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Winter Forum 2007 Meeting Notes

National Forum on Education Statistics
February 26-28, 2007
Atlanta, GA

Contents

Opening General Session
Closing General Session
Joint Session: EDEN Update
Joint Session: Teacher Compensation Survey
Steering Committee Meeting Summary
NESAC Committee Meeting Summary
PPI Committee Meeting Summary
TECH Committee Meeting Summary


Opening Session

NCES Winter Forum 2007

Monday, February 26, 2007

Welcome and Opening Comments

Chair Derrick Lindsay (Mississippi Department of Education) opened the session and welcomed everyone to the 2007 Winter Forum Meeting. Derrick reminded the participants of the Forum mission—to develop and recommend strategies for building quality education data systems that will support local, state, and federal efforts to improve elementary and secondary education throughout the United States. The week’s hostess, Levette Williams (Georgia Department of Education), welcomed the members to the Atlanta, Georgia, and promised the help of her staff and agency throughout the week.

NCES Update

NCES Commissioner Mark Schneider was unable to deliver the NCES Update. In his place, Lee Hoffman (NCES) updated the Forum on the recent business and upcoming plans at NCES and IES.

  • NCES’ authorizing legislation mandates not only that it collects education statistics, but also that it supports state education agencies as they create and maintain statewide data systems. NCES counts on the Forum in many ways to help with this important work—in fact, the success of NCES depends in part on its collaborative efforts with the Forum.
  • The 2005 NAEP High School Transcript Study revealed a pattern of an increasing number of credits earned by high school students with a more challenging curriculum. However, despite this positive trend, NAEP has also shown a decline in assessment levels in both reading and science.
  • IES awarded 14 Statewide Longitudinal Data System Grants in 2005. Competition for a second round of these grants is currently underway. Current and future grantees have plenty of work ahead of them, as there is ample experience with survey data, but no comparable history with longitudinal administrative data.
  • NCES continues to work with colleagues at FERPA on how data can be used without violating student/teacher confidentiality.
  • The Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR) Study is underway assessing the financial health of school districts. NCES hopes to have a report out by the July Forum and Data Conference.
  • The Teacher Compensation Study will begin with a nine state pilot that addresses a number of questions about teacher pay and compensation. Frank Johnson (NCES) will speak to the Forum about this issue later in the week. The main goal is to provide states and districts with accurate data and leave the policy questions to the policy makers.
  • The High School Longitudinal Study will begin with the fall 2009 high school cohort, and will focus on the STEM courses (science, technology, and math). The study will follow this cohort of students through post secondary education and young adulthood.

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Data Demands of Katrina: Insights into Weathering the Storm

Linda Rocks (Bossier Parish Schools, LA) and Derrick Lindsay (Mississippi Department of Education) shared a presentation about the data disaster and recovery efforts undertaken by their agencies following the devastating hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

  • Although Bossier Parish Schools is not on the Louisiana coast, it was affected greatly by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Rain fell, winds blew, and, most importantly, students were relocated to the system in great numbers. The first of the 1033 displaced students arrived the day after Katrina (109 additional students came after Hurricane Rita). At this point, the Louisiana Department of Education was closed because of storm damage, and local agencies had to manage the crisis without state guidance. Linda reports that her district relied on a user-defined field in their SIS to identify relocated students as hurricane evacuees (and a second filed to identify their previous city, parish, and school name). Linda described how schools, districts, state agencies (from multiple states), and national organizations collaborated to best serve the displaced population.
  • Derrick reported similar activities at the SEA level in Mississippi, where over 14,500 students were displaced after Hurricane Katrina (including 1,413 students who transferred to an out-of-state school). The state data system was modified to reflect the information needs of emergency responders and educators over time (e.g., displaced students were counted throughout the state on four separate dates to get a sense of where and when students were moving).
  • While much good was accomplished in the wake of the hurricanes, both Derrick and Linda believe that services could have been delivered more efficiently if there had been more contingency planning at all levels in advance of this type of catastrophe. They suggested that the Forum consider how it might use its expertise, experience, and resources to develop a best practice guide for disaster recovery/contingency planning. Several standing committees expected to advance this idea during committee time.

Closing General Session
NCES Winter Forum 2007

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

E-Transcripts Discussion

Larry Fruth (SIFA) and Michael Sessa (PESC) presented the work their respective organizations are collaborating on to develop an e-transcripts system that will seamlessly transfer records between K-12 and higher education. Several states, including Indiana, Wyoming, and Texas, have already begun to implement such systems. A stakeholder group is being convened to develop a strategy for moving student records through the K-12 system.

Standing Committee Progress Reports

The standing committee chairs summarized their meetings throughout the week.

Taskforce/Working Group Reports

Data Quality Curriculum Task Force
  • The goal is to provide lesson plans and instructional materials to assist in data quality training.
  • The curriculum is being reviewed by NCES and will be available in both electronic and paper versions by May 2007.
PK-12 Data Model Task Force
  • The task force was approved at the Summer 2006 Data Conference and has taken on the task of developing a web-based product for a common data model based on NCES Handbooks.
  • Six subgroups have been formed to study a variety of topic areas and pose questions that the data model should be able to answer.
  • The project is expected to be completed by the summer of 2008.
Metadata Working Group
  • This working group has been approved by PPI and the steering committee to become a formal Forum Task Force.
  • The purpose is to develop a Forum Guide to Metadata. The group has already begun work on a detailed outline and hopes to be able to present a final document next year.
Truancy Working Group
  • This working group examined the challenges of reporting truancy data to Safe and Drug Free Schools, including the multitude of state and local definitions of “truancy” and related laws, policies, and practices.
  • The group will develop a white paper outlining the concerns and challenges surrounding the topic, and suggesting the use of attendance data as an alternative indicator for many current uses of truancy collections. The group will send a formal letter with these recommendations to EDEN and the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools.

