the National Forum on Education Statistic’s e-Newsletter
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Forum Events

3/6/14 Forum WebEx: Ambient Positional Instability
This WebEx featured research by Bob Boruch, University Trustee Chair Professor of Education and Statistics at the University of Pennsylvania. In his presentation, “Ambient Positional Instability in Education Systems: What We’ve Planned, What We’ve Learned in the First Quarter, and A Request,” Bob discussed the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded research he is undertaking with Joseph Merlino, Andrew Porter, and the API Project Group on ambient positional instability (API) in schools. His presentation highlighted the project’s background, implications, and aims. Questions and observations from Forum members included topics such as options for gathering teacher attrition and mobility data; details about what’s needed from LEA project participants; and sensitivity concerns about making this finely-grained data publicly available.

3/11/14 TECH Virtual Meeting: School Climate Survey
NCES presented a new web-based data collection platform for the School Climate Surveys (SLCS) to the members of the Forum’s Technology Committee (TECH). The SCLS is a series of surveys measuring school climate for teachers, students, and parents in middle and high school. This is a free, standardized, web-based tool, intended to produce comparable results across schools, districts, states, and across the nation. Questions from TECH members included topics such as customizing the survey, linking it to other surveys or assessment results, extracting responses for in-house analysis, the length of the surveys, and the survey field testing process.

4/9/14 Joint Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Appalachia and Forum WebEx: Managing Research Requests in a Local Education Agency (LEA)
This REL Appalachia WebEx featured three speakers. Christina Tydeman from the Hawaii Department of Education discussed the benefits of developing a data access framework and reviewed the core practices and operations discussed in the Forum Guide to Supporting Data Access for Researchers: A Local Education Agency Perspective. Robert Rodosky, Chief Executive Director, Office of Data Management, Planning, and Program Evaluation Services at Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS), led a discussion on his district’s efforts to implement the ideas, tools, and resources provided in the Forum guide. Establishing a way to process data requests has led JCPS to create meaningful research partnerships with education stakeholders. Finally, Julie Kochanek, Director of Research at REL Northeast and Islands (REL NEI), highlighted the Toolkit for Districts Working with External Researchers located on the REL NEI website. Listeners asked questions of the presenters on topics including LEA Institutional Review Boards; requirements that might affect data sharing; and challenging aspects of data access management systems.

4/10/14 Forum Virtual Meeting: Assessment Consortia Updates
This virtual meeting focused on the Race to the Top Assessments. Wes Bruce of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), Jessica McKinney of the U.S. Department of Education, and Brandt Redd of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) provided updates on the assessments to Forum members. Tom Purwin, Vice Chair of the Forum, introduced the panelists and facilitated questions from attendees. Forum members asked several questions on a variety of topics connected to the assessments, such as: test retakes, planning for states as they transition to the new assessments, SBAC field tests, data reporting features for teachers and administrators, future support from the consortia to participating states, and anticipated challenges for districts and states in delivering the assessments.

4/23/14 Forum LEA Virtual Meeting: School Climate Survey
This Forum LEA Virtual Meeting featured updates on the development of the School Climate Surveys (SCLS) research tool at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Isaiah O’Rear, NCES, facilitated the discussion for Forum LEAs to offer feedback about the planned survey process, focusing on administration, implementation, and execution of the surveys. Forum members asked several questions about the SCLS on topics such as survey software, generating reports, research methods, cost to LEAs, survey length, and survey customizability.

4/28/14 Forum Virtual Meeting: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Indicators
This Forum WebEx highlighted the recent work of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Research Council (NRC) on STEM Indicators. Lee Rabbitt (RI) introduced the presenters, Jessica Mislevy and Barbara Means, both from SRI International. Barbara led the discussion to gather feedback on the STEM Indicators. Forum members offered comments on the process of parsing out information on STEM programs, the relevancy of STEM programs, incorporating School Courses for the Exchange of Data (SCED), and producing generalizable results.

Upcoming: NCES Summer Forum and STATS-DC 2014 Data Conference, “Informed Decision-Making, Powered by Data”
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), will sponsor a 2.5-day meeting of the membership of the National Forum on Education Statistics immediately followed by the 2014 NCES STATS-DC Data Conference.


