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The Forum Voice: Spring 2001 (Volume 4, No. 1)


Contents

Winter Forum 2001
Standing Committee News
      National Education Statistics Agenda Committee (NESAC)
      Policies, Programs, and Implementation (PPI)
      Technology, Dissemination & Communications (TD&C)
Kickoff of NCES Education Institution Handbook
Forum website: New and Improved
Texas Assessment Conference Learns About Forum
MIS 2001: Quality Data ~ Quality Decisions in Orlando
Upcoming Events
Newsletter Information
2000-2001 Forum Officers
Links to Past Issues of the Forum Voice

Editorial Board

Lavan Dukes, Florida Department of Education
Blair Loudat, North Clackamas School District (OR)
Bethann Canada, Virginia Department of Education
Ronald Danforth, New York State Education Department
Ghedam Bairu, NCES


Winter Forum 2001

The Winter Meeting of the National Forum on Education Statistics was held in Washington DC from January 29-31, 2001. In addition to Forum task force meetings and standing committee meetings, Forum members were treated to a rich array of general session speakers and round table discussions.

Forum Chair Andy Rogers (Los Angeles Unified School District, CA) welcomed general session speakers who shared valuable perspectives on several issues of importance to the education data community. NCES Acting Commissioner Gary Phillips described how NCES is improving its technological capabilities in response to its vision for 21st century education data collection, reporting, and use. He reported that servers are being upgraded, users are analyzing data online, and Web-based collections are becoming a reality.

Jeff Owings, Associate Commissioner for Elementary/Secondary and Libraries Studies at NCES, then highlighted five successful outcomes of NCES' relationship with the Forum: (1) the Forum has become a recognized voice for K-12 data issues throughout the U.S. Department of Education; (2) the Forum has taken an active role in national standard setting for education data-e.g., with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF); (3) Forum members are actively and effectively disseminating information about NCES and the Forum; (4) the Forum is an invaluable partner as NCES develops data handbooks and other resources; and (5) Forum members are spearheading state pilot projects investigating new approaches to collecting and reporting education data-e.g., Delaware, Missouri, and Wyoming are using the extensible markup language (XML) in a pilot Common Core of Data (CCD) reporting project.

William Wooten, the Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, then informed Forum members of changes in data reporting that will be taking place within the U.S. Department of Education. He stated, for example, that multiple definitions for the same data elements are "on their way out" as are "stovepipe" collections, paper reporting, and segregated program funding and reporting.

Finally, Hugh Monaghan, Director of Non-Fiscal Audits for the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Education, presented "How to Survive an Audit" (51 KB PPT file--please note, you may require a PowerPoint viewer to view this file. Click here for more information.). He explained to the audience the types of audits to which federally-funded entities are subject, described what to expect during an audit, suggested ways to prepare for an audit, and shared his opinion on how to work effectively with auditors during an audit.

Round table discussions were conducted on several issues of significance to Forum members. In the Race/Ethnicity Tabulations discussion, participants were informed that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) expects the Bureau of the Census to release its race/ethnicity tabulation categories in April 2001; however, implementation of these new categories will not be mandated until 3 years after the classifications have been made available (i.e., for reporting the 2004-2005 school year). The Joint OCR-OSEP Data Collection round table focused on a pilot effort to collect civil rights and special education/disability data concurrently. This joint collection is expected to be an optional component of the 2002 Civil Rights Survey. It is expected to produce more accurate data and reduce the collection burden on respondents. Participants in the Interagency Data Sharing round table learned that there has been a change to the "memorandum of agreement clause," which effectively expands the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to other agencies and thereby increases opportunities to share information between state and local agencies. The How to Use Forum Promotional Materials session demonstrated procedures for requesting, assembling, displaying, and returning the Forum Booth (and associated Forum materials) at local, state, and national conferences, while the Crime & Violence discussion centered on the work of the Crime, Violence and Discipline Task Force and its effort to explain how crime data at the school level could be used to inform efforts to improve school safety. Finally, the Integrated Performance Benchmarking System (IPBS) group discussed accountability, definitions, and standards at the six-month benchmark, noting that there are differences in state and federal reporting requirements for local education agencies (LEAs). The group then discussed a process by which common information could be collected on student programs.