Special Recognition

  • Peter Prowda (Connecticut Department of Education) will be retiring this year and was recognized for his commitment to the Forum.
  • The Decisions Support Systems Task Force completed its work, and the Forum recognized the members for their contribution.
    • Tom Ogle (Co-chair), Raymond Yeagley (Co-chair), Bethann Canada, Bertha Doar, Patricia Eiland, Thomas Purwin, Lee Rabbit, and Jeff Stowe.
  • Appreciation was extended to staff from NCES, the Georgia Department of Education, Westat, CCSSO, and QIP for their efforts throughout the meeting. Special thanks was given to Levette Williams (Georgia) and Ghedam Bairu (NCES) for all their hard work in making the 2007 Winter Forum a success.

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Joint Session: EDEN Update

Ross Santy (USED) updated Forum members on EDEN/EdFacts. Ross agreed to attend individual standing committee meetings to discuss additional questions in more detail.
  • The EDEN/CCD merger will combine the two systems (with their separate universes of similar data) with the least possible collection burden on SEAs. Non-fiscal 2007 CCD data will be reported as part of EDEN.
  • The 2006-2007 data collection was opened in January.
  • EDEN has already received submission plans from 26 states; submission plans are due in March. EDEN will send out information about the new Transition Plans.
  • The match edit reports from the CCD will be launched in early March 2007.
  • Beginning this year there will be no need to report OSEP data separately—it will all be collected through the EDEN system.
  • The EDEN office is working with Capitol Hill to address concerns about the race/ethnicity issue. There is currently no approved timeline for the publication of these specifications, however, they are expected to be finalized in the spring. Once confirmed, there will be a three year window for states to transition to full implementation.
  • Congress passed a continuing resolution instead of a new budget, meaning there are no new funding streams. However, the budget team in the EDEN office are still expecting to derive money for extended work.

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Joint Session: Teacher Compensation Survey

Frank Johnson (NCES) presented details about the future NCES Teacher Compensation Survey.
  • Frank reported that teachers are the most important component of education but, to date, salary data are only available at the state level and are not always comparable. The goal of this effort is to collect data on teacher compensation, training, and experience at the school and school district levels. It would also provide data on how experienced and highly trained teachers are distributed across schools and school districts, and support analysis of the relationship between teacher costs and student outcomes.
  • The survey will generate a record for each certified, full-time, public school teacher (Forum members suggested that part-time teachers should be included as well) by means of an ID Number for each teacher that will protect the identity of individual teachers. All data will be collected via a secure FTP server by the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Data will be maintained in both a public use file that aggregates data by district and in a restricted use file containing teacher-level data available to researchers who meet NCES qualifications and sign statements safeguarding the release and use of the data. NCES will also release an annual short report that summarizes the data.
  • The Pilot Data Collection (nine states – AZ, AR, CO, FL, IA, MO, NY, OK, and TN) will begin on April 13, 2007 and close on June 4, 2007. Preliminary findings will be presented at the July 2007 NCES Summer Data Conference. The 2008 data collection will collect data from all states.
  • Several questions were posed by Forum member, including how the survey would be implemented, what data it would track, how it would account for 9- versus 12-month contracts, how part-time teachers would be counted, how pay for additional duties (e.g., coaching) would be handled, and what the outcome might mean. Frank agreed to address these issues with individual standing committees later in the day.

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National Education Statistics Agenda Committee (NESAC)
Monday, February 26, 2007

Welcome and Agenda Overview

Chair Sonya Edwards (California Department of Education) called the committee to order and reviewed the meeting agenda.

Opening Session Discussion: Data Demands in Disaster Recovery

The committee discussed the Opening Session presentation about the Data Demands of Katrina: Insights into Weathering the Storm. Lavan Dukes (Florida Department of Education) gave the committee a brief account of how Florida handled the influx of Louisiana students as well as how they handle the numerous hurricanes that make landfall each year in their state.

  • Students affected by Katrina were able to transfer to Florida schools. The Louisiana records were recreated easily by the Florida system due in part to the similarities of systems of each state.
    • Florida recognized that the speed of the record transfer was a key element in getting students back into schools.
  • Florida’s own system has a data element called “Hurricane Effect Student”, which has been a big help tracking students through multiple school changes due to Florida’s own hurricanes.
  • Disaster organizations such as the Red Cross were able to look to the Florida Department of Education for information about displaced persons in order to decide where they needed to send their aid workers. It speaks volumes to the effectiveness of being able to share data across states and between certain organizations.

