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Winter Forum 2005 Meeting Notes


National Forum on Education Statistics
February 21-22, 2005
New Orleans, LA

Contents

Pre-Meeting Professional Development
Opening General Session
Closing General Session
Steering Committee Meeting Summary
NESAC Committee Meeting Summary
PPI Committee Meeting Summary
TECH Committee Meeting Summary


Pre-Meeting Professional Development

Monday, February 21, 2005

Data Quality Professional Development: Turning Bad Habits into Good Practices

This 3.5 hour session was delivered by data consultant, author, and speaker Michael Brackett.

  • "The natural state of data is to drift toward disorganization. Our job is to focus energy on preventing this."
  • Forum member participation was encouraged via six breakout session discussions toward the end of the presentation. The session was reconvened so that breakout groups could report on the education data challenges and possible solutions they brainstormed and discussed. Michael Brackett then entertained questions.
  • A PDF version of the presentation is available for review: Data Quality Professional Development: Turning Bad Habits into Good Practices. (PDF 164 KB)

Opening General Session

Opening and Welcome

Forum Chair Blair Loudat (North Clackamas Schools, OR) called the Forum to order, welcomed participants, shared opening remarks, and reviewed the agenda.

  • Blair requested that Forum members refocus their efforts to contribute materials to the Outreach Toolkit.
  • Blair shared Forum website statistics and concluded that in order to maintain and increase visibility, the Forum must continue to:
    • produce high quality publications
    • reach out to partners
    • think of useful web tools and web content
    • generate fresh and innovative web features

Panel Discussion: Virtual Education Data Issues

Forum Vice-chair Bill Smith (Sioux Falls SD School District) moderated a panel discussion about the current state and the future data demands of virtual education data. The panel consisted of:

  • Dr. Elizabeth Glowa, Coordinator of the Web-Based Learning Project, Maryland State Department of Education
  • Mike Matukaitis, Manager of Web-Based Education for "Academy PA" at the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
  • Jason Pugh, Assistant to the Executive Director, Mississippi State Board for Community and Junior Colleges
  • Greg Weisiger, Director of Teleproduction Services, Virginia Department of Education

The consensus was that education data systems will need to be adapted if they are to inform decision making about virtual education. Accomplishing this will require:

  • modifying some, though not all, existing data element definitions and codes
  • modifying the interpretation of some data elements
  • modifying policies and regulations governing education

Adjourn

The opening session was adjourned and Forum members went to standing committee meetings.


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Closing General Session

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

National Data Initiative Reports

  • Lee Hoffman (NCES) noted that there was not any new information to report about the status of the race/ethnicity coding options at the federal level. The topic will be addressed again at the Summer 2005 Forum Meeting.
  • Deborah Newby (CCSSO) shared an update about the U.S. Department of Education (ED) Data Information Working Group (DIRWG), which is an effort to leverage the Performance Based Data Management Initiative (PBDMI) collection and institute a common data dictionary and data architecture at ED. ED staff are in the process of comparing PBDMI data with ED program data that currently is collected. The topic will be addressed again at the Summer 2005 Forum Meeting.

Standing Committee Progress Reports

Task Force Reports

  • Decision Support Literacy: Co-chair Raymond Yeagley (Rochester Schools, NH) announced that the working group had been granted task force status. The group expects to produce a report by November 2005 that describes the concepts, components, and features of decision support systems for an education decision maker audience.
  • Exit Codes: Chair Wes Bruce (Indiana Department of Education) reported that the exit codes guide is nearly complete. A draft will be released for public review by early summer 2005. The task force expects to submit a completed product to the Forum for approval in July 2005.
  • Education Indicators: Chair Steve King (Wyoming Department of Education) announced that the Forum Guide to Education Indicators is undergoing final proofing and should be released in this spring.
  • Virtual Education: Co-Chair Derrick Lindsay (Mississippi Department of Education) reported that the task force is making progress with its work and expects to review a complete first draft of its product in April/May 2005.

Other Issues

  • Forum Vice-chair Bill Smith announced that the Data Quality Task Force had completed its charge. He and Chair Blair Loudat awarded certificates of appreciation to task force members for their fine work.
  • Forum Vice-chair Bill Smith invited Forum members to contribute to the update of the Forum Strategic Plan at the Summer 2005 Forum Meeting. Details about the Monday morning session will be sent prior to the meeting.
  • Forum Chair Blair Loudat announced that the Steering Committee had approved the formation of a Data Quality Curriculum Working Group.