The 2014 NCES STATS-DC Data Conference is an opportunity for professional networking, updates on federal and national activities affecting data collection and reporting, and information about the best new approaches in collecting, reporting, and using education statistics. The conference will include training and business meetings for state Common Core of Data (CCD) and EDFacts data coordinators. There will also be a range of informative sessions targeted toward interests in CCD, data collection, data linking beyond K-12, data management, data privacy, data quality, data standards, data use (analytical), data use (instructional), and fiscal data, as well as information about changes in how the U.S. Department of Education collects and uses data.


The meeting will be July 28 – August 1, 2014, at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC. For more information go to http://ies.ed.gov/whatsnew/conferences/?id=1204&cid=2.

Editorial Board

Thomas Purwin, Jersey City Public Schools (NJ)
Jan Petro, Colorado Department of Education
John Kraman, Oklahoma State Department of Education
Michael Hopkins, Rochester School Department (NH)
Ghedam Bairu, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education

School Courses for the Exchange of Data (SCED) Version 2.0 and Forum Guide to SCED Classification System

School Courses for the Exchange of Data (SCED) Version 2.0 and Forum Guide to SCED Classification System School Courses for the Exchange of Data (SCED) is a voluntary, common classification system for prior-to-secondary and secondary school courses that can be used to compare course information, maintain longitudinal data about student coursework, and efficiently exchange course-taking records. SCED includes elements and attributes that identify basic course information and that can be adopted and adapted to meet the specific needs of education agencies. In March 2014, the Forum released SCED Version 2.0 Course Codes and related resources, available at http://nces.ed.gov/forum/SCED.asp. SCED Version 2.0 includes

  • new and updated course codes, titles, and descriptions in Subject Area 5: Fine and Performing Arts, renamed to Visual and Performing Arts;
  • new and updated course codes, titles, and descriptions for Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses in multiple Course Subject Areas;
  • new and updated Advanced Placement (AP) courses in multiple Course Subject Areas; • new course attributes that are not part of the SCED Framework, but can be used to provide expanded course information; and
  • new Course Subject Area codes for prior-to-secondary courses that match secondary Course Subject Area codes.

The Forum Guide to School Courses for the Exchange of Data (SCED) Classification System accompanies the release of SCED Version 2.0 Course Codes. This new guide includes an overview of the SCED structure and descriptions of the SCED Framework elements, recommended attributes, and best practices for new and existing users on implementing and expanding the use of SCED. Information included in the guide builds upon previous work, including the 2007 document, Secondary School Course Classification System: School Codes for the Exchange of Data and the 2011 prior-to-secondary SCED expansion.

Overview: Regional Education Laboratories (REL) Research Alliances

The Regional Education Laboratories (REL) Research Alliances are voluntary groups of state, district, or other education stakeholders who share a common challenge related to education and seek to use data and research to address that challenge. The REL, as a participant and sometimes as a convener of these groups, provides assistance in developing research agendas, articulating research questions, and answering those questions. Each REL has between 4 and 10 research alliances that it is working with at any given time. Some research alliances have long histories of collaborative work while others have developed more recently in response to a regional need. The group of research alliances that a REL works with may change over time or may last for years depending upon when each alliance’s needs have been fully met. New alliances may come into existence based on the identification of needs in a REL region. Eighty-five percent of REL work is required to be associated with alliances.

There are currently 72 research alliances across the 10 RELs, and each has a particular issue as their focus. Alliances may have members from a single state or from multiple states within the REL’s region. Thirty-one alliances are comprised of members from a single state, 40 alliances are comprised of members from multiple states in the REL’s region, and one alliance’s membership comes from a single school district.

Many of the research alliances across the REL Program are organized around similar topic areas, including college and career readiness, dropout prevention, rural education, teacher effectiveness, and early childhood education. Other alliances are focused on issues that are more regionally-specific, such as the Bureau of Indian Education High School Alliance with REL Northwest, the Native American Education Research Alliance with REL Central, and the Mid-Atlantic Historically Black Colleges and Universities Alliance with REL Mid-Atlantic.

