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Winter 2008 Forum Meeting Notes

National Forum on Education Statistics
February 25-26, 2008
San Francisco, CA

Contents

Opening General Session
Joint Session #1: PK-12 Data Model Update
Joint Session #2: FERPA Update
National Education Statistics Agenda Committee (NESAC) Meeting Summary
Policies, Programs and Implementation (PPI) Meeting Summary
Technology Committee (TECH) Meeting Summary
Closing Session
Steering Committee Meeting Summary


Opening Session

Monday, February 25, 2008

Welcome and Opening Comments
Forum Chair Susan VanGorden (Lakota Local School District, OH) welcomed Forum members to the Winter 2008 Forum Meeting in San Francisco, California. Susan reviewed the meeting agenda and reported that the Forum website averaged 6,117 visits per month from June 2007 (when NCES web statistics were recalibrated) and January 2008. During this same period, Forum publications were downloaded as PDFs or were visited on their home pages 5,746 times per month. Susan then welcomed eleven new members to the Forum:

  • Jim Addy, Iowa Department of Education.
  • John McCue, Maine Department of Education.
  • David Person, Maine School Administrative District #54.
  • James Pennington, Iowa Department of Education (Alternate).
  • Irene Spero, Consortium for School Networking.
  • Charlene Swanson, New York State Education Department.
  • Peter Tamayo, Washington State Off. Supt Pub. Instruction.
  • Kevon Tucker-Seeley, Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory.
  • Khaled Falah, Office of the State Superintendent of Education, District of Columbia.
  • Erin McGoldrick, District of Columbia Public Schools.
  • Jim Parsons, Humble Independent School District (TX).

Welcome to California
Sonya Edwards (California Department of Education) welcomed the Forum to California for the Winter 2008 Meeting.

Using Forum Products in Local Education Agencies
Tom Purwin (Jersey City Public Schools, NJ) offered a presentation on how he is using Forum publications in his local education agency. His district now uses several Forum resources as the foundation for a broad range of professional development activities. Tom highlighted how this approach to publicizing Forum work has benefited both the Forum and staff in his school district.

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Joint Session #1: PK-12 Data Model Update

Jeff Stowe (Arizona Department of Education), Glenn McClain (Platte Valley Schools, Weld RE-7, CO), and Vince Paredes (Schools Interoperability Framework Association) gave the Forum an overview of the Forum’s Education Data Model: PK-12, Version 1. This project is producing a comprehensive local education conceptual data model that will provide a national standard with which schools can evaluate and improve software tools, facilitate the movement of student information from one Local Educational Agency (LEA) to another and to the State Education Agency (SEA), inform instruction and enhance data quality.

Forum developers anticipate that the model can be used to guide the selection or construction of instructional delivery systems, data-driven decision making systems, operations systems, reporting systems, and other education-related systems. Thus, it is expected that this conceptual data model will serve as a national standard to vendors and developers as they build a variety of education data systems.

The Data Model is contained in an XML data file that can be manipulated to fit the needs of a state, district, or school. Instead of building a system driven by immediate reporting needs, the Data Model identifies what questions the data should be answering and builds the elements based on those information needs. The task force is eager to receive comments on the Data Model. Public comment will be welcomed from March 15 - May 15, 2008. For more information about the work of the PK-12 Data Model Task Force, visit PK-12 Data Model Task Force.

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Joint Session #2: FERPA Update

Leroy Rooker of the Family Policy and Compliance Office spoke to the Forum regarding the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Earlier this year the U.S. Department of Education released new brochures with guidance on FERPA regulations. These brochures did not include any new information but attempted to explain the current law from both LEA and SEA perspectives. The Family Policy and Compliance Office expects to release new FERPA regulations by or before summer 2008. Once these regulations are available, they will be released on the Federal Register for a 60 day comment period. The new regulations are expected to address issues of sharing information between SEAs and in emergency situations, as well as issues with independent researchers. Mr. Rooker directed Forum members to FERPA@ed.gov if they have any additional questions.

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National Education Statistics Agenda Committee (NESAC)
Monday, February 25, 2008

Introductions and Agenda Review
Committee Chair Linda Rocks (Bossier Parish Schools, LA) called the meeting to order and reviewed the agenda. New Forum members introduced themselves to the committee, and the current roster was circulated through the committee for review and updates.