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Standing Committee News

National Education Statistics Agenda Committee (NESAC)

NESAC Chair Kelly Powell (Arizona Department of Education) began proceedings by receiving an update from the Crime, Violence and Discipline Task Force Co-Chairs Annette Barwick (School District of Hillsborough County, FL) and Bill Smith (Sioux Falls School District, SD). They reported that the task force was currently revising and updating the 1996 Forum publication Recommendations of the Crime, Violence, and Discipline Reporting Task Force. The group has also been working on a new chapter that will address the use of education data to prevent school violence. A draft of the document will be available by spring 2001. Linda Champion (Florida Department of Education) then described the status of the Education Finance Data Task Force. The group will have a draft of the revised Financial Accounting Handbook for Local and State School Systems (also known as Handbook 2R2) available for review by the July 2001 Summer Forum Meeting.

Patty Murphy (Utah State Office of Education) and Oona Cheung (CCSSO) then announced that the Education Facilities Task Force had nearly completed the process of defining its data elements. Public review of the Basic Education Facilities Data Elements will take place during spring 2001. Next, Roger Young (Haverhill Public Schools, MA) requested official NESAC approval for the formation of a School Facility Maintenance Task Force. The goal of the group would be to develop best practice guidelines for local education staff regarding the planning of school maintenance activities. Mr. Young explained that this activity would serve as an application of the valuable recommendations being developed in the Basic Education Facilities Data Elements publication. After ensuring that project overlap would be negligible, NESAC approved the request and forwarded the recommendation to the Policies Programs, and Implementation Committee.

Barbara Clements (Evaluation Software Publishing) then presented a plan to create an NCES Institution Handbook (see Kickoff of NCES Education Institution Handbook). Several NESAC members volunteered to participate in the development effort. Next, Steve Lazer and Madeline Goodman of the Education Testing Service demonstrated the features and functions of the new National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) website. These improvements include updated search engines and tools that allow users to create ad hoc reports throughout the search process. Jennifer Manise and Carl Andrews (CCSSO) then discussed the NAEP state profiles project, in which a "mega database" of several existing databases will be developed in order to create the most comprehensive state survey of its kind. Indicators will include Title I, Science, and Mathematics, and thereby provide valuable contextual information for achievement results. Ms. Manise and Mr. Andrews expected to complete their review of outstanding state profiles, confirm the validity and expediency of their model, and maintain the quality control of their data by the Summer Forum Meeting. NESAC members indicated that this project would be very well received by the education data and assessment communities and encouraged CCSSO to proceed with putting the information on the Web.

Finally, NESAC considered suggestions for issues that might appear on future meeting agendas, including standardized testing data, outcome data (e.g., graduation rates), definitions and classifications of a "school", a national education data model, data coordination, linkages across Forum/NCES products, and data comparability among states. A subcommittee was established to discuss agenda options via e-mail and report back to the entire Committee in July 2001.

Policies, Programs, and Implementation (PPI)

PPI Chair Nick Stayrook (Fairbanks Public Schools, AK) opened the session with an announcement from Ghedam Bairu and Mary McCrory (NCES) regarding the recipients of NCES FY2001 Special Projects/Task Order Awards. The awards, ranging from $50,000 to $80,000, went to the following Departments of Education: Connecticut for Improving State-Federal Data Collection and Reporting (Common Core of Data, Student Disciplinary Offenses, and Certified Staff); Iowa for Conversion of Project EASIER EDI Record Processing from a Client-Side, Application-Based Model to a Server-Side, Web-Based Model; Hawaii for Improving the Quality & Timeliness of Special Education Data Reported to the US Department of Education; Michigan for Development and Implementation of Electronic Validation and Automated Secure Transfer of Educational Data; and Pennsylvania for Education Geographic Information System (GIS). Ms. Bairu also announced that the FY2002 Task Award application deadline will be September 15, 2001. Applications, which will be available via the Forum website in early July 2001, are to be submitted electronically. Ms. Bairu also noted that deliverable reports submitted by past Task Order recipients can be found on the Web at http://nces.ed.gov/forum/map.asp.

PPI then discussed revision of the Forum Policies and Procedures Manual. PPI anticipates finalizing its recommendations for revising Forum policies and procedures at the Summer 2001 Forum Meeting. PPI also received a request from NESAC to form a School Facility Maintenance Task Force. After confirming that the proposed task force was in alignment with Forum Goals and Objectives, and did not overlap unnecessarily with other Forum task forces, the measure was approved.

Dennis Powell (Illinois State Board of Education) then reported that there have been changes to several pieces of privacy-related legislation, including the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). PPI's final order of business was a discussion of Race/Ethnicity Tabulations, hosted by Edith McArthur (NCES).

