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The Forum Voice: Spring 2004 (Volume 7, No. 1)


Contents

Editorial Board
SIF Joins Forum as an Associate Member
Working with the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF)
Forum Website Revised
New Resource: NCES Handbooks Online
New Resource: Financial Accounting for State and Local School Systems, 2003 Edition
New Resource: Forum Guide to Protecting the Privacy of Student Information
Forum Establishes Exit Codes Task Force
FY 2004 Task Order Awards
2004 Summer Forum Meeting and Data Conference
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

SIF Joins Forum as an Associate Member

The Forum welcomed the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF) as its newest associate member during the Winter 2003 Forum meeting. SIF is a non-profit membership organization comprised of over 100 software vendors, school districts, state departments of education and other organizations active in primary and secondary (K-12) education. In recent years, SIF has brought its members together to create a set of platform independent, vendor neutral rules and definitions for sharing education information. It is envisioned that, when implemented in a school, district, or state education agency, these “SIF Implementation Specifications” will help education institutions improve information accuracy and timeliness, reduce redundancy and data entry error, minimize software compatibility issues, and save money. To learn more about SIF, visit http://www.sifinfo.org.

Schools Interoperability Framework

The Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF) is honored to become a formal member of the National Forum on Educational Statistics as we collectively move to redesign the "system" of education.  Quality education relies on professional educators and parents having access to accurate information to serve learners of all ages. Stakeholders must have access to state-of-the-art tools and up-to-date information to foster an effective and efficient learning environment.  SIF's vision is that schools will become better able to utilize technology in a manner that leverages the capabilities of a broad spectrum of instructional, administrative, and communication tools. SIF is proud to be a partner with the National Forum on Education Statistics in this vital task and hopes to provide support to the Forum for years to come.

– Larry Fruth, SIF Executive Director

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Working with the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF)

At the Winter 2004 meeting, Barbara Andrepont, the NCES Liaison to the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF), submitted her recommendations about the prospect of future Forum work with SIF. The following is a summary of her suggestions to help direct Forum efforts.

 The Forum should…

  • Use SIF as a mechanism for engaging private sector companies that develop and support education software so that there is a more direct exchange of perspective between the Forum and the vendor community.
  • Inform SIF members about NCES and Forum resources, especially NCES Handbooks. Periodic reports on the Handbooks will increase the likelihood that SIF members will use NCES and Forum resources as tools when developing new products.
  • Engage SIF members (e.g., the SIF Technical Board and Education Advisory Panel) when reviewing or maintaining the NCES Handbooks. SIF members may provide valuable feedback during Forum product development and review.
  • Provide electronic versions of NCES data elements and definitions to SIF. Electronic files will minimize the likelihood of incorrect or incomplete transfer of terms and definitions in SIF products.
  • Share best practices and data quality strategies with SIF members. The SIF Education Advisory Panel, User Group, and Marketing Work Group are particularly attentive to these issues.
  • Support active Forum participation in SIF workgroups so that state and district perspectives can be represented. For example, task order funds have been, and should continue to be, available to support school district and regional service center staff participation in SIF.
  • Designate specific individuals on SIF workgroups to communicate with NCES and Forum representatives about NCES Handbooks, data elements, definitions, and best practices. Consider establishing a formal channel (e.g., a listserv) for Forum and SIF communications.
  • Coordinate Forum and SIF meetings to improve and expand communication between the organizations and their members. Participants will be more likely to attend and benefit from Forum and SIF meetings when sessions and schedules are coordinated. Additionally, joint sessions will promote direct communications between NCES, Forum, and SIF representatives.

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Forum Website Revised
Forum Website Banner

Changes are on the horizon for the Forum website! The site, which can be found at http://nces.ed.gov/forum, has grown in both content and complexity since it was last revised four years ago. This revision hopes to adopt a “less is more” philosophy, meaning that it will introduce more white space and easier to navigate pull-down menus. Forum members and outside visitors alike can expect to see a new banner and header, one-page summaries of all Forum publications with links to related materials (e.g., executive summaries, Power Point presentations, and published articles), and a Members’ Corner with Forum promotional materials, cooperative contract management guidance, listserv instructions, and detailed descriptions of local and state education agency liaison responsibilities. Expect to see site updates introduced throughout the late spring and early summer. Revision of the full site should be completed prior to the Summer Forum Meeting (July 26-28, 2004).

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New Resource: NCES Handbooks Online

Handbooks OnlineThe NCES Handbooks define standard education terms for students, staff, schools, local education agencies, intermediate education agencies, and state education agencies. They are intended to serve as reference documents for public and private organizations (including education institutions and early childhood centers), as well as education researchers and other users of education data. In order to improve access to this valuable resource, NCES has developed the NCES Handbooks Online, a web-based tool that allows users to view and download Handbook information via an electronic table of contents, a drill down finder, element name and first letter searches, and advanced query options. Improved access will increase the utility of the Handbooks and decrease translation errors when users are able to copy rather than key text into their own data systems. Access the NCES Handbooks Online tool or obtain a PDF version of its content through the NCES Electronic Catalog or by calling 1-877-4ED-PUBS.