Teacher Compensation Survey
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the U.S. Department of Education is developing an administrative records survey to “collect a little bit of data on each public school teacher.” For the first time, compensation and personal characteristic data are being collected on individual teachers. The Teachers Compensation Survey (TCS) is the first national collection of individual teaches salaries, health benefits, and retirement data. In 2007, NCES launched a pilot data collection, and received data from seven states, totaling nearly 500,000 records. The states participating in the pilot study included Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, and Oklahoma. It is anticipated that twenty states will be participating in the TCS in 2008, totaling 1.5 million records. The 2008 TCS collects data for the 2006-07 school year from the seven states in the pilot study and Texas, New York, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, Minnesota, Maine, Idaho, Kentucky, and Louisiana. Tennessee, New Jersey, and Alabama are in the final stages of agreeing to participate as well. NCES is producing a First Look Report on the Pilot TCS in the spring of 2008 and releasing a public use data file that summarizes major variables by district and school. In 2008, NCES will also be producing a Research and Development Report on the TCS.

Attendance Working Group Update
Bill Smith (Sioux Falls School District, SD) provided the committee with an update on the Attendance working group. The working group was originally formed to discuss truancy but discovered that it was nearly impossible to define truancy due to the way it is dependent on state policies and local laws. The group reframed itself under the umbrella of attendance and is working on a "best practice" guide that will present an exhaustive attendance code taxonomy and explain the importance of using detailed codes in supplying actionable data. The group is still looking for additional examples and will need reviewers. At the request of the working group, NESAC approved them for task force status. A finished document should be available in November 2008.

Task Order Update: Idaho
Idaho received a Task Order for $50,000 to update their data systems, the Idaho Basic Education Data System (IBEDS). The work will include conducting a needs assessment, completing statewide longitudinal data system (SLDS) tasks, and working on four technology initiatives. The project has considerable state buy-in to supplement the project with a data mart rewrite and a unique student identifier pilot.

UMIRS Update and Discussion
Helene Bettencourt (Massachusetts Department of Education) and Sonya Edwards (California Department of Education) gave the committee a brief overview of the Uniform Management Information and Reporting System (UMIRS) data collection for the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools. This is a state level collection that provides information to the public and policy makers about programs funded through the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Advisory (SDFSCA) State Grants Program. States have been invited to send program area and data staff to participate in regional meetings regarding the collection.

  • UMIRS collects data in four major areas:
    • Truancy rates.
    • Violence and drug related incidents leading to expulsion.
    • Violence and drug related behaviors.
    • Programs funded through Title 4.
  • Definitions collected by UMIRS are not the same as elements collected through EDEN.
  • State truancy definitions vary widely and are not always compliant with the definition asked for in UMIRS.
  • UMRIS is presented as guidelines for data collection. The document being circulated by the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, Uniform Data Set: A Guide to Measure for UMRIS, indicates that it is a required collection but gives no timeline as of now for its implementation.
  • The Forum document, Safety in Numbers, explains how to collect some of the information required by UMIRS. It addresses issues at the local level and lays out how to collect data at the incident level.

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Personnel Exchange: Alaska
Staff members from the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development took advantage of the NCES Personnel Exchange to inform the development of their longitudinal data system. The team, consisting of the IT Manager, the LDS Project Manager, the Assessment/EDFacts Coordinator, and a Programmer, visited the South Carolina Department of Education and the Tennessee Department of Education. The Alaska team found a perfect balance between organized presentation and individual discussion that could not be had at a conference, on the phone, or via webex. The team was able to find answers to a lot of their technical questions. The goals of the trip were to gain detailed information on:

  • Data governance.
  • Warehouse scheme.
  • Portal development.
  • SIF development.
"Talking with people at conferences is one thing, but being showed what is happening on the ground is very powerful!" The process for states or districts to go on a personnel exchange is rather simple. Visit the NCES Personnel Exchange website for more information.

Implementing New Race/Ethnicity Codes in Massachusetts
Helene Bettencourt (Massachusetts Department of Education) and Tom Stella (Everett Public Schools, MA) shared with the committee their experiences implementing the U.S. Department of Education’s new race/ethnicity codes.

