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The Forum Voice: Spring 2009 (Volume 12, No. 1)


Editorial Board
Welcome New Members
New Resources
Stimulus for Education Data Systems
New FERPA Guidelines
Winter 2009 Meeting Recap
Forum Task Force Updates
Upcoming Events
2008–09 Forum Officers
Newsletter Information
Links to Past Issues of the Forum Voice

Editorial Board

Linda Rocks, Bossier Parish Schools (LA)
David Weinberger, Yonkers Public Schools (NY)
Vince Meyer, Wyoming Department of Education
Patsy Eiland, Alabama Department of Education
Ghedam Bairu, NCES

Welcome New Members

At this year's Winter Meeting, the Forum welcomed fourteen new members. We look forward to working with them and to seeing them again at the Summer 2009 Forum Meeting in Bethesda, Maryland. The new members include:

Steve Canavero, Nevada Department of Education
Sheila Corey, Alaska Department of Education and Early Development
Edward Eiler, Lafayette School Corporation (IN)
David Feliciano, Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools (GA)
Tom Howell, Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information
Gayle Johnson, Illinois State Board of Education
Irma Jones, Tennessee Department of Education
David Person, Maine School Administrative District #54
Frank "Steve" Snow, North Dakota Department of Public Instruction
Randolph Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Education
Gary West, South Carolina Department of Education
Hans P. L'Orange, State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO)
Christopher Lohse, Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)
Nancy J. Smith, Data Quality Campaign (DQC)


New Resources

checkmark icon Education Datamodel ScreenshotEducation Data Model Version 1 (PK-12)—The Forum recently unveiled the Education Data Model Version 1 (PK-12). This product catalogues the data used in PK-12 education and describes the relationships among those data. It takes into account the processes associated with teaching, learning, and the business operations of education organizations. And, rather than focusing on aggregate-level data items (e.g. total number of teachers), the Model presents the granular information at the school and district levels (e.g. teacher ID). Users may refer to the Model for a variety of reasons. For instance, local educators, administrators, and technology directors can reference it for help in designing, selecting, or augmenting software or data systems. The Model can help software developers design programs that meet the education community's data needs. And, researchers can explore the Data Model to identify the types of data maintained by the education community. The Data Model website includes supporting documents, usage vignettes, a web-based tool for browsing the Data Model, and links to open source tools that can be used for viewing, exploring, and applying the Model. An introductory brochure entitled "Turn Education Data into Better Decisions for Your Students" is also available at EdPubs. An extension of the project, referred to as the National Education Data Model (NEDM), will be managed through the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) under contract with the U.S. Department of Education. To accomplish this task, CCSSO has assembled a team of content and technical experts, an Advisory Group from local, state, federal, association, and vendor organizations, and a PK-20 steering committee—all of which will collaborate to develop additional versions and capabilities, including an expansion into higher education data elements.
checkmark icon Every School Day Counts picture Every School Day Counts: The Forum Guide to Collecting and Using Attendance Data—The Forum is proud to announce the release of this new best-practice guide from the Attendance Task Force. This document
  1. explains why high-quality attendance data matter;
  2. creates a standard attendance taxonomy that defines "attending/present" and "not attending/absent," categorizes attendance codes in an exhaustive and mutually exclusive way, and supports improved attendance data quality and comparability between states and districts;
  3. identifies common challenges to collecting accurate and comparable attendance data, providing practical suggestions for addressing these obstacles; and
  4. demonstrates through real-life examples how detailed, accurate attendance data can supply actionable information to guide policy and procedural changes in schools, districts, and states with a goal of improving student attendance and performance.

Every School Day Counts: The Forum Guide to Collecting and Using Attendance Data is now available electronically for download and in print by mail order. An introductory brochure entitled "School's In! Introducing...Every School Day Counts: The Forum Guide to Collecting and Using Attendance Data" is also available at EdPubs.


Stimulus for Education Data Systems

On February 17, while Forum members worked at the Winter 2009 Meeting to improve the quality of education data, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Despite some debate between the House and Senate over whether to include funds for P-20 statewide longitudinal data system development and enhancement in the "stimulus package", the final version of the bill called for $250 million in federal spending to support state efforts to develop these systems. Expounding on this significant investment, the President said on March 10,

"Far too few states have data systems like the one in Florida that keep track of a student's education from childhood through college. And far too few districts are emulating the example of Houston and Long Beach, and using data to track how much progress a student is making and where that student is struggling – a resource that can help us improve student achievement, and tell us which students had which teachers so we can assess what's working and what's not. That is why we are making a major investment in this area that we will cultivate a new culture of accountability in America's schools."

The statewide systems specified in the bill are to include postsecondary and workforce information in addition to P-12 data. Applicants for the stimulus funds must provide assurances that the money will be used to improve the collection and use of data in accordance with the America COMPETES Act. That law outlines several data system requirements. It calls for LDSs to include various elements, such as student and teacher identifier systems and certain types of student and teacher information (e.g. privacy-protected student and teacher identifiers, student-level enrollment, demographics, program participation, test records, transcript information, enrollment in postsecondary remedial courses, etc.). It also requires alignment between P-12 and postsecondary data systems, as well as sufficient mechanisms to ensure data quality. The money will be appropriated via the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) through a new round of IES Statewide Longitudinal Data System competitive grants. A new request for applications is expected to be announced this spring with grant funds being awarded through the summer and fall of 2009.

