David Weinberger, Yonkers Public Schools (NY)
Cheryl McMurtrey, Mountain Home School District 193 (ID)
Tom Howell, State of Michigan, Center for Educational Performance and Information
Peter Tamayo, Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
Ghedam Bairu, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education
The National Forum on Education Statistics is a community of experts, comprising representatives from local, state and national education agencies, as well as representatives from non-government agencies. The collective knowledge and experience of Forum members contributes to the comprehensiveness and expertise of Forum publications, but sometimes the Forum collaborates with other experts to access additional resources and knowledge that help to maximize the value and impact of Forum products. The success of these types of collaborative efforts is evident in the publication, Forum Guide to Crime, Violence, and Discipline Incident Data.
Historically, the Forum has been concerned with promoting best practices in the collection and reporting of crime data in schools. In 1996, the Forum published the Recommendations of the Crime, Violence, and Discipline Reporting Task Force. This was followed in 2002 by the publication of Safety in Numbers: Collecting and Using Crime, Violence, and Discipline Incident Data to Make a Difference in Schools. It was a review of this second publication by a group external to the Forum, the Discipline Data Working Group of the U. S. Department of Education, that initiated the changes and work that led to the publication of the Forum Guide to Crime, Violence, and Discipline Incident Data (2011). The Discipline Data Working Group reviewed the Forum's Safety in Numbers document to determine whether it was up to date and encompassed the elements necessary to meet federal reporting requirements. When gaps were identified, the group made suggestions for ways to make the document more comprehensive.
Following the U.S. Department's Discipline working group review, the Forum established the Crime, Violence, and Discipline Working Group, which included state and local education agency representatives from across the country. As the group worked toward this goal, the Discipline Data Working Group continued to provide guidance. The Discipline Data Working Group included representatives from U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Performance Information Management Service, the Office of the General Council and the National Center for Education Statistics.
Designed for use by school, district, and state staff, the Forum Guide to Crime, Violence and Discipline Incident Data publication will improve the effectiveness of efforts to collect and use disciplinary incident data, including reporting accurate and timely incident data to the federal government. While building upon the framework of the Safety in Numbers publication, this new resource delves further into how to design, implement, and manage an incident database, and offers best practices for presenting and reporting incident data. Because school safety is increasingly concerned with bullying, the new publication includes a reprint of U.S. Secretary of Education Duncan's letter regarding technical assistance on addressing bullying through policy. Moreover, data elements discussed throughout the Forum Guide to Crime, Violence, and Incident Data are mapped to elements collected under the following statutes:
The Forum Guide to Crime, Violence, and Incident Data represents a successful collaborative effort of the Forum and the Discipline working group of the U.S. Department of Education. As a result of this effort, the new publication provides up-to-date information on best practices and reduces data burden by mapping data elements from multiple federal reporting standards. Perhaps most importantly, it provides a straightforward description of how to address a common concern: collecting, managing, and using crime, violence, and discipline data. The publication is available.
The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE) is the newest federal member of the Forum. As a part of the U.S. Department of Education, NCEE supports and undertakes a wide range of education research activities, including evaluation, technical assistance, and the dissemination of information from evaluation and research. NCEE is also responsible for promoting the use of scientifically valid research in education. In addition to contributing to the Forum as a federal member, NCEE is collaborating with the Forum on the topic of data use. Discussions between NCEE, NCES, and the Forum revealed a shared concern regarding the need for guidance and best practices for sharing data with education researchers. NCEE and the Forum will work together to develop a new resource that focuses on facilitating the use of education data by researchers, including guidance on how researchers can request data and how institutions can initiate best practices for evaluating data requests, sharing data, and ensuring data privacy. Several SEA members of the Forum will bring their expertise in data sharing to the collaborative group.
As education institutions develop longitudinal data systems (LDSs), the ability to share information will depend upon the comparability, interoperability, and portability of data within and across these systems. One way education institutions can work toward these goals is by using common data standards in LDS development. The Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) is a collaborative effort to establish a key subset of education data elements. Eight Forum members (4 LEA and 4 SEA) were a part of the CEDS working group which published CEDS Version 1 in September, 2010. Forum members are continuing their representation on the CEDS Stakeholder Group for Version 2 with state higher education agencies, institutions of higher education, standards organizations, federal program offices, as well as national associations and foundations. In addition to K-12 elements, Version 2 of CEDS will also concentrate on the development of postsecondary and early childhood education data elements. As members of this important collaborative effort, Forum representatives will use their expertise to help design data elements that will bridge the data divide between secondary and postsecondary education.
The Forum periodically reviews the progress of CEDS and offers recommendations for the future development of the project. The wide network of Forum member affiliations promotes the dissemination of information about CEDS, and allows the Forum and NCES to share information on the development and implementation of CEDS throughout the country.