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New Resource: Financial Accounting for State and Local School Systems, 2003 Edition

Financial Accounting for State and Local School Systems, 2003 Edition NCES, the National Forum on Education Statistics, and the Education Finance Task Force are pleased to release Financial Accounting for Local and State School Systems: 2003 Edition. This NCES Handbook is designed to be the national standard for state departments of education when reporting financial data and for school districts when preparing comprehensive annual financial reports (CAFRs). The 2003 Edition contains guidance reflecting the Governmental Accounting Standards Board Statements (through Statement 39). There are chapters on budgeting, governmental accounting, and financial reporting. Moreover, account codes have been updated to reflect changes in the new reporting requirements and developments in technology and security. There is also a chapter on student activity fund accounting and a model for school level program cost accounting. Use of Financial Accounting for State and Local School Systems, 2003 Edition will help to ensure that education fiscal data is reported across the nation in a consistent and comprehensive manner. This publication is available through the NCES Electronic Catalog or by calling 1-877-4ED-PUBS.

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New Resource: Forum Guide to Protecting the Privacy of Student Information

Forum Guide to Protecting the Privacy of Student Information NCES, the National Forum on Education Statistics, and the Forum Student Privacy Task Force are pleased to announce the release of the Forum Guide to Protecting the Privacy of Student Information: State and Local Education Agencies (NCES 2004-330). The Guide presents a general overview of privacy laws and professional practices that apply to information collected for, and maintained in, student records. The document also provides an overview of key principles and concepts governing student privacy, summarizes Federal privacy laws and recent changes, identifies issues concerning the release of information to both parents and external organizations, and suggests good data management practices for schools, districts, and state education agencies. This publication is available through the NCES Electronic Catalog or by calling 1-877-4ED-PUBS.

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Forum Establishes Exit Codes Task Force

According to the 2003 state site visits conducted by the Performance Based Data Management Initiative (PBDMI), many states are now reconsidering whether and how they collect student-level dropout data. To implement such systems, these states, and others who might consider similar initiatives in the future, will need a thorough and well-considered list of student-level exit codes.

In response to this need, the Forum has established the Exit Codes Task Force, which hopes to identify standards and principles of good practice in the collection and reporting of K-12 completion and dropout data. The task force expects to produce a guide that will be aimed at both state and district audiences—specifically those individuals responsible for collecting and reporting completion and dropout data. The document will also serve as a resource for Federal agencies, researchers, and others interested in student leaver codes.

As currently envisioned, the guide will contain examples of exit codes and a crosswalk to leaver categories. It may also include models for high school completion and dropout analysis. Other aspects of exit coding, including enrollment status, will also be considered. The task force hopes to share a first draft of the guide at the 2004 Summer Forum Meeting and complete the document by the 2005 Summer Forum Meeting.

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FY 2004 Task Order Awards

NCES is proud to announce the recipients of the FY 2004 State Cooperative System Task Order Awards. The awards, which are available to state education agencies and can range up to $80,000, are intended to support initiatives that improve federal-state cooperation in data collection, processing, analysis, and reporting. Proposals for FY 2005 awards will likely be due on August 15, 2004.

FY 2004 Task Order Recipients

Enabling Relevant School-Level Data Reporting
Hawaii Department of Education (Tom Saka)

Modification of Enterprise Data Model to Include Longitudinal, Student-Level Data
Kansas State Department of Education (Sherrill Martinez)

Accessing Legacy Data through Modern Technology
Michigan Department of Education (Oren Christmas)

Electronic Data Collections Phase II
North Dakota Dept. of Public Instruction (Dave Larson)

Develop and Implement Guidelines for Improving Data Use and Reporting Capacity Vermont Department of Education (Brad James)

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2004 Summer Forum Meeting and Data Conference

The 2004 Summer Forum Meeting and NCES Summer Data Conference will be held in Washington D.C. at the Mayflower Hotel during the week of July 26-30, 2004. The Summer Forum Meeting will precede the Data Conference on Monday and Tuesday that week. As always, the events promise to offer unparalleled opportunities to share information about high profile data issues affecting schools, school districts, and state departments of education across the nation. Meeting registration and logistics for both the Summer Forum Meeting and the Data Conference are available at the NCES Conference/Training Connection.

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Upcoming Events Contact
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
Winter 2005 Forum Meeting
New Orleans, LA * February 21-23, 2005
Ghedam Bairu
18th Annual MIS Conference
New Orleans, LA * February 23-25, 2005
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

 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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