New FERPA Guidelines

On December 9, 2008, final Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations were issued by USED. For further information about the final regulations, visit the Forum's FERPA Resources page and the Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) website. The Forum expects to have a representative from FPCO participate in the Summer 2009 Meeting to discuss the new guidelines.

Winter 2009 Meeting Recap

Seattle landscape

The Winter 2009 Forum Meeting took place in downtown Seattle, Washington from February 16–17. Dr. Jeffrey Wayman (University of Texas at Austin) kicked off Monday's meeting with a presentation on data systems and the "data-informed district." SEAs and LEAs convened for breakout sessions – states focused on privacy issues and FERPA and drafted questions to submit to Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) for discussion at the Summer Meeting, while district members spent additional time with Dr. Wayman to further explore ways to use data to improve local education. Tuesday's joint session brought together a panel of experts – Dr. Hans L'Orange (State Higher Education Executive Officers), Michael Sessa (Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council), and Nancy J. Smith (Data Quality Campaign) – to discuss PK-20 data sharing. The speakers provided various perspectives on progress made towards and issues surrounding alignment of PK-12 and higher education data systems. NCES Acting Commissioner Stuart Kerachsky concluded the meeting with an update on recent business and coming plans at NCES and the Institute of Education Sciences. He called on the education community to make better use of data to improve education and student achievement. Detailed meeting notes including joint sessions, standing committee meetings, and presentations are now available.


Forum Task Force Updates

checkmark icon Crisis Data Management Task Force—The Crisis Data Management Task Force is working on a product that will focus on the data items and management issues surrounding the displacement of students due to a crisis. It will present guidelines intended for use by elementary and secondary education agencies to establish policies and procedures for collecting and managing education data before, during, and after a crisis. This includes scenarios in which the agency is directly or indirectly (e.g., only receiving displaced students) impacted by a disaster. The task force plans to have a draft ready for public review in the next few months with possible Forum approval by the summer.

checkmark icon Data Ethics Task Force—The Data Ethics Task Force has completed the contents of its forthcoming Forum Code of Data Ethics. The product addresses ethical issues focused on the management and use of education data, with particular emphasis on individually identifiable student and staff data. It is intended for a broad audience in the education data community. Given the wide range of state statutes and regulations, the Code will be presented philosophically enough to allow it to both complement and be customizable to this broad range of circumstances. Conversely, supporting text will be specific enough to make ethical principles understandable and actionable for staff in an education organization. The task force expects to release its final product by the Summer 2009 Forum.
checkmark icon Longitudinal Data Systems Task Force—The Longitudinal Data Systems Task Force continues to advance a draft of its product, which will explore many of the issues related to the development of longitudinal data systems (LDS) (e.g. self and needs assessment, stakeholder involvement and feedback, communications, RFP writing, governance, growth models, etc.). Key concepts will be introduced, best practices offered, and additional resources compiled to help decisionmakers, education experts, and system developers design, implement, maintain, and use student-level LDSs. A draft portion of the guide was recently posted on the Forum website for review and the task force hopes to release its final product by the Winter 2010 Forum.
checkmark icon Metadata Task Force—With recent Forum review and approval of its forthcoming product, The Forum Guide to Metadata: The Meaning Behind Data, the Metadata Task Force expects to release its final document by the Summer 2009 Forum. With this product, the group aims to raise awareness and improve understanding of metadata, the "data about data" that help education agencies improve the quality of the data they maintain. The product will present best practice concepts, definitions, implementation strategies, and templates/tools for an audience of data, technology, and program staff in state and local education agencies.


Upcoming Events

Summer 2009 Forum Meeting in Bethesda Maryland picture   Summer 2009 Meeting
July 27–29
Bethesda, Maryland
Ghedam Bairu


2008–09 Forum Officers

Forum Chair: Bruce Dacey, Delaware Department of Education
Vice Chair:  Linda Rocks, Bossier Parish Schools (LA)
Past Chair: Susan VanGorden, Lakota Local School District (OH)
Staff:   Ghedam Bairu, NCES
NESAC Chair: Helene Bettencourt, Massachusetts Department of Education
Vice Chair:     David Weinberger, Yonkers Public Schools (NY)
Staff: Renee Rowland, NCES
Consultant: Maureen Matthews, CCSSO
PPI Chair: James Haessly, School District of Waukesha (WI)
Vice Chair:    Vince Meyer, Wyoming Department of Education
Staff:    Ghedam Bairu, NCES
Consultant: Beth Young, QIP
TECH Chair: Tom Purwin, Jersey City Public Schools (NJ)
Vice Chair:   Patsy Eiland, Alabama Department of Education
Staff: Tate Gould, NCES
Consultant: Tom Szuba, QIP


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.

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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