Examples of research alliances include:

  • An Alliance between REL Midwest and the state of Ohio, known as the Dropout Prevention Research Alliance: Improving student graduation rates is a statewide priority in Ohio. This alliance focuses on increasing graduation rates and on reducing persistent disparities in graduation and dropout rates among student subgroups. Short-term goals of the alliance are to identify locally valid predictors of student dropout in a set of pilot districts and to build and implement comprehensive early warning systems based on those indicators. Work proposed in the upcoming year will serve the alliance’s longer-term goal of scaling up early warning systems in ways that allow evaluation of the efficacy of well-implemented early warning indicator systems. This alliance has recently expanded to include stakeholders from Indiana and Michigan who are interested in validating early warning indicators in their states. For more information, go to: http://www.relmidwest.org/research-alliances/dropout-prevention-research-alliance.
  • An Alliance between REL Pacific and the Freely Associated States (FAS), known as Optimizing Data Readiness in the Freely Associated States: This alliance is dedicated to mapping the ways in which data in the freely associated states flow through the educational system, how they are interpreted, and how they influence decision making. The alliance began and will continue its work in the FAS where these challenges are the most acute. For more information, go to: http://relpacific.mcrel.org/alliance5.html.
  • An Alliance between REL Pacific and the state of Hawai’i, known as the Hawai‘i Partnership for Educational Research Consortium: The Hawai‘i Partnership for Educational Research Consortium (HPERC) Research Alliance, is intended to bridge education data from Preschool to K–12 to college and career by identifying and filling critical gaps in the State of Hawai‘i’s Statewide Longitudinal Data System implementation plan and by assessing progress on the alignment and integration of student identifiers within early childhood educational centers, public and private K–12 schools, and the University of Hawai‘i system (including all state community colleges). To strengthen Hawai‘i’s data system implementation, this alliance will work toward improved communication, training, and technical assistance offerings to stakeholders throughout the state. For more information, go to: http://relpacific.mcrel.org/alliance6.html.
  • An Alliance between REL Northwest and the state of Alaska, known as the Alaska State Policy Research Alliance (ASPRA): ASPRA provides a forum for policymakers, researchers, and other constituents to collectively examine evidence-based solutions to education challenges in the state. Members are particularly focused on the priority need of preparing students for postsecondary success. ASPRA's goals are to build common awareness and knowledge of research evidence about college and career readiness; increase the capacity of Alaska Department of Education & Early Development (EED) staff to conduct high-quality research and to share the evidence with legislators and other stakeholders; and increase the use of evidence and research in making education policy decisions. For more information, go to: http://educationnorthwest.org/rel-northwest/rel-research-alliances/aspra.
  • An Alliance between REL Northwest and the state of Idaho, known as the Idaho System of Recognition, Accountability, and Support (ID SRAS) Research Alliance: REL Northwest is partnering with Idaho State Department of Education, state technical assistance providers, and school districts to conduct, interpret, and communicate research evidence relating to the priority need of school improvement. The ID SRAS alliance also seeks to build the capacity of its members to make more informed decisions about improving low-performing schools. For more information, go to:http://educationnorthwest.org/rel-northwest/rel-research-alliances/id-ssos.

PTAC Guidance: Protecting Student Privacy While Using Online Educational Services: Requirements and Best Practices

The U.S. Department of Education's Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) has released a new resource, Protecting Student Privacy While Using Online Educational Services: Requirements and Best Practices, to clarify questions related to student privacy and the use of educational technology in the classroom.

Recent advances in technology and telecommunications have dramatically changed the landscape of education in the United States, and today’s classrooms increasingly employ online interactive educational technologies and services to help foster and enhance the learning process. While these technologies have the potential to transform the educational process, they also raise new questions about how best to protect student privacy.

The U.S. Department of Education developed this resource to assist schools and districts in following legal requirements and best practices when evaluating the use of online educational services. The resource addresses a range of concerns regarding the security and privacy of student data, such as: "What does the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) require if personally identifiable information from students' education records is disclosed to a provider?" and, "Do FERPA and the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) limit what providers can do with the student information they collect or receive?" 

