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The Forum Voice: Spring 2007 (Volume 10, No. 1)


Contents

Editorial Board
New Resources
Why EDFacts Matters to Local Education Agencies
Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC)
Forum Task Force/Working Group Updates
Summer 2007 Forum Meeting and NCES Summer Data Conference
Upcoming Events
NCES Announces FY 2007 Task Order Awards
2006–2007 Forum Officers
Newsletter Information
Links to Past Issues of the Forum Voice

Editorial Board

Susan VanGorden, Lakota Local School District (OH)
Linda Rocks, Bossier Parish Schools (LA)
Levette Williams, Georgia Department of Education
Kathy Gosa, Kansas State Department of Education
Ghedam Bairu, National Center for Education Statistics


New Resources


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State Customization Tool for the NCES Handbooks Online—The State Customization Tool for the NCES Handbooks Online is now available. Building on the existing structure and organization of the NCES Handbooks, this new tool allows states to add their own state-specific data elements, instances and options to the Handbooks database. Access the tool at http://surveys.nces.ed.gov/handbooksea/index.asp.

   
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Winter 2007 Forum Meeting Notes & Evaluation Summary—Notes from the 2007 Forum Meeting in Atlanta have been posted to the Forum website at http://nces.ed.gov/forum/winter_02_07.asp. This page contains summaries of all committee and task force meetings as well as highlights from presentations on new NCES initiatives, data demands on state and local education agencies after Hurricane Katrina, EDEN EdFacts progress, and the new NCES teacher salary survey. Along with these notes, take a look at the Evaluation Summary PDF file (108 KB) to find out what attendees thought of the proceedings.

   
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Member Handbook—Forum members interested in finding out about the organizationís purpose, organization, membership, member responsibilities, and resources will soon be able to reference all of these in a single document. A near final draft should be available online later this spring along with a print version, which will be mailed out to all new members.

   
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Forum Website Revision—The Forum site was recently treated to an update, which reorganized content and simplified navigation in addition to making it more easy on the eyes. The renovation was guided by substantial changes to NCES standards for website presentation and programming. Please review the new and improved look, at http://nces.ed.gov/forum and forward comments to Ghedam.Bairu@ed.gov.

   
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Outreach Toolkit—Spreading the word about the Forum and its products just got easier. Members can now access the Outreach Toolkit while planning presentations and other outreach activities about the Forum to present to or circulate among colleagues at gatherings such as at state- and district-wide conferences and meetings. This collection of support materials includes a one-page Forum Publication Overview containing abstracts and reference information for recent Forum publications, a set of individual publication abstracts, as well as a customizable PowerPoint presentation. This last item can be modified by members to focus on only those Forum publications that are of the most interest to their conferences and audiences.

   
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Forum Voting Tool—This new online tool will streamline Forum member voting on issues such as publication approvals and the adoption of new policies and procedures. This username- and password-driven instrument will produce fast and reliable vote tallies and will automatically generate reports on those results.

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Why EDFacts Matters to Local Education Agencies

EDFacts is a U. S. Department of Education (ED) initiative designed to collect state-reported elementary and secondary education data and place it at the center of policy, management, and budget decisionmaking. As such, EDFacts integrates data supplied to ED by state education agencies (SEAs) and will reduce the burden of duplicative collections placed on states and school districts.

As elementary and secondary education data on schools, districts, and states is submitted to EDFacts, redundant items and federal collections will be reduced and eliminated. In fact, EDFacts is now in the process of consolidating and reducing the burden of the data collections associated with the Individual with Disabilities Act (IDEA), the Consolidated State Performance Report, the Common Core of Data, and the Civil Rights Data Collection.

Local education agencies will see the benefits of this Federal-State partnership in the following ways: (1) common data definitions will be established to promote data interoperability; (2) state and district data collection burden will be reduced; (3) the overall quality and utility of elementary and secondary education data will improve; and (4) using higher quality and more easily accessible data will lead to better managed federal programs and discretionary grant applications over time. Although EdFacts is still under development, ED is confident that this unprecedented effort to consolidate federal collections, support online state reporting, improve accessibility, and encourage data-driven decisionmaking will benefit the entire education system—from schools to districts, state education agencies, and the U.S. Department of Education.