Closing Remarks

  • Forum Chair Blair Loudat closed the Winter 2005 Forum Meeting by thanking Forum members for their commitment and hard work. She invited everyone to attend the Summer 2005 Forum Meeting in Washington, D.C. on July 25-27, 2005.

 

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Steering Committee Meeting Summary

Monday, February 21, 2005

Welcome and Introductions

Forum Chair Blair Loudat (North Clackamas Schools, OR) welcomed the Steering Committee to the meeting and the Winter 2005 Forum Meeting.

Review of the Forum Professional Development Presentation

The presentation was provided by data consultant, author, and speaker Michael Bracket and titled Data Quality Professional Development: Turning Bad Habits into Good Practices. (PDF 164 KB)

Virtual Education Panel Preparation

Planners confirmed that all was in order for the afternoon session.

Task Force Roundtable Discussion Preparation

Planners confirmed that all was in order for the Tuesday morning sessions. All active task force's will be hosting the 30 minute discussion sessions: Decision Support Literacy, Education Indicators, Exit Codes, and Virtual Education.

Strategic Planning

Forum Vice-chair Bill Smith (Sioux Falls SD School District) will lead a pre-meeting session at the Summer 2005 Meeting so that Forum members (rather than just the Steering Committee) have an opportunity to contribute to the organization's strategic plan. He envisions a 1.5 hour large group session followed by breakout groups that address specific guiding questions. The Steering Committee will revisit this issue throughout its spring teleconferences in preparation for the Summer 2005 Meeting.

Standing Committee Analysis

The question was raised: What is distinct about the three Forum Standing Committees (NESAC, PPI, TECH)? There has been more and more overlap in the committees' work over the past few years, which is not a bad thing, as long as it is purposeful. Perhaps this is an issue for Standing Committee chairs/vice-chairs to raise during committee meetings or as a part of the summer 2005 strategic planning.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

New Working Group

PPI approved a proposal from Lee Tack (Iowa Department of Education) to establish a Data Quality Curriculum Working Group, which hopes to develop curriculum modules for local education staff based on the best practices set forth in the Forum Guide to Building a Culture of Data Quality.

  • The Steering Committee approved the recommendation to form a Data Quality Curriculum Working Group.

Forum Outreach

Andy Rogers and Christina Saenz (ESSI) have been generating a list of organizations that the Forum may choose to contact as a part of its dissemination and outreach process. They are verifying the contact information and will share the list with the Steering Committee prior to initiating any calls (which could be done by them, Ghedam, or Steering Committee members).

Steering Committee Meeting Schedules

The Steering Committee may need to convene more than twice at each Forum meeting if it is to conduct all of its business. This raises scheduling issues. Ghedam will work on it while planning the Summer 2005 Meeting.

Forum Evaluations

Forum members were asked to complete a formal evaluation of the Winter 2005 Meeting.

More Strategic Planning

Bill Smith clarified some preliminary thoughts about the Summer 2005 Meeting:

  • The group event could be a brainstorming session followed by three standing committee breakout groups charged with prioritizing the list of brainstormed ideas for future standing committee work.
    • This could include standing committee role clarification.
  • Standing committee time during the balance of the Forum meeting would then include time to develop a plan to address the identified priorities.
  • Standing committees would ultimately be held accountable for whether they accomplish their priorities.
    • Priorities/plans should be kept achievable.
  • The Steering Committee would then accept the responsibility of integrating standing committee plans into the revision of the Strategic Plan.
    • This isn't necessarily a rewrite of the Forum Strategic Plan, but it might be.

Enhancing Forum Orientation Efforts

Although most new members join the Forum at the summer meeting, we need to offer some type of orientation at both Summer and Winter Forum Meetings.

  • Ghedam Bairu (NCES) will incorporate orientation activities into all future meeting agendas. The scope of the orientation efforts will depend on how many new members are expected to attend.

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NESAC Committee Meeting Summary

Monday, February 21, 2005

Welcome and Agenda Review

Brad James, NESAC Chair, opened the meeting. He circulated the roster for members to check for correct information, and a participant list. Brad reviewed the agenda for NESAC, noting changes, and reminded members of the joint afternoon session and roundtable discussions that would take place Tuesday morning.