  • Massachusetts was aware that the change was on its way and did not want to get caught in a situation where they were not prepared. They started to plan for and implement the new codes in 2004.
  • The new codes allow for the selection of one or more races for a possible combination of 62 different race/ethnicities.
  • The Massachusetts Department of Education remained conscious of current elements in LEA data systems. In order not to make a huge shift that would result in the LEAs having to switch vendors or make significant changes, the Massachusetts DOE used the same two digit coding system that had been in place for previous race/ethnicity collections.
  • The Massachusetts DOE provided sample letters to LEAs that could be altered to serve their needs. These letters could be sent to the parents in each school district to explain and ask for the new race/ethnicity collection. The LEAs were able to translate the letters into multiple languages to meet their needs.
  • The Massachusetts DOE also provided an online Frequently Asked Questions document, as a resource for LEAs, schools, and the public.
  • With the new collection and additional data quality checks in place, Massachusetts did not see a significant shift in the reporting categories of its students.
  • Everett Public Schools did not have any significant problems moving to the new collection. The new forms were pre-populated and sent home to parents of all K-8 students. High school students were asked to fill their forms out in their homeroom. Everett had a 100 percent return rate.
  • Software updates and data entry were completed over the summer.
  • Everett Public Schools set up a central parent information center, which included translator support, that was able to assist parents in filling out their forms. This increased the comfort level for parents and information was collected easily.

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LEA/SEA Breakout
NESAC Committee Members were divided into state education agency (SEA) representatives and local education agency (LEA) representatives for the purpose of holding focused discussions on the implementation of the new race/ethnicity codes.

Linda Rocks (Bossier Parish Schools, LA) led the LEA discussion.

  • Have you received any information from your SEA regarding implementing the new race/ethnicity codes?
    • LEAs have had limited, if any, communication from SEAs on the new codes. Only three LEAs out of the 12 present had heard anything about the changes.
    • There seems to be substantial misunderstanding about what the federal regulations actually are.
  • Are LEAs considering resurveying their districts? If so, why is that important?
    • This remains a sensitive issue, but resurveying is important to gain the correct information on the racial/ethnic makeup of schools. Many districts will give last years info back to parents and let them update it as needed.
    • For districts/states that re-enroll students every year, a resurvey would not be necessary, but a district could incorporate the new codes into the new enrollment.
    • Code switching may present a significant problem.
  • What would be expected/desired state communication about this issue?
    • Massachusetts is great example of state to district communication.
    • Descriptions of ethnic categories would also be helpful.
  • What do you think will be the most challenging issues in implementing the new collection?
    • Vendor issues, including cost, size, and ability.
    • Resurveying is a big issue depending on size of the district and the current vendor.
    • Staff time and salaries—full time staff is needed to implement collections that costs time and money.

Helene Bettencourt (Massachusetts Department of Education) led the SEA discussion.

  • What has your state done to start implementing the new race/ethnicity codes?
    • SEAs are still in the process of starting to make the change. In most states more work needs to be completed in order to undertake the change.
    • Massachusetts is a great example of how to convey the information to districts.
    • States often feel that they do not have all the information they need to share with their districts.
  • What challenges are you facing or anticipating with respect to implementing the new race/ethnicity codes?
    • Bridging and mapping.
    • Decisions on how to collect reporting categories.
    • Inaccurate data shift due to the new reporting.
    • Handling the “why” and technical questions from LEAs.
    • Getting the form letter through the legal department.

The committee then came together as a group.

  • Both states and districts would find it helpful if, at the national level, definitions for categories and codes could be provided in order to simplify vendor issues.
  • The Forum task force hopes to have their document ready for the July conference. A draft will be out for review soon.
  • The Forum document will include:
    • Coding Options.
    • Both SEA and LEA perspective.
  • Some states require additional ethnicities to be broken out (e.g., Asian subgroups). It would be helpful to have federal guidance on how to roll up these categories.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Joint Session Review: Education : Pk-12, Version 1
Jeff Stowe (Arizona Department of Education), Glenn McClain (Platte Valley Schools, Weld RE-7, CO), and Vince Paredes (Schools Interoperability Framework Association) gave the committee an overview of the Forum’s Education Data Model: PK-12, Version 1 and took questions. The task force is eager to receive comments about the Data Model, which will be open for comments from March 15-May 15.