Education data are used to make decisions that impact many aspects of the education system, from determining whether schools make adequate yearly progress to charting growth models for students and linking student and teacher data for evaluations. The validity of these decisions depends in large part upon the quality of data analyzed. As state and local education agencies increasingly rely on data for decisionmaking, it is imperative that education data are timely and accurate. The current emphasis on the importance of quality data makes this an opportune time to review the Forum Curriculum for Improving Education Data: A Resource for Local Education Agencies. Published in 2007, this resource provides a curriculum for developing a culture of data quality in education institutions.
The curriculum is designed for trainers who instruct district and local staff on the production of high-quality data. Part I provides foundational data improvement lessons for anyone involved with data. These lesson plans begin by introducing a "culture of quality data" as a guiding concept for developing data systems. Then, the lessons provide instruction on assessing current data quality, classifying education data, and implementing security and confidentiality standards. Part II is designed specifically for data steward/coordinator training. Beginning with an overview of the responsibilities of this position, lessons provide instruction on understanding data flow and data cycles, creating data dictionaries and calendars, addressing errors, and validating and auditing data. Data steward lessons conclude with information on communication.
For information on how the Forum Curriculum for Improving Education Data: A Resource for Local Education Agencies (2007) has been adapted by a state education agency, please see Kansas' Data Quality Curriculum.
The intended audience of Forum products includes state and local education agencies, education data users and developers, researchers, and anyone interested in best practices in the field of education data—but the true test of a Forum product is its usefulness in the field. States and districts are encouraged to leverage Forum products to support their work, and to modify the products to suit local and state needs. All Forum products are available free of charge. Two examples of Forum products in use follow. In Jersey City, New Jersey, Forum member Tom Purwin used the Forum Data Ethics Online Course as a basis for developing ethics training for education data users, and in Kansas, Kathy Gosa used Forum products to develop a Data Quality Curriculum for staff in her state.
After developing the Forum Guide to Data Ethics (2010), the Data Ethics Working Group supported the development of an online course based on the publication. The online course included videos, activities, resources, and an assessment. Tom Purwin, Forum LEA representative from Jersey City School District in New Jersey, modified the Forum Data Ethics Online Course for use in his district. Moving the course content to another management system application allowed for changes such as altering the order of questions and answers. The district superintendent now requires that each staff member in the district who accesses data must complete and pass the modified course. At the Winter 2011 Forum, Tom reported that his district already had 300 successful course completions, and almost 800 staff members have enrolled in the course. For more information on Jersey City's Data Ethics Online Course, contact Tom (201) 413-6958.
Kansas has a history of successfully modifying Forum products to meet the needs of both the state and its districts. Kathy Gosa, Kansas' SEA representative to the Forum, promotes the use of Forum products in her state. In 2006, Kansas implemented a Data Quality Certification Program, referred to as the DQC. According to the Kansas Department of Education website, the purpose of the DQC is to offer "free, advanced professional development to school and district personnel in managing student data.
Kathy has cited a number of Forum products as contributing to Kansas' DQC, including the Forum Guide to Building a Culture of Quality Data: A School and District Resource (2005), the Forum Curriculum for Improving Education Data: A Resource for Local Education Agencies (2007), the Forum Guide to Data Ethics (2010), and the Forum Guide to Data Ethics Online Course. Now in its fifth year, the DQC has been tailored to meet the needs of the various data user groups in the Kansas educational system, including data coordinators, data entry staff, administrators, and program staff in assessments and accountability. In addition, a re-certification track allows data users to renew their certification yearly. Information on Kansas' DQC is available to other states through the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems Grant Program (SLDS) website. More information is also available at Kansas' Data Quality Certification webpage.
The Forum is pleased to welcome 21 new members. Some of these members participated in the Winter Meeting in February, and some will attend their first meeting in July. We look forward to working with them in the future.
- Forum Guide to Crime, Violence, and Discipline Incident Data
This guide updates information from the 2002 Forum Publication, Safety in Numbers: Collecting and Using Crime, Violence and Discipline Incident Data to Make a Difference in Schools. This updated document incorporates new best practices and recommendations from the U.S. Department of Education. More information on the process of updating the document can be found in Collaborating on Crime Data: Development of the Forum Guide to Crime, Violence, and Discipline Incident Data.
- Forum Guide to Ensuring Equal Access to Education Websites Websites
and other electronic information technology are an important way in which education institutions communicate with the public. To disseminate information widely, these resources must be accessible by many different people, including those with disabilities. In order to help state and local education agencies, as well as other education institutions make their technology accessible, NCES and the Forum will soon release the Forum Guide to Ensuring Equal Access to Education Websites. This resource reviews ways in which certain disabilities may impede web usage, describes legislation that mandates accessibility, recommends strategies for improving accessibility and complying with laws, and provides useful resources for education institutions implementing or improving accessibility standards.
- Prior-to-Secondary Course Classification System: School Codes for the Exchange of Data (SCED)
Published in January, 2011, this handbook established standardized codes for elementary and middle school courses. It is an extension of the 2007 publication, Secondary School Course Classification System: School Codes for the Exchange of Data (SCED). Each course code includes elements that identify the course description, course level, available credit or grade span, and whether the course is part of a sequence of courses. As states and districts establish longitudinal data systems, it is increasingly important that student transcripts and other records be easily transferrable. The use of standardized codes allows disparate education programs to easily and accurately transmit student data.
