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The Forum Voice: Spring 2005 (Volume 8, No. 1)


Contents

NCES Statewide Longitudinal Data System Grants
NCES State Education Data Profiles Tool
NCES News Flash Subscription Service
Forum Unified Education Technology Suite Recognized by eSchool News
Ohio Department of Education Chief Commends Forum Publication
On the Horizon. . .
    The Forum Guide to Education Indicators
    Exit Codes Task Force
    Virtual Education Task Force
    New Task Force! Decision Support Literacy
Summer 2005 Forum Meeting and NCES Data Conference
Forum Strategic Planning
Winter 2005 Forum Meeting and the 18th Annual NCES MIS Conference
Raymond Yeagley: I'm a Data Junkie
Upcoming Events
2004-2005 Forum Officers
Newsletter Information
Links to Past Issues of the Forum Voice

Editorial Board

Bill Smith, Sioux Falls School District (SD)
David Uhlig, Charlottesville City Public Schools (VA)
Susan VanGorden, Lakota Local School District (OH)
Bertha Doar, Rockwood School District (MO)
Ghedam Bairu, National Center for Education Statistics

NCES Statewide Longitudinal Data System Grants

The U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences has recently announced a $24.8 million appropriation for a grant program to assist States as they design, develop, or implement statewide, longitudinal data systems. This is a competitive grant program for which State Education Agencies (SEAs) may apply.

The purpose of the grant program is to help SEAs efficiently and accurately manage, analyze, disaggregate, and use individual student data. Statewide, longitudinal data systems should:

  • enable States to generate data needed to comply with reporting requirements in an accurate and timely manner
  • facilitate research that improves student learning and closes achievement gaps
  • promote linkages across States
  • help protect student privacy.

Applications must be submitted by 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time on June 30, 2005. The earliest anticipated start date for funded proposals will be November 1, 2005. For more information about the grant program, visit the Statewide Longitudinal Data System Grants page, or contact Kashka Kubzdela at Kashka.Kubzdela@ed.gov or (202) 502-7411.

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NCES State Education Data Profiles Tool

NCES has recently released a new Web tool for searching state level education data, including basic elementary and secondary education characteristics, school finance, postsecondary education, and selected demographics for all states in the nation. The tool, called the State Education Data Profiles, allows users to view data from up to four states at a time and compare the states data against each other and U.S. national averages. The tool also generates graphics that enhance data analyses and presentation. Visit the State Education Data Profiles page to access this powerful research tool.

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NCES News Flash Subscription Service

The NCES News Flash Subscription Service is an e-mail-based communications tool designed to help users learn about new NCES activities, publications, and web tools. News Flash is a "custom" service that allows subscribers to select specific topics they want to receive information about, such as NCES Conferences/Trainings/Workshops, the Common Core of Data (CCD), Crime and Safety in Schools, Education Finance Statistics, and the National Forum on Education Statistics. All News Flash notices contain a brief description of the relevant news item and a link on the NCES website where more information can be accessed. Subscribers need a valid e-mail account to join News Flash. Visit the NCES News Flash page to subscribe to News Flash or learn more about this e-mail-based news system.

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Forum Unified Education Technology Suite Recognized by eSchool News

The newly released Forum Unified Education Technology Suite was recognized as the Leadership "Pick of the Month" in the eSchool News and its companion website, eSchool News Online. A monthly print and web news source, eSchool News supplies information needed to help K-20 decision-makers successfully use technology and the Internet to transform schools and colleges. Together the print newspaper and website serve an unduplicated audience of more than 340,000 executive educators—many of whom may have read the headline "Get nearly a decade's worth of ed-tech expertise in one place" that accompanied an article about the Forum publication.

The Forum Unified Education Technology Suite presents a practical, comprehensive, and tested approach to assessing, acquiring, instituting, managing, securing, and using technology in education settings. It will also help educators who lack extensive experience with technology develop a better understanding of the terminology, concepts, and fundamental issues influencing technology acquisition and implementation decisions.

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Ohio Department of Education Chief Commends Forum Publication

Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Tave Zelman acknowledged the importance of the Forum Guide to Building a Culture of Quality Data during her address to the Ohio Association of EMIS Professionals (OAEP) at their Annual Spring Conference on May 1, 2005. The OAEP Conference was attended by approximately 500 Ohio school district and data acquisition site staff who are responsible for submitting accurate EMIS (Education Management Information System) data to the state department of education.

During her remarks, Dr. Zelman asserted that the "wonderful publication" supported her belief that "good data are critical to teaching, learning, and managing our schools." She highlighted the Guide's guidance for superintendents, principals, school board members, office staff and others with regard to the roles they play in generating high quality education data. Before concluding her address, Dr. Zelman referred to the Guide as "a document that I hope all OAEP members—and all of your districts—have taken the time to read."