Some states have implemented the E-Scholar model… Has the Forum’s Data Model incorporated this information?

  • Since vendors, including E-Scholar, will be implementing the model, they have been and will continue to be very involved in the development of the Data Model.
  • Vendors will be able to crosswalk the data model to their own work.

Will this Data Model grow to include P-20?

  • One of the reasons for the name change to the Education Data Model: PK-12 version 1 was to prepare for the possibility of additional models, including the post secondary piece.
  • The task force wanted to be able to facilitate efforts to include postsecondary. As states move to include post secondary, the data model can also evolve.
  • As part of their review of the model, states should make sure that the current entities and attributes match their post secondary needs. The model should be comprehensive enough to answer all the relevant questions.

Is there an indicator for longitudinal data needs?

  • There is not a specific longitudinal indicator, but the elements and the base is there to be longitudinal. The model is flexible enough to get longitudinal data.

Are assessment scores captured in the model?

  • Assessment scores are listed in the model. Specific vendors are not listed but assessment scores can be found by type.
  • The assessment class includes formative and summative.
  • The assessment area needs to be expanded for college entrance and reporting categories.

Is the Data Model functional for school districts as well as states?

  • Not all school systems will be capable of using the Data Model.
  • Schools will need a less technical description of the Data Model. Perhaps a FAQ or review guide would be helpful for smaller school districts.
  • There may be efforts to develop a follow up Data Model Curriculum.

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Joint Session Review: FERPA Follow up
LeRoy Rooker of the Family Policy and Compliance Office joined the committee to discuss the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and answer any additional questions from the morning’s session.

  • Earlier this year the U.S. Department of Education released new guidance for interpreting FERPA. These guides are intended to clarify the laws and get information out to states, districts, and schools. They do not include new information.
  • Sharing directory information directly with a vendor is not a FERPA issue. This is a permissible discloser and is guided by state laws. Districts can charge for the production of that data.
  • Most high school students still live at home and are claimed on their parent’s tax return; thus parents have full access to their data. Emancipated students represent a small minority. Offering students the opportunity to grant their parents access to their records once they turn 18 may raise more issues than it resolves.
  • In child custody cases, schools do not have to provide any information to non-custodial parents. Under FERPA laws, a school has 45 days to provide records to a parent; schools and/or districts can require documentation from the non-custodial parent. If a child’s safety is a concern, a school/district can refuse to release the child’s address and phone number.
  • “Do not disclose” agreements for directory information extend beyond graduation. “Opt out” agreements should be conducted annually.
  • USED is working on additional guidance for determining the use of HIPPA v. FERPA. In general, medical records that are in a school’s possession are covered under FERPA.

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

LEA Implementation of the Data Quality Curriculum
Steve Smith (Cambridge Public Schools, MA) told the committee how he was able to implement the Forum’s Data Quality Curriculum at the local level in Cambridge Massachusetts. Steve came to the Cambridge public schools after leaving Maine where he was an LEA Representative to the Forum. One of his first actions in the new district was to institute Data Quality training in an effort to create a culture of data quality.

  • He conducted regular monthly meetings with the different audiences and used the Forum’s DQ Curriculum. Previously, staff in the district never understood what the data they were collecting was used for or what their role was in the process.
  • The monthly meetings featured different lessons from the DQ Curriculum.
    • Before-After-Next Chart.
    • Education data culture scenarios to discuss the implications of misreporting.
    • Concept map and knowledge of roles.
  • The meetings had an immediate impact—there was improved understanding how data makes a difference.

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CCSSO Update
Deborah Newby (Council of Chief State School Officers) joined the committee to give an update about recent activities at CCSSO.

The Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC) is a service of CCSSO to provide up-to-date information on national data and assessment issues to chief state school officers. EIMAC holds two annual meetings (in the spring and fall) and has a membership of 47 states. EIMAC has four subcommittees (Assessment, General Statistics, Longitudinal Data Systems, and Special Education) and three task forces. For more information visit EIMAC.