The committee discussed issues relating to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Transferring student data after a disaster is essential to get students back in school and in the correct classes and programs. However, doing so poses some serious FERPA concerns. The committee discussed whether or not there should be guidelines for school and local data collectors about how to proceed in such a situation without violating student privacy rights and how the state can or cannot act as a custodian of this data. Next steps might include creating a “Lessons Learned” document from state agency and local agency perspectives. It could include a procedural check list that may be available for use if/when a disaster of this scale occurs again.

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Special Task Order Report

Anne Brinson (Indiana Department of Education) reviewed the status of the Special Task Order which has been received and is awaiting a contract to allow work to proceed. Anne reported that Indiana was using the funds to create a data dictionary, which will serve as the backbone of a data warehouse project for all divisions within the Department. The data dictionary will contain a list of all files in the database, the number of records in each file, and the names and types of each field. It will also specify the precise definition of data elements; usernames, roles and privileges; schema objects; integrity constraints; stored procedures and triggers; general database structure; and space allocations.

IES State Longitudinal Grant Reports

The following state representatives gave summaries of their IES (Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education) Statewide Longitudinal Data System Grants awarded in November 2005. Abstracts of these and the other awarded grants can be found at http://nces.ed.gov/programs/SLDS.

  • Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, Les Morse
  • California Department of Education, Sonya Edwards
  • Connecticut Department of Education, Peter Prowda
  • Florida Department of Education, Lavan Dukes
  • South Carolina Department of Education, April Bolin

Working Group Updates

The committee was updated on the status of both the Truancy and Metadata working groups.

  • Truancy Working Group— The Truancy Working Group was convened last summer amidst concerns about collecting truancy data for the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools. After two formal meetings, in October and February, the group determined that defining this concept cannot be accomplished in a uniform way on a national level at this time. Data on truancy are collected very differently not only between states but also within states and districts. The working group will draft a white paper about truancy data challenges and the differences in state laws and definitions that prevent the development of a unified definition and formula. The working group will offer to partner with the Office of Safe and Drug Free schools to work out its collection needs, and perhaps focus more on attendance data as a more plausible indicator.
  • Metadata Working Group— The Metadata Working Group will be requesting approval as a task force from TECH (its parent committee), PPI, and the Steering Committee. The group is planning on creating a Forum publication that will serve as an informative guide to metadata, its uses, and importance.

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Joint Session: EDEN Update
Joint Session: Teacher Compensation Survey

NESAC Tuesday, February 27 (Morning Session)

Online Handbooks Customization Demonstration

Nzinga Damali-Cathie (CCSSO) and Ben Shapiro (KForce) demonstrated the Online Handbooks Customization Tool, which is designed to allow state users to create their own online handbook, and can be used at an LEA level once the SEA has provided access to the tool. The tool will be available on the NCES website as soon as it is approved for posting on the live site. Once the tool is made available, CCSSO will launch a series of web-ex sessions to demonstrate the use of the tool and its capabilities.

Forum Communications

Ghedam Bairu (NCES), Tom Szuba (QIP), Bobbi Woods (Kforce), and Susan Rittenhouse (Westat) discussed and/or demonstrated four new/revised Forum resources:

  • Forum Member Handbook— This new publication will serve as a resource for Forum members by describing the Forum’s purpose, organization, membership, member responsibilities, and resources (e.g., publications). Expect to see a near final draft later this spring. It will eventually be available online and sent in print format to new members.
  • Forum Voting Tool— This online tool will serve as a mechanism for collecting member votes (e.g., for publication approval and adoption of new policies or procedures). It is hoped that this tool will reduce voting traffic on listserv. It is user name and password driven and will automatic tally votes and generate reports.
  • Forum Outreach Toolkit— This member resource is intended to simplify efforts to share information about the Forum with your colleagues at home and at conferences by allowing members to download and customize presentations/handouts. It includes a Forum Publications Overview PPT that introduces the Forum, describes its resources, and includes contact information; a Forum Publication Summary Sheet that is a one page handout with summaries of all Forum publications; and Individual Publication Summaries that consists of an abstract and URL links. The toolkit is available on the Forum website at http://nces.ed.gov/forum/outreach.asp.
  • Forum Website Revision— This revision reflects significant changes to NCES standards for website presentation and programming. It reorganizes content and simplifies navigation. Comments about the revision (http://nces.ed.gov/forum) can be directed to Ghedam Bairu.

Joint Session Discussion: EDEN Update

Ross Santy and Pat Sherrill (USED) provided more details about the EDEN update and updated the committee on the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) data collection in EDEN. Committee members responded with numerous questions, including:

  • How can states sign-up to submit OCR data directly for their districts?
  • What is EDEN doing to ensure that LEAs understanding EDEN?

Ross invited the Forum to suggest ways to improve communications about EDEN with LEAs. He suggested that the Forum could be a partner for these types of outreach activities. Other discussion points included:

  • The Civil Rights data collection samples a set of districts annually (roughly 1/3 of the districts in the country are sampled every two years; large districts are included in the sample annually).
  • Forms and information about the survey can be found at http://www.crdc2006.org. This site will help SEAs and LEAs plan for the collection.
  • EDEN is currently collecting the 2007 OCR survey.
  • A group of Forum members, EDEN staff, and OCR representatives will be convened at the 2007 Summer Data Conference to discuss the possibility of states reporting OCR data for their LEAs.
  • There are many issues that will need to be addressed during these conversations, including: leveraging states needs, creating a reporting timeline, and certifying the accuracy of the data.
  • The EDEN office recognizes that LEAs begin to develop the following year’s registration during the month of February and that is too late to make changes to the element specifications for that year’s data collection. File specifications should be discussed at the Summer 2007 Meeting for the following year’s collection and not in February.