Introductions

Brad explained that he would like to add another element to the introductions at this meeting. He requested that people introduce themselves, then express their views about where they see NESAC heading and what they see as the goals of the group.

  • Brad and David Uhlig (Vice-Chair) began the introductions. Brad stated he would like to see NESAC focus on data quality. David mentioned he would like to see more focus on decision support systems.

Comments and suggestions from other members included:

  • A desire to see NESAC educate SEAs and LEAs about the resources available through the committee and Forum
  • Encouragement to members to participate in task forces to enhance their committee experience
  • A suggestion that NESAC and the Forum focus on the practicality and cohesiveness of the data (e.g., data definitions, using among various levels, etc.)
A suggestion that those who enter the data be involved in conferences and trainings so they do not feel looked over and that they can receive support, training, and education on the uses of education data. On this point, one member suggested a handbook of sorts to teach data entry people how the data is used, who is using it, and why it is important.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Task Order Reports

  • Brad James (VT)—They are attempting to determine reporting capacity at the local level (e.g., how do they gather their data, house their data, etc.) To accomplish this, Vermont put out an RFP. A vendor responded, but wanted to make a product to sell, so they put out the RFP again. MSF&W from Illinois got the contract. The plan is to canvas six supervisory units to find out what’s going on. Brad would like to produce guidelines for best practices for storage, retention, and use of data and feasibility report on collecting school level data (including financial). Data administration is #1 priority. Vermont is also developing a targeted curriculum for districts to follow, talking about data, proper processes and storing it.
  • Carol Jones (MI)—subbing for Oren Christmas—Their task was to convert legacy database files and make them available via intranet and internet for internal use. They identified a statewide work group to advise on priority data sets. These included student data system tables and staff financial data. There was a delay in the project due to funds not being appropriated, and then time spent in securing a contractor. This has now been accomplished and the contractor has received background and historical information. They are trying to track changes in data collection and developing prototype for file documentation. During the summer they will be working to finalize file table structures and relationships to other systems and data sets, as well as documenting history and creating permanent storage.
  • Sherrill Martinez (KS)—Update on KIDS. This task order became part of a larger project to conduct a survey of vendors in the state that are gathering student data. Three vendors have about 80% of districts, but four districts still do everything on paper. Kansas also hired a contractor to help prepare a data warehouse that included student level data. The first goal is to get a system in place and housed, then design a data warehouse. It’s a two phase project. In Phase I, now – June 2005, they will assign unique ID to Kansas students. Then in Phase 2, they will start gathering data. For Phase 1, they have already identified an external advisory group, core project team, and subject matter experts. They developed several project-related documents including a communication plan. These documents are available to share on their project website http://KIDS.KSDE.ORG. They selected eScholar to generate an ID system, and they will begin with a pilot project. They are strongly encouraging the use of Social Security Number as a secondary identifier. In Kansas , the districts own all data. In Phase 2, they will begin the collection of individual student data. This process will involve vendor certification; all vendors do not have to participate, but they will keep track of those that do, and how well they do.

Task Force Reports

  • Performance Indicators, Steve King—The publication is completed and in production. The Task Force expects the PDF to be on the NCES website within 6 weeks.
  • Exit Codes, Wes Bruce—The exit codes task force participated in the roundtable discussions that morning. They are currently working on a first draft of the document. The task force completed a crosswalk of state exit codes to the task force’s taxonomy, then submitted the crosswalked information to states for review. The task force would also like to do an external review, hopefully in April. They would like feedback on its usability from those on the ground level. They plan to present the publication at the Forum meeting this summer, then put it through the Forum review process and have it published in the fall.

