to promote interest in data ethics as part of a larger initiative.   

Top


New and Upcoming Resources


Forum Guide to Facilities Information Management: A Guide for State and Local Districts

Public school facilities have a direct impact on education quality, and they represent a substantial part of the public financial investment in education.  Facilities data are therefore used to inform decisionmaking and improve the management of public school facilities.  The newest Forum resource, the Forum Guide to Facilities Information Management: A Guide for State and Local Districts, updates information from a 2003 resource published by the Forum, and includes new and improved data elements.  Beginning with an overview of how educational facilities impact learning, the guide provides information on how to plan and implement a facility information system, and then use data from the system to calculate indicators of facility adequacy, equity, and efficiency.  The document includes recommended data elements, definitions, and option sets, as well as appendices with additional facilities resources.  Look for the publication of this resource on the Forum website in the near future. 

Data Use for Researchers

 Forum members are currently working to develop a resource that will facilitate the exchange of data between education agencies and researchers.  Allowing researchers access to education data can provide education agencies with useful information to inform and improve education practices.  It can also help to enhance collaboration between education agencies and research universities.  However, the exchange of data must be carefully managed to ensure that data are used appropriately and that all laws and standards for privacy and security of student information are upheld.  This upcoming Forum resource will assist education agencies considering the risks and benefits of allowing researcher access to data, and will provide recommendations for developing an infrastructure to handle data requests. 

Student-Educator Data Link Working Group

The Forum is currently in the early stages of convening a new working group that will focus on student-educator data links.  Linking student and educator data is both a timely and controversial topic, and there are considerable academic and policy debates surrounding the appropriateness of implementing the link.  Initial issues identified for consideration by the new group include: the purpose of linking students to educators; appropriate and inappropriate linkages; implementing the link in different environments (e.g., elementary versus secondary schools); policy implications; fiscal implications; longitudinal aspects of the link; and teacher of record definitions. 

Top

Updates and Events


New Members and Associates

The Forum is pleased to welcome the following new members and associates.  Several of these new members attended the Summer 2011 Forum Meeting in Bethesda, while others will be welcomed at the upcoming Winter 2012 Forum Meeting in San Diego.  We look forward to working with them. 

  • Kathleen Barfield, REL Southwest
  • Laura Boudreaux, Louisiana Department of Education
  • Chris Brandt, REL Midwest
  • Sarah Cox, Arkansas Department of Education
  • John Evans, Illinois Board of Education
  • David Goldstein, Data Quality Campaign
  • Chandra Haislet, Maryland State Department of Education
  • Bill Huennekens, State of Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Bob Jensen, Sioux Falls School District (SD)
  • Ellen Mandinach, REL West
  • Michael Pinkston, Lawrence County School District (AR)
  • Peg Votta, Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

    Top

Summer 2011 Meeting Recap

The Forum convened from July 25-27 in Bethesda, Maryland, for the Summer 2011 Meeting.  The meeting began with a very well-received professional development session on growth models, led by Neal Gibson.  Engaging and informative presentations continued throughout the session.  David Weinberger, then Forum Vice Chair, (Yonkers Public Schools, NY) moderated a panel discussion on assessment consortia that included Tom Foster from the Kansas State Department of Education and Wes Bruce from the Indiana Department of Education.  Cornelia Orr, of the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), shared information on NAEP and Elise Miller of NCES provided an update on IPEDS.  Anna Gregory, DC Public Schools, and Hella Bel Hadj Amor, formerly with DC Public Schools, provided a thought-provoking overview of the process of roster verification as part of implementing the teacher-student link.  John Easton, Director of ED’s Institute of Education Sciences, welcomed members to the Opening Session of the meeting, and Jack Buckley, Commissioner of NCES, updated members on NCES initiatives during the Closing Session.  When not attending presentations and panel discussions, members worked in standing committees to address issues of importance to the education data community.  Topics included the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS), P20 Data Systems, the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), data privacy, SEA progress on Race to the Top, and data governance.  Evaluations of the meeting were overwhelmingly positive, and members suggested numerous important topics for discussion at the upcoming Winter 2012 Meeting in San Diego, California.

Upcoming Winter 2012 Meeting Information

Winter 2012 Forum Meeting
February 13-14, 2012
San Diego, California
Contact: Ghedam Bairu


2011-2012 Forum Officers


Forum Chair: David Weinberger, Yonkers Public School (NY)
Vice Chair:  Tom Ogle, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Past Chair: Kathy Gosa, Kansas State Department of Education
   
NESAC Chair: Cheryl McMurtrey, Mountain Home School District 193 (ID)
NESAC Vice Chair:     Raymond Martin, Connecticut State Department of Education
   
PPI Chair: Tom Howell, State of Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information
PPI Vice Chair:    Sonya Edwards, California Department of Education
 
TECH Chair: Peter Tamayo, Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
TECH Vice Chair:   Laurel Krsek, Napa Valley Unified School District (CA)

Top

Newsletter Information

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

Top

Links to Past Issues of the Forum Voice

 Previous Page

Top

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.


Would you like to help us improve our products and website by taking a short survey?

YES, I would like to take the survey

or

No Thanks

The survey consists of a few short questions and takes less than one minute to complete.