For more information about this important ED initiative, please visit the new EDFacts Web site at http://www.ed.gov/edfacts. This one-stop shopping site provides log-on screens for the EDEN Submission System and the EDFacts Reporting System (i.e., reporting and analytical tools). Additionally, the site provides more information about EDFacts, the Education Data Exchange Network (EDEN), and the EDEN Survey Tool, as well as access to the EDFacts newsletters, the Partner Support Center, the EDFacts Workbook, EDEN file specifications, release notes, and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the system.

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Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC)

The Education Information Management Advisory Consortium, or EIMAC, is the CCSSO initiative that advocates for state education agencies to reduce data collection burden and improve the overall quality of education data collected at the national level. While at first glance, EIMAC may seem quite similar to the Forum (including having many of the same members, having a comparable structure consisting of committees and task forces, and concerning itself with similar issues), there are a number of key differences that make the two organizations distinct, yet complementary bodies. First, EIMAC participation is paid for by states rather than the U.S. Department of Education, which funds participation in the Forum. In effect, while members work towards national goals when donning their Forum hats, they put their stateís interests first while working under EIMAC. Furthermore, while the Forum refrains from any type of advocacy, EIMAC members may promote positions as they see fit. EIMAC also does not include local education agency (LEA) representatives, leaving the Forum to act as the sole voice for the LEA community on issues concerning education data. And finally, while it does produce a white paper from time to time, EIMAC does not intend to develop publications for the larger education audience as the Forum does.

The differing work of EIMAC and the Forum is, in large part, complementary. And, when it comes to issues that are vital to the education data community, the participation of both organizations may be advantageous. For example, on matters such as modifications to race/ethnicity codes, EIMAC may advocate state positions on the subject while the Forum might offer the data community direction regarding best practices through publications and other resources. In this way, the overlapping work and membership of EIMAC and the Forum actually supplies an advantage rather than causing redundancy. More information on EIMAC can be accessed at by clicking here.

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Forum Task Force/Working Group Updates


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Data Quality Curriculum Task Force
The Data Quality Curriculum Task Force created a lesson plan and a set of instruction materials to assist in quality data training for LEA staff. This professional development curriculum was based on the recent publication, the Forum Guide to Building a Culture of Quality Data: A School and District Resource and has been posted on the Forum website. These new resources are expected to be available in print form by July 2007, at which time they will also be accessible online at http://nces.ed.gov/forum/pub_2005801.asp. For more information on the progress of the Data Quality Curriculum Task Force, please visit http://nces.ed.gov/forum/data_quality_curr.asp.

   
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PK–12 Data Model Task Force
This task force is currently developing a web-based product for a common data model based on the NCES Handbooks Online. The focus of this education data model will be on teaching, learning, and the business of school districts. Six task force subgroups, each studying a specific topic area, are at work performing detailed identification of data elements. Along with these data elements, the model will take into account data element categories, the education process, definitions and semantics, as well as relationships among data elements. And, in order to maximize the modelís utility for interested parties, the task force will also develop a methodology for utilizing, maintaining and communicating about the data model. The project is slated for completion by the summer of 2008. Until then, information on the progress of the PK-12 Data Model Task Force can be found at http://nces.ed.gov/forum/pk12_data_model.asp.

   
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Metadata Task Force
The Metadata Task Force is currently developing a draft document intended to serve as an informative guide to metadata, its uses and importance. Metadata, essentially data about data, can be used to improve the quality and use of data maintained in information systems. The task forceís publication, aimed at data, technology, and program staff in state and local education agencies will define best practice concepts, definitions, and implementation strategies; and will include templates/tools. The document is ultimately intended to enhance awareness and understanding of metatdata. For more information on the progress of the Metadata Task Force, visit http://nces.ed.gov/forum/metadata.asp.