Dr. Zelman also took time to publicly recognize Forum member Susan VanGorden (Lakota Local School District, Ohio) for serving on the Forum task force that developed the document, as well as for representing Ohio in Forum-related national education data activities.

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On the Horizon. . .


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The Forum Guide to Education Indicators

The Forum Guide to Education Indicators is in the final steps of the publication process and should be released as a paper document and online later this summer. The document provides encyclopedia-type entries for 44 commonly used education indicators. Each entry contains a definition, recommended uses, usage caveats and cautions, related policy questions, data element components, a formula, commonly reported subgroups, and display suggestions. The Education Indicators Task Force hopes that the document will help readers better understand how to appropriately develop, apply, and interpret education indicators. The Forum Guide to Education Indicators will be available on the Forum publication page as soon as it is completed. For more information, visit the Education Indicators Task Force page.

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Exit Codes Task Force

In the fall of 2005, the Exit Codes Task Force expects to complete its publication, Transfer or Dropout? A Taxonomy for Standard Student Exit Codes. The task force's goal is to construct an exit code taxonomy for states and districts that would account for 100 percent (and not 90 percent or 110 percent) of all students who were previously enrolled in the system. The resulting taxonomy incorporates six broad, yet mutually exclusive, categories—still enrolled in the district, transferred, dropped out, completed, not enrolled but eligible to return, and exiters—neither completers or dropouts—in addition to 23 subcategories. The document, which also offers best-practice guidance for establishing student-level exit codes in state and local education agencies, will undergo public review in early summer 2005. For more information, visit the Exit Codes Task Force.


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Virtual Education Task Force

The Virtual Education Task Force represents a cooperative effort among the Forum, the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), and the Schools Interoperability Framework Association (SIFA)—which are collaborating to align, modify, and develop definitions of education data elements to better meet the information and reporting needs unique to a virtual/distance education setting. All recommendations generated by the task force will be presented in a document that is currently under development. Task force members hope to have a draft of the document available for public review by October 2005. The final publication is targeted for release in April 2006. For more information, visit the Virtual/Distance Education Task Force page.


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New Task Force! Decision Support Literacy

Forum members can often be heard saying, "Good data lead to good decision making." We know it is true, but collecting, organizing, and presenting high quality data in a manner that supports decision making is easier said than done. To this end, the Forum's new Decision Support System Literacy Task Force hopes to help the education community better understand the components and features of decision support systems. Established in December 2004, the task force will develop paper and web-based resources that provide state and local education decision-makers with background information about decision support systems so that they are better prepared to question vendors and, subsequently, evaluate purchasing options prior to making investments in hardware and software. The tool will include a glossary of decision support system terms as well as anecdotal information that illustrates how decision support systems work and why they can be useful in an education data environment. It is not the intent of the task force to provide technical information about the development and maintenance of a decision support system, so the resource will focus more on concepts than specific brands and types of technologies. The task force hopes to complete its charge by late 2005. For more information, visit the Decision Support System Literacy Task Force page.

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Summer 2005 Forum Meeting and NCES Data Conference

The Summer 2005 Forum Meeting and NCES Summer Data Conference will be held in Washington D.C. at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel during the week of July 25-29, 2005. As always, the meetings 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. The deadline for registering for the meetings and reserving a hotel room is July 1, 2005. Visit the NCES Conference/Training Connection to register for the meetings, submit a presentation proposal, locate important logistical information, and download the conference brochure.

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Forum Strategic Planning

In keeping with the Forum's mission to "develop and recommend strategies for building quality education data systems," the Forum Steering Committee will conduct a strategic planning session at the Summer 2005 Forum Meeting in Washington, DC. The session will be the first step in a more comprehensive planning process aimed at identifying activities the Forum should be undertaking in order to achieve its mission and goals. Forum Vice-chair Bill Smith (Sioux Falls School District, SD) will facilitate the session, which will include an overview of the Forum mission and goals, the generation of guiding questions for Forum member consideration, and small group brainstorming. Later in the Summer Meeting, Forum standing committees will discuss the list of challenges and proposed activities generated during the session and identify at least three actions that can be undertaken (and achieved) by each standing committee in the ensuing six to twelve months. The Forum Steering Committee will coordinate action plans from its standing committees to minimize overlap. It will also consider whether the Forum Strategic Plan needs to be formally updated to reflect decisions made at the Summer 2005 Meeting.

