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the National Forum on Education Statistic’s e-Newsletter
NEWSLETTER INFORMATION | NEWSLETTER ARCHIVE

New and Upcoming Resources

Forum Guide to Supporting Data Access for Researchers: A Local Education Agency PerspectiveForum Guide to Supporting Data Access for Researchers: A Local Education Agency Perspective
Local Education Agencies (LEAs) receive requests from researchers for access to data about students and staff (for research) but often do not have the capacity to field, support, and monitor these requests. The LEA Data Access for Researchers Working Group modified the Forum Guide to Supporting Data Access for Researchers: A State Education Agency Perspective into a companion guide that is more relevant to LEAs and includes information on supporting primary research. The guide recommends a set of core practices, operations, and templates that can be adopted by LEAs as they consider how to respond to requests for education data. Additional information on the work of the group is available at http://nces.ed.gov/forum/LEA_Data_Access.asp. Look for the publication of this resource on the Forum website in the near future.

New and Upcoming Resources

Forum Guide to School Codes for the Exchange of Data (SCED): School Course Classification System
The National Forum on Education Statistics (Forum) convened the School Codes for the Exchange of Data (SCED) Working Group to revise and update the 2007 document, Secondary School Course Classification System: School Codes for the Exchange of Data (SCED) and the companion 2011 Prior-to-Secondary SCED. SCED provides a common, widely-understood, standardized system that education agencies and other stakeholders can use to compare course information, maintain longitudinal data about students’ coursework, and efficiently exchange coursetaking records. The Working Group reviewed the recommended updates and identified three areas for revision in SCED Version 2.0: Advanced Placement (AP) Course Codes, Visual and Performing Arts Course Codes, and Career and Technical Education (CTE) Course Codes. The State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education (SEADAE) provided recommendations for updating Visual and Performing Arts courses, and a coalition of experts led by members of the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), the National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc), the U.S. Department of Education Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE), and the Ohio Department of Education provided recommendations for updating CTE courses. Family and Consumer Sciences Education Representatives, led by the National Coalition for Family and Consumer Sciences Education (NCFCSE), also contributed to CTE recommendations. The SCED Working Group also consulted subject matter experts in SEAs and LEAs throughout the revision process.

New and Upcoming Resources

Forum Guide to Supporting Data Access for Researchers: A State Education Agency PerspectiveForum Publications
Forum members establish working groups to develop best practice resources in data-related areas of interest to federal, state, and local education agencies. All Forum publications are free and can be accessed electronically at http://nces.ed.gov/forum/publications.asp.

Editorial Board

Thomas Purwin, Jersey City Public Schools (NJ), Editorial Chair
Jan Petro, Colorado Department of Education
John Kraman, Oklahoma State Department of Education
Michael Hopkins, Rochester School Department (NH)
Ghedam Bairu, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education

Letter from the Chair

Welcome to the Forum for another exciting year. The Forum strives to provide states, districts, and schools with helpful advice on the collection, maintenance, and use of elementary and secondary education data. Our members enrich our work with local, state and federal perspectives, and I strongly encourage all members to actively participate in Forum meetings, committees, and work groups.

Each year this newsletter reflects on issues that are part of each of our daily lives. This year we look forward to new challenges as well as revisiting past issues. Education data are exploding around us. We live in a data driven culture that is moving at a rapid pace. Education data are at the heart of school, district and state improvement. The Forum addresses problems, develops resources, identifies best practices, and considers new approaches for improving data collections and data use. These valuable resources continue to grow and expand, thanks to the hard work of our working groups and Forum members.

I am honored to serve as the Chair of the Forum. Thank you to the Forum staff and the Steering Committee members who make the work of the Chair and the Forum possible. I am looking forward to our continued work to improve the quality, comparability, and usefulness of education data!

Lee Rabbitt
Forum Chair, 2013-14
Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Overview: Regional Education Laboratories (REL) Research Alliances

The Regional Education Laboratories (REL) Research Alliances are voluntary groups of state, district, or other education stakeholders who share a common challenge related to education and seek to use data and research to address that challenge. The REL, as a participant and sometimes as a convener of these groups, provides assistance in developing research agendas, articulating research questions, and answering those questions. Each REL has between 4 and 10 research alliances that it is working with at any given time. Some research alliances have long histories of collaborative work while others have developed more recently in response to a regional need. The group of research alliances that a REL works with may change over time or may last for years depending upon when each alliance’s needs have been fully met. New alliances may come into existence based on the identification of needs in a REL region. Eighty-five percent of REL work is required to be associated with alliances.