Data Quality Follow-up Discussion, Michael Brackett (Opening Session Presenter)

  • Linda Rocks of Louisiana began the conversation with a question for Michael concerning manual data entry, and ways to track forms that may be missed and never make it into a computer system. Michael’s response was to encourage them to create a good set of integrity rules that occur as close to the data source as possible. Michael also explained that the best way to handle manual entry is a very clear and concise instruction manual. He further encouraged the use of handwritten verification on the data forms, and periodic audits to check for accuracy. It’s important for data entry clerks to understand how the data will be used and why data quality is important. Michael encouraged members to create forms that are simple and logical in design to those entering the data.
  • David Uhlig continued the discussion by asking if most models that Michael has worked with are live data, or are in depots somewhere that are updated only once in awhile. Michael explained he has seen it all, but the ideal is to get a data warehouse where all data is housed and then take it from there for slicing and dicing. He explains this requires a robust architecture; he uses the exit codes project to illustrate how to use exit codes to create data architecture.
  • Another question was asked about posting LEA data on the web and the problems of doing that. Michael’s response was that if it’s there, someone will use it. He encouraged members to ask themselves, “Can you verify it, or put your stamp of approval on it?” He further encouraged them to make sure there are clear definitions and to include a disclaimer that these are the definitions and calculations used, any other use is not supported. Michael strongly discouraged putting unedited data on the web.

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Introductions, continued

Committee member introductions were continued from the previous afternoon. Committee members agreed that a key mission of the Forum should be to promote learning among LEA and SEA data staff. They also agreed that the Forum publications did not always get as widely disseminated as they should. A recommendation was made that a dissemination plan should be part of the initial 'request to form a task force.'

Steering Committee Report

Brad James reported on the Forum Steering Committee discussion from the previous day:

  • Discussion centered around where the Forum needs to go and who the critical partners are; the strategic plan.
  • Monday morning workshop: The Steering Committee requested feedback on the Data Quality workshop. NESAC members felt it was worthwhile, and one member suggested that the information was important enough that it should have been a concurrent session at the MIS conference.

Use of the Facilities Information Management Guide

Bruce Abbot was not able to give his presentation, so Brad reported on how the Los Angeles Unified School District used the Facilities Information Management Guide.

  • They pulled out 120 data elements to use in their information system.
  • Their system is up and running and would like to include grounds level data and eventually room level data. (Now on building level).
  • Brad will send an email to Bruce to ask him to put together a PowerPoint™ to forward to NESAC members.

NCES Handbooks Online Update

Tara McLarnon (CCSSO), Beth Young (QIP), and Lee Hoffman (NCES) reported:

  • The NCES Handbooks Online now include information on facilities and safety in schools.
  • In the coming year, new content will be added on technology and food service
  • Tara asked the NESAC members about Appendix D: the Language Codes because she gets requests throughout the year for adding languages. Committee members agreed to limit the languages to ISO languages and include their codes.
  • It was recommended that appendices or any long lists be downloadable in an excel spreadsheet that can be used to populate tables so they do not have to be hand-typed, eliminating some human errors.
  • Tara also raised the question of whether or not aggregate counts have a place in the handbooks. Most members felt they did not have a place because there seems to be no end to them and by the time a list came out, it would be outdated. After further discussion, the suggestion was made that if the aggregate count is derived from multiple variables, it would be helpful to have an appendix of ‘Derived Elements.’

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Race/Ethnicity Codes

Lee Hoffman (NCES) reported:

  • Nothing new to report.
  • Some flux because of new secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings.
  • Lee explained that the old standards apply to aggregate data, new standards apply to INDIVIDUAL situations. Some members reported that NAEP is asking for both aggregate and individual data using the new codes.
  • Hugh Walkup (USED) mentioned that those who can solve the problem within ED do not yet perceive it as a problem, and that’s the problem. The decision must be made by the Secretary; OMB advocated a decision, and now has pushed it back to ED.

PBDMI Report

Hugh Walkup and Pat Sherrill (USED) reported:

  • The goal of PBDMI is to consolidate K12 collections and create one place where program offices go to get their data.
  • Thus far, ED has created a pilot system, reviewed data elements, and begun the collection of 03-04, and 04-05 data. There is no ‘deadline’ for the 03-04 data, but it will be most useful if it is received by the end of March.
  • Currently ED is in the data validation phase, and they hope to be done with that in March in order to give data to the program offices for their feedback.
  • Analysis tools will be available in Sept. and states will be able to look at their own data. By end of year, some data should be ready for public use.
  • ED is also working on an analysis and reporting system and the survey tool (piloted on OCR).
  • Hugh reviewed the EDEN metrics that will track how they are doing, and what is happening on the state level as a result of federal action.
  • Hugh demonstrated several of the tools within the PBDMI system.