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NESAC Tuesday, February 27 (Afternoon Session)

Join Session Discussion: Teacher/Staff Compensation Survey

Frank Johnson (NCES) joined the committee to continue the discussion of the proposed new NCES Teacher Compensation Survey. NCES conducted a soon-to-be-released feasibility study that indicated that 30 out of 40 responding states have this type of teacher level data. The survey will be started with a pilot to include Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, New York, and Tennessee. Once the survey has OMB approval, it will be released to states for voluntary response. States brought up a number of issues that will be essential to the success or failure of this survey.

  • The survey was initially just going to look at full-time employees due to the vast differences in FTE counts by state; this may change due to the response and input from Forum members.
  • States expressed concern that non-monetary benefits will not be collected. Items such as “leave time” and “summer off” will not be collected.
  • Forum members asked whether union affiliation be collected as a variable. E.g., Will the survey compare teachers who are members of unions and which unions? Unions have collected these type of data from their members, so the committee wondered whether NCES has looked at what items the Unions may have already collected.
  • There was concern over the possibility that Social Security Numbers may be used to key and salary information, causing some Forum members to wonder whether this will conflict with FERPA laws. A collection based on a teacher ID was suggested.
  • States expressed concern about the tremendous cost that seemed to be associated with this data collection. Does the end goal justify this cost? Will the data be used for anything other than research needs?

Migrant Student Information System (MSIX) Discussion

Chair Sonya Edwards led a discussion of the new Migrant Student Information System (MSIX). This system will serve as a national data repository that will collect information on migrant students from SEA migrant data collections. MSIX is working with two vendors, E-scholar and Deloit. The project is on an aggressive timeline and is hoping for a Fall 2007 rollout, but is currently behind schedule. The committee brought up several questions regarding a national repository that should be formally addressed at the Summer Data Conference.

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FERPA Discussion

Leroy Rooker of the Family Policy and Compliance Office joined the committee to discus the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

  • Following the conversation about the migrant student collections, Leroy noted that if MSIX has statutory authority, similar to that of the foreign student database (SEEVIS), then FERPA laws will not prohibit the collection; Leroy will check on this and report back.
  • Clarification was given about sharing information across state databases—it is prohibited unless the information is not personally identifiable. SEAs can get information from an LEA only for mandated work and it must be in a non-personally identifiable format.
  • Information transferred in response to Hurricanes or other natural disasters is evaluated at on a case-by-case basis.

After answering questions, he directed members to email ferpa@ed.gov if they have any questions, concerns, or comments regarding FERPA.

Demo: Systems that Connect Teacher and Student Data

Lavan Dukes (Florida Department of Education) and Linda Rocks (Bossier Parish Schools, LA) demonstrated systems used in each of their states to connect teacher data and student data. Florida has a few databases that include teacher course records, including a staff database, a certification system, the Florida retirement system, and a student database. Louisiana has a similar system and uses class codes assigned at the LEA level to link teachers to students. Louisiana also assigns a highly qualified flag to those teachers.

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Steering Committee Report

Chair Sonya Edwards gave an update of Steering Committee activities, including the possibility of creating a working group for disaster planning, an EDEN advisory group, and a race/ethnicity working group.

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Policies, Programs and Implementation (PPI)
Monday, February 26, 2007

Introductions and Agenda Review

Chair Bob Beecham (Nebraska Department of Education) called the PPI committee to order and reviewed the agenda.

Opening Session Review and Discussion

Bob Beecham led a discussion about the NCES Overview delivered by Lee Hoffman (on behalf of Commissioner Mark Schneider) as well as the presentation on Disaster Recovery. Committee members responded with these thoughts:

  • It is a constant struggle between states when there are not course standards.
  • Should the Forum provide guidance on disaster recovery? Maybe some common guidance on what FERPA allows and what “evidence” is needed to receive federal funds.

IES State Longitudinal Grant Reports

The following state representatives gave summaries of their IES (Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education) Statewide Longitudinal Data System Grants awarded in November 2005. Abstracts of these and the other awarded grants can be found on the SLDS website.

  • Maryland State Department of Education
  • Michigan Department of Education
  • Pennsylvania Department of Education
  • Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

Task Force Update

Data Quality Curriculum – Ghedam Bairu (NCES) provided an update on behalf of the task force. The task force has created a lesson plan and instruction materials aimed at LEA staff. The group used the Forum Guide to Building a Culture of Quality Data as a foundation for the curriculum. The final information is being reviewed at USED. The documents will then be posted to the Forum website.

Discussion of EIMAC and Forum Roles

Lee Hoffman (NCES) and Deborah Newby (CCSSO) were invited to a discussion on the roles of the Forum and EIMAC. The role of EIMAC has changed recently and the role of the Forum has seemed to evolve over time as well. PPI members felt this was okay and there is plenty of work for both groups to do. The most unique aspect of the Forum is in the participation of LEAs and associations.