   
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Race/Ethnicity Working Group
Supporting the U.S. Department of Educationís effort to revise the way state education agencies (SEAs) and local education agencies (LEAs) maintain, collect and report race/ethnicity data, the Race/Ethnicity Working Group will define best practices for collecting and storing race and ethnicity data at the state and local levels, as well as those for aggregating race and ethnicity data for federal reporting. To help agencies implement proposed federal changes to race/ethnicity data collection, the working group will develop a new tool, which is expected to reduce redundant efforts within and across states, improve data comparability, and minimize reporting burden. The first Race/Ethnicity Working Group meeting will be held on June 18–19 in Washington, DC. For more information on the Race/Ethnicity Working Group, visit http://nces.ed.gov/forum/race_ethnicity.asp.

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Summer 2007 Forum Meeting and NCES Summer Data Conference

Members of the Forum, including representatives from local, state, and federal education agencies, and national associations, will meet in Washington, DC from July 23–25 for the annual Summer Forum Meeting. The meeting will include discussions and work to improve the quality and use of elementary and secondary education data and will cover current task force work on topics such as curriculum data, metadata, and the development of a comprehensive data model for schools and school districts.

Immediately following the Forum Meeting, the Summer Data Conference will convene. From July 25–27, NCES will hold this event to facilitate professional networking, communicate updates on federal and national activities affecting data collection and reporting, and convey information about the best new approaches in collecting, reporting, and using education statistics. Information about how the U.S. Department of Education collects and uses data and updates on developments in electronic data standards for schools, school districts, and states will also be presented. In addition, half-day training sessions for Common Core of Data Fiscal and Nonfiscal coordinators, up to the minute presentations on NCESís survey and assessment programs, and overviews of developing statewide longitudinal data systems will all take place during the conference.

Visit http://ies.ed.gov/whatsnew/conferences/?id=235 to register for the meeting, submit a data conference presentation proposal, or view the conference brochure to find out more about the events, or how to reserve a hotel room or find your way to the venue.

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Upcoming Events

Summer 2007 Forum Meeting * July 23–25 in Washington, DC *
Ghedam Bairu

NCES Summer Data Conference * July 25–27 in Washington, DC *
Mary McCrory

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NCES Announces FY 2007 Task Order Awards

Continuing its ongoing effort to improve federal-state cooperation in data collection, processing, analysis, and reporting, NCES has selected three states this year to receive State Cooperative System Special Projects awards. These awards, which range up to $80,000, are available to state education agencies to help (1) develop and implement student identification systems in support of statewide information systems; (2) improve a state's ability to track and verify dropouts and transfers; (3) improve data quality assurance procedures at the state or local level; and (4) coordinate technical assistance or training for local education agencies in order to facilitate the adoption of state data collection and reporting systems.

This year, the FY 2007 State Cooperative System Task Order Awards went to:

  • Indiana Department of Education
    Data Dictionary Development

  • Kansas Department of Education
    Improving the Quality of Data Submitted by Kansas LEAs

  • Vermont Department of Education
    A Proposal to Enhance a Public Reporting Portal, School Performance Dashboards, and Data Quality Tests using Vermontís Shared State and District Education Data Warehouse

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2006–2007 Forum Officers


Forum Chair: Derrick Lindsay, Mississippi Department of Education
Vice Chair:  Susan VanGorden, Lakota Local School District (OH)
Past Chair: Bill Smith, Sioux Falls School District (SD)
Staff:   Ghedam Bairu, NCES
   
NESAC Chair: Sonya Edwards, California Department of Education
Vice Chair:     Linda Rocks, Bossier Parish Schools (LA)
Staff: Nzinga Damali-Cathie, CCSSO
   
PPI Chair: Robert Beecham, Nebraska Department of Education
Vice Chair:    Levette Williams, Georgia Department of Education
Staff:    Beth Young, QIP
 
TECH Chair: Jeff Stowe, Arizona Department of Education
Vice Chair:   Kathy Gosa, Kansas State Department of Education
Staff: Tom Szuba, QIP

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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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