CCSSO National Data Initiative

  • Deborah Newby reported that CCSSO’s Education Information Management Advisory Consortium now has 24 states signed on for participation. EIMAC differs from the NCES Forum in that its mission is to reduce data collection burden on states and improve national data quality by working collaboratively with national data collectors (including the federal government program offices). The next EIMAC meeting is scheduled for May 2-4 in Washington DC , prior to the EDEN meeting.
  • Abby Potts of CCSSO reported on the CCSSO Data Partnership. There are three components to the partnership: The S&P ‘School Matters’ website, the CELT-managed Decision Support Architecture Consortium, and Achieve’s work with states to promote the use of data in decision-making. Abby is currently conducting state visits to discuss the S&P website, and conducting forums and conference calls to get state input on the data display as well as the analytic metrics to be used on the website. States are currently able to view their data on the School Matters website, but it is not yet available to the public. The launch date has been postponed until the end of March.

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PPI Committee Meeting Summary

Monday, February 21, 2004

Committee chair Nancy Resch called the meeting to order and reviewed PPI's purpose, its role in the Forum, and its responsibilities. Members introduced themselves.

Follow-up Discussion with Michael Brackett

Michael Brackett was invited to talk to the members of PPI.

  • Michael reiterated from his talk that the IT systems should be kept simple.
  • His philosophy is that no one person owns data. It exists for the welfare of the organization.
  • Michael has been working with California Department of Education, which has coordinated a team to work on data documentation, management and quality.

Other Concerns

Several SEAs and LEAs have concerns around reporting information to outside groups such as the Standards and Poor's Site, because they want to make sure that information transferred to groups are correct and have valid definitions.

  • Many SEAs find it too burdensome that they have to check data that other groups are disseminating.
  • Several SEAs and LEAs recommended that the education agencies should tell these groups that the States cannot verify the data.

Tuesday, February 22, 2004

Committee chair Nancy Resch called the meeting to order.

Work Group Request

Lee Tack made a request to form a work group: Data Quality Curriculum.

  • The purpose of the curriculum is to provide information for training people in methods to improve data quality.
  • This is an LEA-focused project. The curriculum will address issues pertinent to specific audiences in LEAs.
  • Analysis and use of data will be next step of the work group. PPI members commented that Forum products generally have not addressed analysis and interpretation of data.
  • Dennis Powell moved to approve the work group. Ron Danforth seconded. A motion to approve the formation of the task force was approved unanimously by voice vote.
  • Several members of PPI volunteered to be part of the work group: Susan VanGorden (OH), Ron Danforth (NY), Mary Gervase (ID), Ken Gu (RI), John Kennedy (ME), Bruce Dacey (DE), M. Engin Konanc (NC), Brian O'Leary (AK), Karen Waugh (KY), Brian Wilmot (WI), Judy Newman (SC), and Levette William (GA).

PBDMI/EDEN—Hugh Walkup: Building an Education Data Exchange Network

Hugh Walkup made a PowerPoint™ presentation on the PBDMI Education Data Exchange Network (EDEN). 

  • The EDEN transmission system allows SEAs to submit k-12 program performance data to USDOE into a single electronic system and brings together common data elements.
  • EDEN has received data from 50 SEAs.  Two States have submitted all requested data.  By the end of year, the data will be available online. 
  • The tool used by the website will use charts (bar, plot, etc) to report students meeting standards, achievement levels, etc.  They will also profile schools.
  • The URL form more information about PBDMI and EDEN is http://www.ed.gov/pbdmi.

The members of PPI expressed their support for PBDMI. They asked several questions of Dr. Walkup as noted below.