Joint Session: EDEN Update
Joint Session: Teacher Compensation Survey

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PPI Tuesday, February 27, 2007 (Morning Session)

Task Force Approval

Tom Ogle (Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education), chair of the Metadata Task Force, reported that the TECH Committee had voted to forward his Request to Forum a Task Force to PPI. PPI voted unanimously to give the group task force status and advanced the request to the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee later approved the request and established the Metadata Task Force.

PPI Tuesday, February 27 (Afternoon Session)

FERPA Update

Leroy Rooker of the Family Policy and Compliance Office joined the committee for a discussion about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). He said he had hoped to be able to have the revised regulations to share with the group this meeting, but he did not. The revisions include expanding the interpretation of FERPA. The revised regulations will be shared in the Notes on Proposed Rulemaking. After answering questions, he directed members to FERPA if they have any questions, concerns, or comments regarding FERPA.

Ten Essential Elements

Nancy Smith (Data Quality Campaign) gave a brief overview of the DQC and the Ten Essential Elements. Bob Beecham lead the group in a discussion of the elements. Most of that discussion focused on the teacher-student connection element.

Teacher Compensation Joint Session Response/Discussion

Frank Johnson (NCES) came to PPI for more discussion about the NCES Teacher Compensation Survey. PPI members discussed their thoughts with Frank. Most concerns revolved around the idea of comparing state data that are defined, calculated, and collected differently.

Steering Committee Update

A brief overview of Steering Committee activities was provided. PPI members discussed the Forum meeting thus far and offered feedback.

Future PPI Planning

Bob Beecham led a discussion of the mission of PPI and ideas for potential PPI projects within that mission. A few ideas were shared about the part of the PPI mission that says, “enhancing coordination among federal agencies and between federal and state agencies.” One comment was exploring how federal collections from state education agencies can be coordinated (e.g., ED, USDA, and Medicaid).

The group also wanted to follow-up with: (1) the DQC Common Data Ask consolidation work; and (2) disaster recovery guidance.

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Technology (TECH) Standing Committee

Monday, February 26, 2007

Introductions and Agenda Review

Chair Jeff Stowe (Arizona Department of Education) and Vice Chair Kathy Gosa (Kansas Department of Education) called the meeting to order and reviewed the meeting agenda.

Opening Session Review and Discussion

Jeff Stowe asked for thoughts about the NCES Update delivered by Lee Hoffman (on behalf of Commissioner Mark Schneider) and the Hurricane Katrina Disaster Recovery presentation.

  • Tom Purwin (Jersey City Public Schools, NJ) noted that staff salary data was now being published by newspapers in New Jersey. Washington State will soon be doing the same. Maybe this NCES focus on staff data is good if it helps to ensure the accuracy of the data that are being reported (e.g., good definitions and comparable elements).
  • There was an idea for a new Forum working group: guidance about the appropriate/inappropriate use of education data aimed at end users and third party publishers.

Course Codes Update

Lee Hoffman (NCES) shared an update about the NCES Course Codes Project, more formally known as the Secondary Schools Course Classification System: School Codes for the Exchange of Data (SSCCS: SCED).

  • This resource will not replace the NCES transcript study tool, the Classification of Secondary School Courses (CSSC). Rather, it will be an electronically searchable database for an intended audience of school district staff and others interested in managing student records. It will become a part of the NCES Handbooks Online and, therefore, will undergo formal NCES review.
  • In response to reviewer comments: a new introduction has been prepared to clarify the resource’s audience and intended use; the Special Education subject are has been removed; non-secondary course codes and descriptions have been removed; and a description of the technical process used to develop the system was added.
  • Revisions are expected to be completed by late March and a new version will be submitted for NCES review in May.
  • This work is being conducted by MPR Associates.
  • Forum members reported that Wyoming, Washington, and Idaho all plan to use the SCED to varying degrees.

EIMAC Clarification

Deborah Newby (CCSSO) and Lee Hoffman (NCES) led a discussion about the Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC), a CCSSO initiative that grew out of Education Information Advisory Committee.

  • EIMAC consists of three permanent subcommittees: Assessment, General Statistics, and Special Education. In addition, there are three funded standing task forces under EIMAC: Assessment (funded by US Department of Education), General Statistics (funded by US Department of Education), and Longitudinal Student Data Systems (funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Broad Foundation). For more information about EIMAC, visit EIMAC
  • EIMAC has the following four-point mission:
    • Represent and advise SEA chiefs and staff on national data issues, both current and future.
    • Collaborate in the planning of national data initiatives by building partnerships with national data collectors, including federal program offices.
    • Review and provide feedback on: 1) national data collections and reports; and 2) national assessments and related research studies.
    • Provide networking and professional development opportunities for SEA directors and managers of data and assessment.
    • Provide resources and leadership to states in building student-level data systems
  • The TECH discussion led to the realization that the Forum differs from EIMAC in several fundamental and important ways:
    • Forum participation is paid for by the U.S. Department of Education whereas EIMAC participation is paid for by the states. Thus, Forum members are convened to foster national collaboration and standards development while EIMAC participants are there to represent the interests of their individual chiefs and agencies (i.e., even if the same people attend the Forum and EIMAC meetings, participants have a very different role to play at the events).
    • Local education agency (LEA) representation is available at the Forum but not at EIMAC.
    • The Forum does not engage in any type of advocacy, which is not necessarily true of EIMAC.
    • A major purpose of the Forum is the development of voluntary, best practice resources for use in schools, districts, and states throughout the nation. EIMAC will occasionally produce a white paper, but does not intend to develop publications for the larger education community.
  • The Forum’s role as the voice of local education agencies cannot be overemphasized because there is no other “forum” for LEAs to talk about education data. Moreover, the federal government is far removed from schools and school districts, and the needs of states may not represent these key stakeholders.
  • Issues that are really critical to the education data community may require the attention of both the Forum and EIMAC (e.g., proposed changes to race/ethnicity codes). For example, EIMAC may advocate positions (e.g., requiring a three year phase in period for states) whereas the Forum might provide guidance about good practices for implementation in the form of publications and other resources.
    • Where there is overlap, the Forum and EIMAC will coordinate work as possible (e.g., through overlapping membership and Deborah Newby’s role in the two organizations).