Technology, Dissemination & Communications(TD&C)

TD&C Chair Raymond Yeagley (Rochester School Department, NH) welcomed participants to the meeting and proceeded to request reports from TD&C task force representatives. John Clement (ESSI) responded with an update on the progress of the Technology in Schools Task Force, which is working to produce recommendations for collecting data on technology in schools. He reported that while the content for the Technology in Schools Handbook is largely settled, the document is undergoing improvements to its organization and readability. Mr. Clement expects that a draft will be ready for review in spring 2001 and that a completed document will be presented to the Forum in July 2001.

Mr. Yeagley, also the Chair of the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) Task Force, informed TD&C that the EDI Task Force had completed its work, and had prepared a list of final recommendations for TD&C. These included: (1) engage all stakeholders in discussions about electronic exchange of education records; (2) formally recognize that electronic exchange of data is central to the Forum's mission; (3) enhance communication between postsecondary and K-12 institutions regarding electronic exchange; (4) create a subcommittee of TD&C to facilitate these recommendations and explore issues related to a broader view of electronic records exchange than just the EDI protocol; (5) create a written record to assist clients in implementing electronic exchanges-e.g., case studies of successful implementations and discussions of other issues such as security; (6) continue to encourage federal resources for support of electronic exchange through seed money to states, personnel exchanges between states, and continued support for the CHARLOTTE server; and (7) continue to support federal involvement in the development of standards for electronic exchange of education records-e.g., through membership in the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF).

Barbara Andrepont (Louisiana Department of Education) then shared her thoughts on SIF, which is being developed by the software industry to enable interaction between different software platforms. She noted that schools and districts in Florida, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania are currently installing and testing SIF-compliant software in order to demonstrate the concept. The next issue on the TD&C agenda was the use of the Forum Booth. To date, fewer Forum members have displayed the Booth at local, state, and national conferences than had been anticipated. TD&C agreed that a concerted effort should be made to remind Forum members of the effectiveness of the Forum Booth as a communication tool and the ease with which it can be requested, received, assembled, displayed, and returned. Forum members interested in displaying the Booth can reserve it through the Forum website or by contacting Westat at (301) 738-3509.

TD&C then entertained a suggestion to support the work of local and state education agencies by developing best practice Web publishing guidelines. Several options were considered, including the creation of a Web page of Frequently Asked Questions and the development of a document (paper and electronic) similar in style and tone to Technology @ Your Fingertips to address Web page construction and management issues relevant to K-12 education organizations. A subgroup of TD&C has been convened to explore the issue via e-mail prior to the Summer Forum Meeting.

Joe Rose (NCES) reported on an NCES pilot test of an extensible markup language (XML) conversion server for Common Core of Data (CCD) collections. Wyoming, Missouri, and Delaware are participating in the pilot. Outcomes of the exercise will be presented at the Summer Forum meeting in July 2001. Finally, TD&C Vice Chair Terry Bergner announced that she was resigning her position as the Forum state representative from Rhode Island. Blair Loudat, the Forum LEA representative from North Clackamas School District (OR), was elected to carry out Bergner's term.

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Kickoff of NCES Education Institution Handbook
(2000 Edition)

The National Center for Education Statistics has kicked off the development of an Education Institution Handbook to complement the current series of NCES-sponsored data handbooks that include the Student Data Handbook for Elementary, Secondary, and Early Childhood Education (2000 Edition); Staff Data Handbook for Elementary, Secondary, and Early Childhood Education; and Financial Accounting for Local and State School Systems. The development of this new handbook will be coordinated by the Council of Chief State School Officers. It will focus on defining data elements about public and private education institutions such as schools, school districts, intermediate agencies, and state education agencies. Although data elements about schools and other institutions are sometimes included in the other handbooks as they relate to student, staff, and financial records, it is anticipated that several new topics will be addressed in this handbook, including program information, food services, administrative activities, and certain technology and facilities issues. Questions about the Education Institution Handbook can be directed to Barbara Clements (Evaluation Software Publishing) at bclements@evalsoft.com or (703) 836-2348.

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Forum website: New and Improved

The Forum website has recently been revised to reflect the realization that it is both a mechanism for promoting Forum activities and a tool for Forum members and other interested parties to exchange information and ideas about education data. Improvements include a Working Groups page intended to facilitate communication within the Forum. It includes membership information, contact information, and past meeting notes for all Forum Standing Committees and Task Forces. Similarly, there is a new State Initiatives page, which contains two novel features on the Forum site. The first is a State Performance Reports Online Survey that identifies and describes state and local education report cards accessible over the Web. The second is a set of end-of-project summaries submitted by states and extrastate jurisdictions as deliverables upon the completion of NCES Special Project/State Task Order Awards.