Forum Working Groups

Alternative Socioeconomic Status (SES) Measures Working Group
The Forum’s Alternative SES Measures Working Group continues with its work to consider alternative measures of socioeconomic status (SES). The document under development provides encyclopedia-type entries for 15 different SES measures and, as such, will help readers better understand the implications of collecting and interpreting a range of SES-related data in education agencies. More specifically, it strives to

  • explain the context in which SES data are collected and used in administrative records systems in the education community, including why the National School Lunch Program’s free- and reduced-price meals/lunch (FRPM/FRL) eligibility indicator is becoming progressively less suitable as a proxy for an individual student or family’s SES status; 
  • describe the benefits, challenges, limitations, and applications of possible SES alternatives, as well as recommended practices for adopting and implementing new SES elements in education agencies and data systems; 
  • emphasize standard definitions and calculations for SES measures in order to encourage comparability; and 
  • highlight examples of appropriate use and common misuse of SES measures.

The document focuses on the needs and possible solutions for administrative records in education data systems and does not reflect the full spectrum of opportunities available to the research community. This new Forum resource is expected to be released in spring 2015. More information on the Working Group is available at  http://nces.ed.gov/forum/alternative_ses.asp.

College and Career Ready (CCR) Working Group
Many states are working to prepare students to be college and career ready. The CCR Working Group is exploring how to contribute to state efforts to define these terms, and identify how data might contribute to the efforts, including how to measure, collect, store, report, and act on college and career ready data. This work is focused on practical and actionable information and will be grounded in the needs of the Forum members. Thus far, the working group has had several web meetings and an in-person meeting in Washington, DC in May 2014. The group intends to complete a document by fall 2014. More information is available at http://nces.ed.gov/forum/college_and_career.asp.

SCED Review Panel
Course offerings and course descriptions evolve over time. SCED must reflect up-to-date course offerings to remain relevant, and updates must be implemented in a manner that maintains the structure and integrity of the established SCED standard. While developing SCED Version 2.0, the SCED Working Group outlined an annual process for reviewing SCED user-recommended updates, working with subject matter experts to implement needed revisions, and publishing updated SCED versions. SCED Version 3.0 revisions are currently in development, and will focus on three main priorities:

  1. 1. Updating standardized courses, including International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, and Project Lead the Way.
  2. 2. Revising Family and Consumer Sciences Courses and adding new courses.
  3. 3. Identifying courses from NCES Transcript Studies that should be added to SCED. This includes any courses in the Classification of Secondary School Courses (CSSC) that need to be added to SCED to facilitate NCES research.

The Review Panel is also considering additional recommendations submitted by SCED users for courses in other subject areas. SCED Version 3.0 Course Codes and additional resources will be released on the Forum’s SCED webpage at http://nces.ed.gov/forum/SCED.asp

Virtual Education Working Group

Rapid advancements and innovations in virtual education are providing education agencies, educators, and students with new opportunities for teaching and learning. In 2006, the Forum published the Forum Guide to Elementary/Secondary Virtual Education, which examined the role of virtual education in the K12 environment, provided a review of terminology, discussed the importance of high-quality virtual education data, and suggested modifying traditional data elements and systems to better capture virtual education data. The virtual education environment has grown in ways unanticipated in 2006, and the Forum convened the Virtual Education Working Group to explore new facets of virtual education and identify new virtual education data collection challenges. The group will develop a new resource that offers best practices for state and local education agencies.

Forum Events

3/6/14 Forum WebEx: Ambient Positional Instability

This WebEx featured research by Bob Boruch, University Trustee Chair Professor of Education and Statistics at the University of Pennsylvania. In his presentation, “Ambient Positional Instability in Education Systems: What We’ve Planned, What We’ve Learned in the First Quarter, and A Request,” Bob discussed the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded research he is undertaking with Joseph Merlino, Andrew Porter, and the API Project Group on ambient positional instability (API) in schools. His presentation highlighted the project’s background, implications, and aims. Questions and observations from Forum members included topics such as options for gathering teacher attrition and mobility data; details about what’s needed from LEA project participants; and sensitivity concerns about making this finely-grained data publicly available.