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Winter 2005 Forum Meeting and the 18th Annual NCES MIS Conference

The National Forum on Education Statistics held its Winter 2005 Meeting in New Orleans , Louisiana on Monday and Tuesday, February 21-22, 2005. Highlights of the meeting included author and data consultant Michael Brackett's seminar on Data Quality Professional Development: Turning Bad Habits into Good Practices (PDF 164 KB), round table discussions led by current Forum task force chairs, and a panel of national virtual education experts who shared their thoughts on changes to traditional data elements and data systems that will become inevitable in a virtual education environment. Visit the Forum Meeting Notes page for more information about the Winter 2005 Forum Meeting.

Many Forum members also joined the more than 600 attendees at the 18th Annual NCES MIS Conference on Wednesday through Friday, February 23-25. Sessions of particular relevance to Forum members included: Virtual Education Demands Real Data, Update on the Course Code Classification Project, Schools Interoperability Framework: An Evolving Data Standard and Data Model, Exploring the EDEN Data Dictionary, FERPA and PPRA Requirements, Transfer or Dropout? A System for Standard Student Exit Codes, Handbooks Online: Version 2.0, and The Forum Unified Education Technology Suite. With so many sessions that relate directly to the mission of the Forum, Forum members will surely want to plan on attending the 19 th Annual NCES MIS Conference. It will be held in conjunction with the Winter 2006 Forum meeting during the week of February 20-24, 2006 in Orlando, Florida.

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Raymond Yeagley: I'm a Data Junkie

Raymond Yeagley (Rochester School Department, NH) offered the following report to the Forum from the Decision Support Literacy Task Force at the Closing Session of the Winter 2005 Forum Meeting.

Hi. I'm Raymond. I'm a data junkie.

I'm ready to tell my story.

I started using in '81. It seemed harmless at the beginning, but pretty soon, I was in over my head. In the 20 plus years since then, I've experienced it all: portal sharing, indicator overdoses, and, yes, I even bought some impure data off the street.

I've tried to quit a couple of times. First, I tried baseball stats chewing gum, but the Red Sox were still losing, so it left a bitter taste in my mouth. Then I used something stronger—an SPSS taper. But my addiction never tapered off.

But six months ago, I found what I think will be my salvation. And, best of all, I've learned that I don't really have to give up the data. It turns out my problem isn't data use, it's data purity and lack of support to manage my habit.

The answer is something called a decision support system, or DSS for short. I think it's a 12-, or maybe 13-, 14- or 15-step program. And, with your support—and I thank you from the bottom of my heart—we have formed the first chapter of the DSS Literacy Task Force.

In the DSS Task Force, I've met others, like me, and have learned that data use is okay, if it is:

  •   driven by a shared organizational vision; and
  •   supported by trained people using:
    •   complete data definitions; and
    •   organized tables and effective tools to enable users to:
      •   search for the truth; and
      •   make good decisions.

We're writing an evangelical book about DSS to help others who have our problem. We've met once as a task force. So far, we have a complete book outline done and expect the first draft by mid-March. The second draft will be received by the task force at a meeting in May, and the final publication will be on the web by the end of November.

If you're suffering from the same challenges, please remember, you don't have to recover from your addiction, just re-invent it.

Disclaimer:

Twelve Steps to Data Recovery and the Data Recovery™ trademark are owned by Nobody In Particular. The Twelve Step program has a standard deviation of 3 steps and a standard error of ±5 steps. Side effects may include mild drowsiness, loss of consciousness, partial understanding, or full enlightenment. If you experience any of these symptoms for more than four hours, please consult a statistician.

For more information, visit the Decision Support System Literacy Task Force page.

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Upcoming Events Contact
Summer Forum Meeting/NCES Data Conference Registration Deadline is July 1, 2005!
Summer 2005 Forum Meeting
Washington, DC * July 25-26, 2005
Ghedam Bairu
NCES Summer Data Conference
Washington, DC * July 27-29, 2004
Mary McCrory
Winter 2006 Forum Meeting
Orlando, FL * February 20-21, 2006
Ghedam Bairu
19th Annual NCES MIS Conference
Orlando, FL * February 22-24, 2006
Mary McCrory

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2004-2005 Forum Officers

Forum Chair:  

Blair Loudat, North Clackamas Schools (OR)

Vice Chair:   Bill Smith, Sioux Falls School District (SD)
Past Chair:  

Bethann Canada, Virginia Department of Education

Staff:   Ghedam Bairu, NCES
NESAC Chair:   Brad James, Vermont Department of Education
Vice Chair:   David Uhlig, Charlottesville City Public Schools (VA)
Staff:   Deborah Newby, CCSSO
PPI Chair:   Nancy Resch, New Jersey Dept. of Education
Vice Chair:   Susan VanGorden, Lakota Local School District (OH)
Staff:   Ghedam Bairu, NCES
TECH Chair:   Derrick Lindsay , Mississippi Department of Education
Vice Chair:   Bertha Doar, Rockwood School District (MO)
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

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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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