Task Order Reports

The National Center for Education Statistics announced that three states received fiscal year (FY) 2007 State Cooperative System Task Order Awards: Kansas, Vermont, and Indiana. These awards are competed each fall and can be up to $80,000. Only SEAs are eligible to apply, although LEAs could partner with their SEA. The purpose of the awards is to improve federal-state cooperation in data collection, processing, and analysis by: (1) developing and implementing student identification systems in support of statewide information systems; (2) improving a state's ability to track and verify dropouts and transfers; (3) improving data quality assurance procedures at the state or local level; and (4) coordinating technical assistance or training for local education agencies in order to facilitate the adoption of state data collection and reporting systems.

  • Hawaii Department of Education (HDE)
    • Tom Saka reported that the Hawaii’s task order, Enabling Relevant School-Level Data Reporting, had been completed. He described why it is necessary to determine data function prior to collecting it or including it in a data model (i.e., what is the “right” data to collect for managing and improving classroom activities).
  • Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE)
    • Kathy Gosa reported that the KSDE task order, Increasing Capacity for Building a High Quality State Data System, had been completed. The resources were used to help pilot a student data entry system, including offering LEA training and enhancing KSDE capacity for EDEN reporting.
    • Kathy Gosa reported that the KSDE had received a FY 2007 award for a project titled Improving the Quality of Data Submitted by Kansas LEAs. The project is focused on increasing the quality of data submitted to the KSDE by schools and districts. The KSDE is in its second year of collecting student level data using the Kansas Individual Data on Students (KIDS) initiative. During the first year, they realized that schools faced many common challenges to providing quality data. This task order focuses on addressing these challenges by offering professional development about data quality issues for LEA staff. Kathy will provide updates on the project at future Forum meetings.

IES State Longitudinal Grant Reports

Kashka Kubzdela (NCES) coordinates the IES State Longitudinal Grant Program, and described plans to ensure that Forum members and other state education agency staff have access to information about funded activities undertaken by 2005 awardees.

  • Kashka introduced the new public website at http://nces.ed.gov/programs/SLDS/index.asp. This site includes a program overview, standards and guidelines, current events, past presentations, related resources, state abstracts and applications, and current grant opportunities. A “data chart” webpage will be posted by the end of March 2007.
  • TECH members asked that resources other than presentations also be posted. This might include letters to stakeholders, training materials, and other “public” files. Kashka said she would be happy to post anything that SDLS grantees submit.
  • MIS presentations in the SLDS strand were to be video taped this year. These presentations will be posted to the SLDS website.

The following state representatives gave summaries of their IES (Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education) Statewide Longitudinal Data System Grants awarded in November 2005. Abstracts of these and the other awarded grants can be found on the SLDS website.

  • Arkansas Department of Education, Carmen Jones – Arkansas has focused to date on electronic transcripts, the introduction of unique student identifiers (working with Triand), and developing a data model and data warehouse (working with Cognos). The LDS Steering Committee formed workgroups on: technical infrastructure (focusing on maintenance of the state’s system); data architecture (focusing on the development of a reference database); data distribution (focusing on statewide marketing and training program); and research (focusing on the creation of a technical and operations infrastructure to support data access for researchers). Current challenges include data standardization across districts; block schools and other structures “outside the norm”; user agreements for data access; communication across department and agencies; training; and securing additional funding to ensure future maintenance of the longitudinal system.
  • Kentucky Department of Education, Robert Hackworth – The Kentucky Instructional Data System (KIDS) will be a comprehensive data warehouse comprising student demographic, financial, and assessment data. At its core, KIDS will bring together various information silos that are now isolated. Kentucky has begun the procurement process and expects to begin pilot activities with 5-10 districts in Fall 2007. This has been an especially labor intensive process given that the warehouse is being developed for existing data silos.
  • Minnesota Department of Education, Donna Willis – Minnesota has completed: (1) its Requirements Document; (2) the development of an Initial Data Warehouse; and (3) the assembly of a project team. An Initial Data Dictionary was drafted and is currently undergoing review and refinement. A Data Steward has been assigned to ensure the ongoing validity and relevance of the dictionary. Vendor capabilities have been evaluated for a business intelligence tool and a contract to purchase will occur fairly soon. A data mart/data cube has been developed for custom report card test results analysis, while a second data mart has been developed for teacher retention data (eliminating about 200 individually generated reports). Test results, teacher/staff data, and school and district data have all been loaded into the data warehouse. Financial and student data will be loaded in the near future.
  • Tennessee Department of Education, Corey Chatis – Tennessee is working to establish a data warehouse and various related data improvement projects. Oracle has been contracted to develop the data warehouse with the first phase to focus on exit status (expanded reporting capacity and NGA graduation rates) and data security. The second phase will include assessment, attendance, and discipline data, and permit reporting across subject areas. The state report card system will be revamped to reflect newly established web-based access and processing. Other efforts to improve data quality include the establishment of a Data Management Committee; improved communications with districts regarding element definitions and the purpose(s) of new or revised data collections; improved extract and error reporting processes (from district SIS packages into the state’s database); and the addition of web-based data entry screens for districts having difficulty submitting data. Issues currently being addressed include separating the role of pre-existing operational databases and data warehouses (i.e., there is a need to establish clear distinctions and reduce redundancies, especially regarding reporting); and making the transition from a vendor-created warehouse to one that is understood, supported, and able to be revised by internal resources.