3/11/14 TECH Virtual Meeting: School Climate Survey

NCES presented a new web-based data collection platform for the School Climate Surveys (SLCS) to the members of the Forum’s Technology Committee (TECH). The SCLS is a series of surveys measuring school climate for teachers, students, and parents in middle and high school. This is a free, standardized, web-based tool, intended to produce comparable results across schools, districts, states, and across the nation. Questions from TECH members included topics such as customizing the survey, linking it to other surveys or assessment results, extracting responses for in-house analysis, the length of the surveys, and the survey field testing process.

4/9/14 Joint Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Appalachia and Forum WebEx: Managing Research Requests in a Local Education Agency (LEA)

This REL Appalachia WebEx featured three speakers. Christina Tydeman from the Hawaii Department of Education discussed the benefits of developing a data access framework and reviewed the core practices and operations discussed in the Forum Guide to Supporting Data Access for Researchers: A Local Education Agency Perspective. Robert Rodosky, Chief Executive Director, Office of Data Management, Planning, and Program Evaluation Services at Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS), led a discussion on his district’s efforts to implement the ideas, tools, and resources provided in the Forum guide. Establishing a way to process data requests has led JCPS to create meaningful research partnerships with education stakeholders. Finally, Julie Kochanek, Director of Research at REL Northeast and Islands (REL NEI), highlighted the Toolkit for Districts Working with External Researchers located on the REL NEI website. Listeners asked questions of the presenters on topics including LEA Institutional Review Boards; requirements that might affect data sharing; and challenging aspects of data access management systems.

4/10/14 Forum Virtual Meeting: Assessment Consortia Updates

This virtual meeting focused on the Race to the Top Assessments. Wes Bruce of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), Jessica McKinney of the U.S. Department of Education, and Brandt Redd of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) provided updates on the assessments to Forum members. Tom Purwin, Vice Chair of the Forum, introduced the panelists and facilitated questions from attendees. Forum members asked several questions on a variety of topics connected to the assessments, such as: test retakes, planning for states as they transition to the new assessments, SBAC field tests, data reporting features for teachers and administrators, future support from the consortia to participating states, and anticipated challenges for districts and states in delivering the assessments.

4/23/14 Forum LEA Virtual Meeting: School Climate Survey

This Forum LEA Virtual Meeting featured updates on the development of the School Climate Surveys (SCLS) research tool at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Isaiah O’Rear, NCES, facilitated the discussion for Forum LEAs to offer feedback about the planned survey process, focusing on administration, implementation, and execution of the surveys. Forum members asked several questions about the SCLS on topics such as survey software, generating reports, research methods, cost to LEAs, survey length, and survey customizability.

4/28/14 Forum Virtual Meeting: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Indicators

This Forum WebEx highlighted the recent work of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Research Council (NRC) on STEM Indicators. Lee Rabbitt (RI) introduced the presenters, Jessica Mislevy and Barbara Means, both from SRI International. Barbara led the discussion to gather feedback on the STEM Indicators. Forum members offered comments on the process of parsing out information on STEM programs, the relevancy of STEM programs, incorporating School Courses for the Exchange of Data (SCED), and producing generalizable results.

Upcoming: NCES Summer Forum and STATS-DC 2014 Data Conference, “Informed Decision-Making, Powered by Data”

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), will sponsor a 2.5-day meeting of the membership of the National Forum on Education Statistics immediately followed by the 2014 NCES STATS-DC Data Conference.

The 2014 NCES STATS-DC Data Conference is an opportunity for professional networking, updates on federal and national activities affecting data collection and reporting, and information about the best new approaches in collecting, reporting, and using education statistics. The conference will include training and business meetings for state Common Core of Data (CCD) and EDFacts data coordinators. There will also be a range of informative sessions targeted toward interests in CCD, data collection, data linking beyond K-12, data management, data privacy, data quality, data standards, data use (analytical), data use (instructional), and fiscal data, as well as information about changes in how the U.S. Department of Education collects and uses data.

The meeting will be July 28 – August 1, 2014, at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC. For more information go to http://ies.ed.gov/whatsnew/conferences/?id=1204&cid=2.

Newsletter Information

The Forum Voice is released as an electronic publication. 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.

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.