  • A key topic of discussion at the Fall EIMAC meeting was student e-transcripts. EIMAC organized a working group to discuss this topic and produce guidance on this issue.
  • EIMAC is also working on a Roadmap to Longitudinal Data Systems. The Roadmap identifies key areas of need for longitudinal data systems. EIMAC will be convening workshops around the key areas based on state need. This work will collaborate with the Forum’s LDS task force as a resource for states and districts building and maintaining robust data systems.

The National Education Data Partnership is a collaboration created to help transform the way education information is collected, shared, and used. Initially launched in August 2004, the NEDP continues to be funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

  • The State Education Data Center (SEDC) is a leading voice on public education data. Its work focuses on serving as a national advocacy leader for quality education data collection, standards, and use; and serving as the nation’s provider of a free, easy-to-use website featuring state education data and analytic tools.
  • The SEDC’s Advisory Council of chiefs, national data collectors, and national education policy organizations will refine and enhance the national conversation on the appropriate collection, use, and analysis of state education data.
  • The Coordinated Data Ask (CDA) is a collaborative effort of CCSSO, the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) partners, and the U.S. Department of Education to develop a single data collection template of the data elements most commonly requested from the State Education Agencies (SEA).
  • The Decision Support Architecture Consortium work is a partnership between CCSSO and CELT to promote collaboration among state and district education leaders by advising them on the use of business processes to improve planning and develop frameworks for the effective use of student information.

MSIX Update

Office of Civil Rights Data Collection Update

Steering Committee Report

Chair, Linda Rocks, gave an update of Steering Committee activities and asked for issues that NESAC thought should be brought to the Steering Committee.

  • Is there a way to issue fewer task orders, but for more money? Task orders used to be issued for $80,000 and are now at $50,000.
  • How can we improve coordination with higher education.
  • Items of common interest should be delivered to the full group with follow questions in the subcommittees. Ongoing issues do not need to be updated in joint sessions.

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Policies, Programs and Implementation (PPI)
Monday, February 25, 2008

Introductions and Agenda Review
Chair Levette Williams (Georgia Department of Education) called the PPI committee to order and reviewed the agenda.

Opening Session Review and Discussion
Levette led a discussion about the Using Forum Products in Local Education Agencies by Tom Purwin. Committee members shared their experiences using Forum products in their agencies.

Special Task Order Reports
Kay Ihlenfeldt (Wisconsin Department of Education) gave a report on their task order funding regarding improving the quality of input to a Statewide Longitudinal Data System. Jay Pennington (Iowa Department of Education) gave a report on their task order funding regarding data reporting needs assessment.

Crisis Data Management Update
Challis Breithaupt (Maryland State Department of Education) provided an update on behalf of the working group. The working group has met twice since the summer meeting. The group’s product will focus on the data items and management surrounding the displacement of students due to a crisis. Challis shared a draft table of contents of the final product, which is on schedule to be completed by the fall of 2008. PPI then voted to approve task force status for the group.

Race/ethnicity Task Force Update
Bethann Canada (Virginia Department of Education) discussed the current status of the task force and its focus. The group expects that by the end of April 2008 they will be looking for the full Forum to review the document.

Teacher Compensation Survey

Task Force Approval
Attendance Working Group - Bill Smith (Sioux Falls School District, SD) reported that the NESAC Committee had voted to forward their Request to Form an Attendance Task Force to PPI. PPI voted 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 Attendance Task Force.

PK-20 System Sharing and Communications
Levette Williams opened a session on PK-20 data and system sharing. The following presenters came to talk with PPI regarding this topic: Deborah Newby, CCSSO (Early Childhood Education Data Systems and Data Sharing with National Data Collectors), Nancy Smith, Data Quality Campaign (Data Sharing with Other Public Agencies), and Larry Fruth, Schools Interoperability Framework Association (PK-20 Electronic Sharing).

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Joint Session Review and Discussion: FERPA
The group had an opportunity to speak directly with Leroy Rooker, USED, and ask follow-up questions after his joint session presentation.

Joint Session Review and Discussion: PK-12 Data Model
The group had an opportunity to speak directly with the two chairs of the Data Model Task Force (Glenn McClain and Jeff Stowe), and ask follow-up questions after their joint session presentation.