Task Force Updates

  • The Metadata Working Group submitted a Request to Form a Task Force, which was approved by TECH and forwarded to PPI. PPI and the Steering Committee later approved the request and established the Metadata Task Force.
  • Bethann Canada (Virginia Department of Education) presented a Request to Form a Working Group to develop best practice guidance for implementing the USED’s new standards for maintaining, collecting, and reporting data on race and ethnicity. The request was approved and a Forum Race/Ethnicity Working Group was established. The purpose of the group will be to: define best practices for collecting and storing race and ethnicity data at the local and state levels; define best practices for aggregating race and ethnicity data for federal reporting; and provide guidance that will eliminate redundant effort by SEAs and LEAs, while improving data comparability. Forum members will have an opportunity to volunteer to join the group via the Forum listserv.
Joint Session: EDEN Update
Joint Session: Teacher Compensation Survey

TECH Tuesday, February 27 (Morning Session)

TECH Tuesday, February 27 (Afternoon Session)

IES State Longitudinal Grant Reports (continued)

The remainder of the SLDS presentations were completed at this time (see summaries above).

FERPA Discussion

Leroy Rooker of the Family Policy and Compliance Office joined the committee for a discussion about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). After answering questions, he directed members to email ferpa@ed.gov if they have any questions, concerns, or comments regarding FERPA.

PESC and SIFA Cooperation

Michael Sessa, Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) and Larry Fruth, Schools Interoperability Framework Association (SIFA)—PESC’s works to establish and encourage the adoption of data exchange standards in education. While PESC focuses exclusively on higher education, it recognizes the need to bridge transmission standards between the higher education and K-12 communities. SIFA works in the K-12 community and is continuing its efforts to build XML specifications for software to share data quickly, dynamically and securely. These two member-driven associations announced a new cooperative partnership in February 2007 that is intended to generate technical standards and specifications to enable interoperability among educational software applications—with SIFA’s core competency in PK-12 schools and PESC’s core functionality geared towards postsecondary institutions. For more information about PESC, visit www.pesc.org. For more information, visit http://www.sifinfo.org.

New Technologies

Jeff Stowe passed out a one page list of new and innovative technologies affecting education and education data. He asked members to consider whether TECH wants to reemphasize exploration of “new technologies” in education. For example:

  • What are the current technological challenges facing education and education data?
  • With all the remote devices and accompanying learning modalities, how do we measure student learning and determine what modalities work best?
  • How does an education agency deal operationally with upgrades and new releases of existing products?
  • How do educators plan to accommodate new products and technologies? For example:
  • How might blogs be used in education data? E.g., Can they be used to solicit public comments on draft data reports?
  • How will publication procedures or accessibility be affected by new operating systems and software (e.g., MS Vista)?
  • How do late releases of expected products and versions affect planning and implementation efforts?
  • Has anyone switched development models from “we want perfect code” to “we want code that is ‘good enough’ because it isn’t worth perfecting given that our requirements are going to change in a year.”

Jeff asked whether TECH is adequately considering how future technologies will affect education and education data? If so, what is the plan for continuing to do so? If not, how can TECH incorporate these issues into its work/guidance provided to the education community?

  • Is there more a more formal process TECH should undertake to address new technologies?
  • Is there guidance that TECH should be producing?
  • What is the vision for this guidance (content, format, product type)?

Conclusion

Jeff reviewed issues discussed during TECH committee time and adjourned the meeting.

Steering Committee
NCES Winter Forum 2007

Monday, February 26, 2007

Welcome and Opening Comments

Chair Derrick Lindsay (Mississippi Department of Education) opened the Steering Committee and welcomed members to the 2007 Winter Forum Meeting.

Forum-EIMAC

Deborah Newby (CCSSO) and Lee Hoffman (NCES) were invited to speak with standing committees to discuss the similarities and differences between the Forum and CCSSO’s Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC).