  • When will the data collection burden be reduced through the use of PBDMI?
    • Dr. Walkup said that SEAs that submitted data required by the Consolidated State Report will not have to re-submit those data. USDOE is reviewing the quality and quantity of the data received and will cancel collections when sufficient states submit the required data. PBDMI is working with program offices to reduce reports required by USDOE
  • Members asked about data suppression for small groups.
    • Dr. Walkup responded that the USDOE would not report any variable containing a cell that has fewer than 5 people.
  • Members asked about data elements finalization.
    • Dr. Walkup said that data elements for 2003-4 and 2004-5 are finalized. The target date is June 2005 for a draft of 2005-6 data elements and final review, including public comment, is expected to be completed by the end of summer.
  • Members are concerned about data quality in the EDEN/PBDMI system.
    • Dr. Walkup said that reports from the Center for Data Quality would be shared with states to give them an opportunity to assess the quality of their submissions.
  • PBDMI may or may not get funding for the 3rd year from Cooperative Systems funds.
  • Dr. Walkup emphasized that in order for EDEN to be successful in eliminating existing USED data collections, states need to send as much of the requested data as possible in order to convince USED offices that those existing collections are unnecessary. PPI members agreed that this is important, and noted that states need to articulate clearly and candidly exactly where they are struggling with the EDEN submissions, so that these problems can be effectively addressed by the EDEN team.

Tuesday Afternoon

Committee chair Nancy Resch called the meeting to order.

Special Task Order Update

David Larson, SEA representative from ND, presented a report on the special task order being completed by his state, Electronic Data Collections Phase II.

  • This special task order allowed ND to develop an online data dictionary. It is linked to NCES data handbook.
  • It will be an online automated full-scale data dictionary—which few states have.
  • The codes from NCES can be overwritten when the state needs a different data element, a different label name (e.g., NCES uses "gender" as its label, but ND overwrote "gender" to label it "sex.").
  • The site will allow states to tailor the NCES list to your specific state needs.
  • On the administrator side, the site tells where a data element has been collected (e.g. Fall Schedule, GED Testing, etc)
  • The public side of the site will indicate when the data were collected and what data elements were collected.
  • This website provides an option to see where duplicate data elements exist.

Steering Committee Report Update

Nancy Resch reported:

  • The committee wants feedback from Forum members about the Forum meetings in New Orleans.
  • Data Information Working Group (DIRWG) planning is ongoing at USDOE. DIRWG is a USDOE initiative designed to support the review, approval, coordination, and integration of all of the Department's data and information.
  • The members of standing committee discussed concerns and issues relevant to PPI, such as:
    • Developing data manager expertise.
    • Training guidelines on reporting
    • Addressing specific concerns with special populations (e.g., special education)
    • Protecting student confidentiality

Other Issues

The members discussed issues that they as PPI or the Forum could be addressing in their meetings.

  • Many PPI members would like to have additional clarifications on FERPA, especially as it relates to data suppression.
  • The members have many requests from other Federal departments (not through USDOE) for their data. However, these other agencies are unaware of FERPA. Several members do not know how to address these concerns.
  • Many members have multiple concerns on reducing data collections (EDEN, CCD, etc).
  • It was suggested that USED offices be invited to talk with the Forum about how they are utilizing EDEN data.
  • PPI discussed the orientation of new members to the Forum. First-timers at this PPI meeting expressed the need for more explanatory material (e.g., acronym list), and the members of PPI agreed that more orientation activities are needed.
  • At the next Forum meeting, members would like to have a presentation on how NCES and Forum publications are adjudicated differently.
  • Several Seas and LEAs have concerns around reporting information to outside groups such as the Standards and POOR's Site, because they want to make sure that information transferred to groups is correct and has valid definitions.

Meeting was adjourned.

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TECH Committee Meeting Summary

Monday, February 21, 2005

Welcome and Introductions

Chair Derrick Lindsay called the meeting to order and participants introduced themselves.

NCES Website

NCES Webmaster Jerry Malitz gave a tour of new features on the NCES website.

Forum Website

Tom Szuba (QIP) gave a tour of new features on the Forum website.

Forum Unified Education Technology Suite

Tom Szuba shared an abbreviated review of the recently completed Forum Unified Education Technology Suite, an online resource that was developed under the supervision of the TECH Committee.

Statewide Longitudinal Student Information Grant

A joint session with NESAC and PPI:

  • Lee Hoffman introduced Kashka Kubzdela, a research scientist at the National Center for Education Statistics. She is overseeing the implementation of the Statewide Longitudinal Study and Information System Grants for State Education Agencies, as administered through NCES and the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Kashka indicated that the competitive grants are designed to assist with the development of statewide information systems that will build capacity for higher order analyses and improve data-driven decision making. Funded systems will enable retention and use of longitudinal data.
  • An application notice will be published in the Federal Register and the RFA posted on the IES website. Visit http://ies.ed.gov for more information about the grant program.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005 (Morning)

Roundtable Feedback

Forum members spent ½ hour at two of the task force roundtable discussions to become familiar with the work of these groups. They are:

TECH Committee members felt that the roundtable sessions were well worth the time and effort. It was a good opportunity to learn about the status and plans of task forces and, perhaps more importantly, to share feedback and perspective on task force efforts. The format was good—keep the presentations brief.