There are currently 72 research alliances across the 10 RELs, and each has a particular issue as their focus. Alliances may have members from a single state or from multiple states within the REL’s region. Thirty-one alliances are comprised of members from a single state, 40 alliances are comprised of members from multiple states in the REL’s region, and one alliance’s membership comes from a single school district.

Many of the research alliances across the REL Program are organized around similar topic areas, including college and career readiness, dropout prevention, rural education, teacher effectiveness, and early childhood education. Other alliances are focused on issues that are more regionally-specific, such as the Bureau of Indian Education High School Alliance with REL Northwest, the Native American Education Research Alliance with REL Central, and the Mid-Atlantic Historically Black Colleges and Universities Alliance with REL Mid-Atlantic.

Examples of research alliances include:

  • An Alliance between REL Midwest and the state of Ohio, known as the Dropout Prevention Research Alliance: Improving student graduation rates is a statewide priority in Ohio. This alliance focuses on increasing graduation rates and on reducing persistent disparities in graduation and dropout rates among student subgroups. Short-term goals of the alliance are to identify locally valid predictors of student dropout in a set of pilot districts and to build and implement comprehensive early warning systems based on those indicators. Work proposed in the upcoming year will serve the alliance’s longer-term goal of scaling up early warning systems in ways that allow evaluation of the efficacy of well-implemented early warning indicator systems. This alliance has recently expanded to include stakeholders from Indiana and Michigan who are interested in validating early warning indicators in their states. For more information, go to: http://www.relmidwest.org/research-alliances/dropout-prevention-research-alliance.
  • An Alliance between REL Pacific and the Freely Associated States (FAS), known as Optimizing Data Readiness in the Freely Associated States: This alliance is dedicated to mapping the ways in which data in the freely associated states flow through the educational system, how they are interpreted, and how they influence decision making. The alliance began and will continue its work in the FAS where these challenges are the most acute. For more information, go to: http://relpacific.mcrel.org/alliance5.html.
  • An Alliance between REL Pacific and the state of Hawai’i, known as the Hawai‘i Partnership for Educational Research Consortium: The Hawai‘i Partnership for Educational Research Consortium (HPERC) Research Alliance, is intended to bridge education data from Preschool to K–12 to college and career by identifying and filling critical gaps in the State of Hawai‘i’s Statewide Longitudinal Data System implementation plan and by assessing progress on the alignment and integration of student identifiers within early childhood educational centers, public and private K–12 schools, and the University of Hawai‘i system (including all state community colleges). To strengthen Hawai‘i’s data system implementation, this alliance will work toward improved communication, training, and technical assistance offerings to stakeholders throughout the state. For more information, go to: http://relpacific.mcrel.org/alliance6.html.
  • An Alliance between REL Northwest and the state of Alaska, known as the Alaska State Policy Research Alliance (ASPRA): ASPRA provides a forum for policymakers, researchers, and other constituents to collectively examine evidence-based solutions to education challenges in the state. Members are particularly focused on the priority need of preparing students for postsecondary success. ASPRA's goals are to build common awareness and knowledge of research evidence about college and career readiness; increase the capacity of Alaska Department of Education & Early Development (EED) staff to conduct high-quality research and to share the evidence with legislators and other stakeholders; and increase the use of evidence and research in making education policy decisions. For more information, go to: http://educationnorthwest.org/rel-northwest/rel-research-alliances/aspra.
  • An Alliance between REL Northwest and the state of Idaho, known as the Idaho System of Recognition, Accountability, and Support (ID SRAS) Research Alliance: REL Northwest is partnering with Idaho State Department of Education, state technical assistance providers, and school districts to conduct, interpret, and communicate research evidence relating to the priority need of school improvement. The ID SRAS alliance also seeks to build the capacity of its members to make more informed decisions about improving low-performing schools. For more information, go to:http://educationnorthwest.org/rel-northwest/rel-research-alliances/id-ssos.

Overview: The Standard Occupational Classification

Forum members were recently informed of revisions to the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. The SOC is used by Federal statistical agencies to classify workers into occupational categories for the purpose of collecting, calculating, or disseminating data. Information on the SOC is available at http://www.bls.gov/soc/. The SOC Policy Committee began planning for the 2018 revision in early 2012 and expects to solicit public input through an initial Federal Register notice published by the end of calendar year 2013. This process will lead to a proposed revision that will be available for public comment through a second Federal Register notice in early 2015 and publication of the final 2018 SOC codes, titles, and definitions in early 2017. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) intends to consider revisions of the SOC for 2018 and every 10 years thereafter. Potential commenters are encouraged to carefully review the information provided in “Input Requested by the SOC Policy Committee,” available at http://www.bls.gov/soc/input_requested_by_the_%20socpc_2018.pdf. This is a section of “Revising the Standard Occupational Classification,” a larger document that more fully describes the history and structure of the SOC, available at http://www.bls.gov/soc/revising_the_standard_occupational_classification_2018.pdf. All comments on the SOC revision must be submitted as responses to the Federal Register notices.