  • The Forum differs from EIMAC in several fundamental and important ways:
    • Forum participation is paid for by the U.S. Department of Education whereas EIMAC participation is paid for by the states. Thus, Forum members are convened to foster national collaboration and standards development while EIMAC participants are there to represent the interests of their individual chiefs and agencies (i.e., even if the same people attend the Forum and EIMAC meetings, participants have a very different role to play at the events).
    • Local education agency (LEA) representation is available at the Forum but not at EIMAC.
    • The Forum does not engage in any type of advocacy, which is not necessarily true of EIMAC.
    • A major purpose of the Forum is the development of voluntary, best practice resources for use in schools, districts, and states throughout the nation. EIMAC will occasionally produce a white paper, but does not intend to develop publications for the larger education community.
  • The Forum enables the LEA, SEA, federal dialogue. This role as the voice of local education agencies cannot be overemphasized because there is no other “forum” for LEAs to talk about education data. Moreover, the federal government is far removed from schools and school districts, and the needs of states (as presented at EIMAC) may not always represent these key stakeholders from LEAs.
  • Issues that are really critical to the education data community may require the attention of both the Forum and EIMAC (e.g., proposed changes to race/ethnicity codes), but many issues will not overlap in the two organizations very much (e.g., growth models, research, and advocacy issues are all EIMAC issues).
  • We should establish more formal communications between the Forum and EIMAC. The goal is to work together more intentionally, rather than informally. Given Deborah Newby’s role in the two organizations, the Steering Committee asked that she serve in this function and she agreed to do so. Deborah will regularly update EIMAC members about new Forum initiatives and products. We will schedule time at each meeting for her to update Forum members about EIMAC activities as well. To support this communication, we will:
    • Prepare summary materials about the Forum, its mission, and products for Deborah.
    • Revise the Forum-EIMAC document that clarifies the roles of the two organizations.
    • Determine our research/publication agenda and ask Deborah to share it with EIMAC.

Race/Ethnicity

An amendment to the law is expected in spring or summer 2007. Information needs to reach local and state education agency staff by the fall of 2007. Organizations will lose an entire year of preparation if guidance isn’t available by the beginning of the school year. A resource that reaches users by December 2007 can help guide state and local responses by September 2008.

  • A working group was established by the TECH Committee.
  • The Forum listserv will be used to offer membership to members of all three standing committees
  • This resource could/should be a project plan template (e.g., how to implement the new guidance).
  • It will include SEA and LEA level guidance.

Standing Committee Updates

  • TECH (Chair Jeff Stowe)—The Race/Ethnicity Working Group was approved by TECH, but membership will be offered to members of all three standing committees.
  • PPI (Chair Bob Beecham)—The committee is considering the establishment of a Disaster Recovery Working Group. Perhaps it would make sense to make it a Business Continuity group, which is more inclusive and incorporates disaster recovery.
  • NESAC (Chair Sonya Edwards)—The “migrant letter” was shared with the committee.

Orientation Session at the Summer 2007 Meeting

We should to add a description of the task order process to the Orientation Session.

Steering Committee Tuesday, February 26, 2007

Round Tables

We should consider having one morning round table and one at lunch (with box lunches). Otherwise it feels like we are trying to fit too much into a single day (and, put simply, we are starting too early).

NCES Teacher Salary Survey

Do we want to offer Forum assistance to this project?

  • Ghedam should ask Frank if he would be interested in the help of a technical review group made up of Forum members.
  • We could prepare (or help Frank prepare) a brochure or other material that can be shared with school board members, etc., because it will be a policy decision whether SEAs and LEAs choose to participate in the voluntary pilot.
  • We can continue to help push this survey in a direction that makes it better and more useful for everyone involved.

Forum Listservs

There is a lot of chatter on the listserv that wouldn’t be characterized as “helpful communications”. Can we ask Westat to reconfigure the tool so that “reply” only goes to the sender rather than the whole listserv?

EDEN

  • Steering Committee members reported that Ross Santy and Pat Sherrill (ED) voiced interest in scheduling regular meetings with the Forum to discuss "hot topics" such as OCR, the Migrant Student Information System, submission schedules, etc. We should follow up with them to say that the Forum welcomes this type of regular communications with EDEN representatives. ACTION ITEM: Set up an SEA/LEA group in July (perhaps to meet on Sunday afternoon) and invite Ross and Pat to bring representatives from OCR to discuss the 2009 OCR collection through EDEN and how states can report data for their LEAs. Beth Young (QIP) and Ghedam Bairu will follow up on this.
  • There is some concern about the timing of EDEN changes. Notice in February is simply too late to change forms that get printed for fall use by SEAs and LEAs. A better schedule, for example, would be to give notice during the Summer 2007 Forum with expectation of a Fall 2008 implementation.

Teacher Compensation Survey

Ghedam was asked to follow up with Frank about the Forum’s offer of assistance (e.g., to set up technical feedback groups or other channels for exchanging ideas about the survey and its implementation).

Task Force Approval

PPI voted unanimously to approve the task force status of the Metadata Working Group. The Steering Committee concurred and the Metadata Task Force was established.

Migrant Student Information System (MSIX)

NESAC had a discussion about the new Migrant Student Information System (MSIX), which is intended to serve as a national data repository to collect information on migrant students from SEA migrant data collections. All three standing committees would like to hear more about MSIX, especially as it is affected by FERPA considerations, in a joint session at the July 2007 Forum Meeting. Sonya and Ghedam will follow up on this.

Photos

Steering Committee members noted that it would be nice if photos were taken throughout Forum meetings to help document our efforts and experiences.

Steering Committee Conference Call

The next Steering Committee conference call will be on Friday, April 20 at 2:00 pm EST.

 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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