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Texas Assessment Conference Learns About Forum

Forum member Mike Strozeski, the Executive Director of Research for the Garland (TX) Independent School District, displayed the Forum Booth at the 15th Annual Texas Assessment Conference in Austin on February 11-14, 2001. Approximately 1,000 district testing coordinators, research directors, guidance counselors, and principals attended the conference and were introduced to the Forum and its numerous resources. Mr. Strozeski set up the booth ("by myself - no assistance was needed") alongside a notebook computer with the Forum Powerpoint slide show that he had downloaded from the Forum website. (Note that you may require a PowerPoint viewer to access this file: click here for more information.) He said of the experience, "The booth was not continuously manned, so it didn't take a lot of my time to explain about NCES or the Forum. I was surprised that so many people were unaware of the many resources available through NCES. People were also happy to hear that the materials were easy to obtain and, of course, that the price was right-free!"

Mr. Strozeski added, "The logistics related to the use of the NCES booth could not have gone better. It is an incredible engineering marvel! The booth is extremely easy to set up and take down. The container with the booth was at the hotel when I arrived, and I only had to fill out the mailing forms to send it back." The Forum Booth is available to Forum members for use at local, state, and national conferences on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Booth Request Form (PDF 98 KB) is available on the Forum website or from Susan Rittenhouse at Westat at (301) 294-2056.

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MIS 2001: Quality Data ~ Quality Decisions in Orlando

On February 26-28, 2001, the Florida Department of Education joined NCES to sponsor the 14th annual Management Information Systems (MIS) Conference in Orlando, Florida. The conference title, "Quality Data, Quality Decisions", underscored the meeting's emphasis on not only collecting data, but also using information to improve education decisionmaking. Conference host Lavan Dukes of the Florida Department of Education challenged the opening session attendees to focus on the sometimes uncomfortable task of dealing with the quality of data collected, rather than the tools available for doing the collecting. Craig Luigart, Chief Information Officer at the U.S. Department of Education, presented an inspiring Keynote Address about the changing role of technology in education data collection and use at the national level. The following morning, Glenn Mayne, Chief Information Officer for the Florida Department of Education, described his agency's efforts to reengineer the management of education information at the state level. Finally, Bruce Friend, Chief Academic Officer at the Florida Online High School, described how Florida has been at the forefront of providing online course instruction to high school students for more than 5 years. He explained both the management strategies (e.g., developing agreements with school districts for awarding course credit) and technical necessities (e.g., Web partnerships) associated with teaching more than 5,000 students over the Web in Florida annually. In addition to these general sessions, the MIS Conference offered more than 50 concurrent sessions, including several of particular interest to Forum members: A Blueprint for Collecting School Facilities Data; Expanding the Scope of Education Data: The Creation of the NCES Institution Handbook; Technology @ Your Fingertips: Version 2.0a; and Virginia's Electronic Discipline, Crime, and Violence Data Collection System.

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Upcoming Events

Summer Forum Meeting * Washington, DC * July 23-25, 2001 * Ghedam Bairu
NCES Summer Data Conference * Washington, DC * July 25-27, 2001 * Mary McCrory
NCES Fellows * Washington, DC * November 5-9, 2001 * Mary McCrory

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Newsletter Information

The Forum Voice is released both as a paper document and an electronic publication that is available at http://nces.ed.gov/forum/. To subscribe to the electronic version, visit the NCES News Flash. To subscribe to the paper document, contact Susan Rittenhouse at rittens@westat.com or (301) 294-2056. To contact the Forum, browse: http://nces.ed.gov/forum/; e-mail: Ghedam Bairu; fax: (202) 502-7475; or write: NCES-Forum, 1990 K Street, NW, Room 9095, Washington, DC 20006-5651.

Please share all comments and questions at Ghedam Bairu.

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2000-2001 Forum Officers


Forum Chair: Andy Rogers, Los Angeles Unified (CA)
Vice Chair: Lavan Dukes, Florida Department of Education
Past Chair: Dori Nielson, Montana Office of Public Instruction
NCES Staff: Ghedam Bairu
NESAC Chair: Kelly Powell, Arizona Department of Education
Vice Chair: Bethann Canada, Virginia Department of Education
NCES Staff: Beth Young
PPI Chair: Nick Stayrook, Fairbanks Public Schools (AK)
Vice Chair: Ronald Danforth, New York State Education Department
NCES Staff: Ghedam Bairu
TD&C Chair: Raymond Yeagley, Rochester Schools (NH)
Vice Chair: Blair Loudat, North Clackamas School District (OR)
NCES Staff: Lee Hoffman

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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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