Task Force Reports

RFP Working Group Idea

Raymond Yeagley (Rochester Schools, NH) reported (for Bethann Canada, Virginia Department of Education) on the idea to produce a Forum report on writing RFPs (Requests for Proposals) for state education agencies. TECH members thought it was a great idea, but Raymond noted that the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) may have produced a similar report. We have yet to see the report, but the topic will be shelved until the Summer 2005 Winter Meeting so that we can review the SIIA product.

SIF Report

Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF) Executive Director Larry Fruth offered a presentation about recent SIF activities. In a nutshell, he said that SIF is transitioning from an "opportunities and challenges" focus to a "solutions" focus.

Many states are now including SIF compliance as requirements in their RFPs. Some states even have state laws that require SIF compliance for all new technology systems. Any agency interested in doing this can contact Larry (lfruth@sifinfo.org) for guidance and/or boilerplate language.

For more information about SIF, visit http://www.sifinfo.org/index.asp.

School Codes for the Exchange of Data

A joint session with NESAC and PPI:

  • Lee Hoffman introduced Denise Bradby, MPR, Inc. who has been working on the course code project. The purposes of the project are to develop:
    • a single course code classification system for K-12 courses;
    • a standard for vendors;
    • the ability to compare courses across districts, particularly when sending electronic transcripts; and
    • a framework that can be "cross walked" with the NCES system used by researchers when they examine courses.
  • Next steps
    • At the conclusion of Phase II of the project, most high school courses will be described and assigned a course code.
    • The process to include the courses in the NCES Online Handbooks and SIF standards will begin.
    • Secondary course code catalogs will be requested from Forum SEAs and LEAs.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005 (Afternoon)

Open Discussion

  • Truancy
    • This issue was raised as a potential research/task force topic at the Summer 2004 Forum Meeting
    • It would be good to take a "snapshot" of the current status of truancy data/definitions in the states.
      • If the Forum doesn't tackle this type of issue, who will?
  • Qualitative Studies of Program Effectiveness
    • Some courts (e.g., in New Jersey) are declaring that education programs do not need to be funded if the only evidence of their effectiveness is based on qualitative data; yet there are statistically meaningful methods for generating qualitative data. Why not partner with higher education researchers to generate guidance about performing qualitative research on school, district, and state level educational program effectiveness?
      • E.g., A school district institutes a new reading program, but the data used to evaluate its effectiveness is usually limited to reading score data. How can an organization perform scientifically based research to more directly measure the effects of program delivery on student reading skills?
  • The Technical Side of Data Quality
    • This is the other half of Michael Brackett's presentation. Maybe he (or someone) could address the technical side of the data quality issue (as opposed to the staff/culture side) at an upcoming Forum meeting.
  • Dropouts
    • Could the Forum use the technology that supported the Forum TecSurvey to take a snapshot of dropout definitions in states across the nation?

Follow Up Discussion With Michael Brackett

Mr. Brackett offered an epilogue to his Monday morning session Data Quality Professional Development: Turning Bad Habits into Good Practices. (PDF 164 KB)

Strategic Planning

  • What should the function of the Forum be in the future?
  • What should the role of the TECH Committee be in the next few years?
    • Perhaps TECH should have an online threaded discussion in which all members have an opportunity to share opinions and perspectives on these important topics.
    • Ask NCES sponsors to describe their vision for the Forum.
    • Review the national data context in which the Forum operates (e.g., NCES, CCSSO, EIMAC (the Education Information Management Advisory Consortium and formerly known as EIAC), SIF)—where does the Forum fit?
      • Brainstorm interpretations and possible conclusions.

Mentor Education

Mentors should be mentored—i.e., train our mentors before giving them responsibilities for training new members.

Information Sharing Within the Forum

All Forum members should be sent Steering Committee meeting notes (even from the teleconferences).

 Meeting Notes

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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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