- Traveling Through Time: The Forum Guide to Longitudinal Data Systems (series)
The Forum is on the verge of publishing the final book in the Traveling through Time: The Forum Guide to Longitudinal Data Systems series. This book, which focuses on advanced longitudinal data system (LDS) usage, builds upon the steps for LDS implementation outlined in the first three books of the series. A description of the individual books follows:
Book I: What is an LDS?
This first book in the series focuses on LDS fundamentals. Targeted toward a broad audience of LDS stakeholders, the book provides a broad, basic understanding of LDSs, which is then built upon in later books in the series. Readers are provided with steps to take in developing an LDS, descriptions of LDSs and their uses, technical components of LDS development, clarification on common misconceptions about LDSs, and the benefits of LDS implementation and use. Appendices include references and resources for further information on LDS basics.
Book II: Planning and Developing an LDS
After establishing LDS basics in book one of the series, book two provides best practices for planning and developing an LDS. An initial discussion of the information and systems development life cycles provides a useful framework for guiding ongoing LDS efforts. A key element discussed throughout the book is stakeholder engagement, from initial LDS design through development, distribution, and evaluation, and the book provides useful information on garnering stakeholder support and involvement. Delving into the "nuts and bolts" of development, the guide includes best practices for assessing and defining needs, gaining buy-in and funding, working with vendors, and evaluating and refining the system.
Book III: Effectively Managing LDS Data
After completing books one and two of the Traveling through Time series, the reader understands what an LDS is, its use, how to gain support for LDS development, and how to design and implement an LDS. Book three focuses on the ongoing work of managing an LDS, including assigning responsibility for system governance and upkeep, establishing data quality controls, implementing standards, and protecting privacy and security. Best practices outlined in this book will contribute to a sound LDS that includes accurate, useful, and secure data. By ensuring data quality through LDS management, data users can be confident in using data to improve education systems.
Book IV: Advanced LDS Usage
This fourth and final book in the series builds upon the best practices developed in the earlier books, and instructs users on ways to effectively use the data gathered in LDSs. Beginning with a historical look at data use, the book discusses preconditions necessary for effective data use, summarizes the many uses of longitudinal data, offers tips for implementing effective training and professional development programs, and discusses the future of LDS development and use. Throughout the book, emphasis is placed on the importance of how data are used; it is not enough to collect and maintain data, these data must be appropriately and effectively utilized. Continuing a theme from the previous books, Book IV of the series includes a list of resources as well as timely, real-world examples to illustrate ways in which LDS data can be used to inform and improve education practices.
Data Use Working Group
The Forum is committed to improving the usefulness of elementary and secondary education data. Increasingly, education institutions are collecting quality, detailed data that can provide information on student learning and the success of educational practices. It is important that education stakeholders are prepared to effectively use these data to improve education. The Forum Data Use Working Group is in the process of developing a series of briefs, which together will provide a resource for education stakeholders on the ways in which education data can and should be used. Targeted audiences include educators, local education agency administrators, and state program staff. The briefs will provide practical information on the value of using education data to inform action, as well as guidelines for acquiring and developing the knowledge and skills necessary for effective analysis, interpretation, and use of education data. The Data Use Working Group is comprised of both SEA and LEA Forum members, to ensure that final products meet the needs of a wide range of education data users, and that the products provide a sound basis for practical data use.
The Forum convened on February 21st and 22nd in Austin, Texas, for the 2011 Winter Meeting. The opening session presentation focused on connecting K-12, early childhood, and workforce data. Joint sessions focused on a number of timely topics in education data: David Weinberger of Yonkers Public Schools in New York moderated a panel session focused on establishing and using the teacher-student data link; Melanie Muenzer of the U.S. Department of Education spoke about privacy issues; and Jeff Sellers of the SLDS Program's State Support Team spoke about the Public Domain Clearinghouse. Discussions in standing committees ranged from incident reporting to collecting data about bullying, the challenges and advantages of statewide data systems, and SEA- LEA data system coordination. The Forum was pleased to welcome new NCES Commissioner Jack Buckley to the Closing Session, where he presented on new and upcoming activities at NCES, including the U.S. Education Dashboard, the Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
Forum Chair: Kathy Gosa, Kansas State Department of Education Vice Chair: David Weinberger, Yonkers Public Schools (NY) Past Chair: Linda Rocks, Bossier Parish Schools (LA) NESAC Chair: Patricia Sullivan, Texas Education Agency NESAC Vice Chair: Cheryl McMurtrey, Mountain Home School District 193 (ID) PPI Chair: Laurel Vorachek, Anchorage School District (AK) PPI Vice Chair: Tom Howell, State of Michigan, Center for Educational Performance and Information TECH Chair: Lee Rabbitt, Newport Public Schools (RI) TECH Vice Chair: Peter Tamayo, Washington State Office of Superintendent
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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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.