Forum Working Groups

Alternative Socioeconomic Status (SES) Measures Working Group
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National School Lunch Program has introduced a community eligibility option (CEO) to simplify the free- and reduced-price meals (FRPM) application process and reduce burden on education agencies. This change will result in the loss of the FRPM eligibility indicator at the individual student level, which will affect many states and districts that use these data as a measure of economic status (e.g., for accountability reporting or the distribution of Title I funds). The Forum’s Alternative SES Measures Working Group is reviewing existing state practices, methods proposed in academic literature, and other practical ways education agencies can develop and implement measures of socio-economic status for their operational and reporting needs. More information on the Working Group is available at http://nces.ed.gov/forum/alternative_ses.asp.

Virtual Education Working Group
The Virtual Education Working Group is reviewing and updating the 2006 Forum Guide to Elementary/Secondary Virtual Education, which was developed to assist state and local education agencies and other education stakeholders with best practices and elements for incorporating virtual education data into education data systems. Virtual education has expanded and changed since 2006, and the Forum Virtual Education Working Group will revise the guide to ensure that it is comprehensive, up-to-date, and accurate. The Working Group will convene in fall 2013 to discuss the scope of the project and to develop a revision timeline.

College and Career Readiness Working Group
The term college and career readiness is increasingly used to describe the goals of educational programs and initiatives. Forum members have identified the need for more information on the meaning of readiness, as well as methods of measuring and reporting readiness. In response to this time-sensitive need for information, the Forum is working with NCES to consider the establishment of a Forum Working Group. The Working Group met via WebEx in November to discuss the topic and determine how the Forum can contribute to the understanding of college and career readiness.

Forum Online Courses

Forum Guide to Data Ethics Online CourseForum Guide to Data Ethics Online Course
The Forum Guide to Data Ethics Online Course is based on the Forum Guide to Data Ethics. The course includes an online test, and individuals who pass receive a certificate. Since the creation of the course, 425 individuals from SEAs and LEAs, universities, and private educational organizations have successfully completed the course and received certificates.

Improving Education Data Online CourseImproving Education Data Online Course
The Improving Education Data Online Course is based on topics addressed in the Forum Curriculum for Improving Education Data: A Resource for Local Education Agencies. The course is offered in in two parts: Part 1 – Creating a Foundation introduces users to the concept of quality data, assists users in assessing school or district data quality issues, introduces the concept of classifying education data, and touches on laws governing data security and confidentiality. Part 2 – Coordinating Quality Data covers the roles and responsibilities of the data steward, discusses data flow and cycles and how they affect high-quality data, examines how data entry errors can affect quality data, introduces the concepts of a data dictionary, a data calendar, and a data audit. Finally, it suggests communications strategies that LEA staff should consider to improve data quality.

Updates and Events

Summer 2013 MeetingSummer 2013 Meeting Recap
The 2013 Summer Forum Meeting took place July 15-16 in Washington, DC. A wide variety of topics were discussed by members in the general sessions, breakouts, and working groups. Presentation and discussion topics included

  • two new Forum resources, the Forum Guide to the Teacher-Student Data Link: A Technical Education Resource, and the Forum Guide to Supporting Data Access for Researchers: A Local Education Agency Perspective, which will soon be available on the Forum’s publication page (http://nces.ed.gov/forum/publications.asp);
  • updates and information on teacher education, student college and career readiness, Common Education Data Standards, the Civil Rights Data Collection, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, Education Enterprise Architecture, Perkins Act reauthorization, cloud computing, the Privacy Technical Assistance Center Data Governance Checklist, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Community Eligibility Option, and Common Core State Standards;
  • Regional Education Laboratory Alliance research across the country; and
  • new and ongoing Forum work on School Codes for the Exchange of Data (SCED), alternative socioeconomic status measures, virtual education, teacher-student data links, and local education agency data use.

The 2012-13 officers were recognized for their service, and a new slate of officers, chaired by Lee Rabbitt of the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education was elected for 2013-14. In addition, the National Endowment for the Arts was voted in as a federal Forum member.

Newsletter Information

The Forum Voice is released as an electronic publication. 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.

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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