SCED Codes in Iowa
Iowa gave a presentation on the use of the NCES Course Codes in the state. These codes have been used to collect electronic course code information since 1994. Iowa will be instituting the new NCES Secondary School Course Classification System: School Codes for the Exchange of Data (SCED) codes in the fall of 2008.

Task Force Approval
Longitudinal Data Systems – Bruce Dacey (Delaware Department of Education), chair of the Working Group, reported that the TECH Committee had voted to forward their Request to Form 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 Longitudinal Data Systems Task Force.

Data Ethics – Tom Purwin (Jersey City Public Schools, NJ), chair of the Working Group, reported that the TECH Committee had voted to forward their Request to Form 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 Data Ethics Task Force.

Update on MSIX

Update on the Civil Rights Data Collection and EDEN
Ross Santy (USED) gave an update of the Civil Rights Data Collection and its future in the Education Data Exchange Network (EDEN) at USED. The next cycle of Civil Rights survey will remain a sample data collection with no content changes. Ross reported that CCSSO’s Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC) will create some sort of working group that will meet to discuss this issue. The group will include local, state, and federal staff. The first meeting will be held in April 2008.

Future PPI Planning
Levette Williams led a discussion on potential agenda items for the summer Forum meeting. Issues discussed included: a panel on states and districts implementing the Forum’s Data Quality Curriculum; measurement of student achievement and how it relates to staff development; data literacy of school and district staff; data literacy by level of data user; issues from Homeland Security; and SCED codes that are core for highly qualified teachers.

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Technology (TECH) Standing Committee
Monday, February 25, 2008

Introductions and Agenda Review
Chair Kathy Gosa (Kansas State Department of Education) called the meeting to order and reviewed the meeting agenda.

Vice Chair Affirmation
TECH members affirmed the appointment of Tom Purwin (Jersey City Public Schools, NJ) as the TECH Vice Chair. He assumes the position vacated by Steve Smith, the LEA representative from Maine who switched jobs and needed to resign his Forum membership, although Steve will still participate in some task force activities.

CCSSO EIMAC & NEDP Update
Deborah Newby, who represents the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) as an associate member of the Forum, shared an update on the status of two CCSSO projects of particular interest to TECH members: the Education Information Advisory Council (EIMAC) and the National Education Data Partnership (NEDP).

EIMAC has forty-five participating state members and is responsible for reporting to chief state school officers on national data and assessment issues. It supports four subcommittees (Assessment, General Statistics, Special Education, and Longitudinal Data Systems) and three task forces (GenStat/EDFacts, Assessment/NAEP, and Longitudinal Student Data Systems). EIMAC members meet twice per year and communicate more regularly via briefs, listservs, and other online tools. For more information visit CCSSO’s EIMAC.

NEDP is helping to transform the way education information is collected, shared, and used by states, educators, policymakers, superintendents, and parents. As a component of the NEDP, the CCSSO State Education Data Center has established www.SchoolDataDirect.org, a robust web-based analytical service for state education data. It offers unique comparison tools, ratios, benchmarks, and performance indicators designed to assist decision makers in better understanding what is happening in our nation’s school systems, how much we are spending, and where we can focus to improve performance. The site has a new feature that enables users to download education data from across the nation from a single website. CCSSO is currently working with the U.S. Department of Education to provide a public interface for EdFacts data.

Another component of the NEDP is the Coordinated Data Ask, a collaborative effort with the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) and the U.S. Department of Education to develop a single collection template of the data elements most commonly requested from State Education Agencies (SEA). Version 1.0 was released in June 2007 and the project is currently working to evaluate its usage to date.

Finally, Deborah reported on the work of the Decision Support Architecture Consortium II (DSAC-II), a CCSSO partnership with the Center for Educational Leadership and Technology (CELT) to promote collaboration among state and district education leaders by advising them on the use of business processes to improve planning and develop frameworks for the effective use of student information. The DSAC-II framework is now complete. The source code for the DSAC-II application is available, and access to the hosted application is available to participating districts and states.

Task Order Update
The National Center for Education Statistics awarded fiscal year (FY) 2008 State Cooperative System Task Order Awards for $50,000 to three states: Iowa, Wisconsin, and Idaho. The purpose of the awards is to improve federal-state cooperation in data collection, processing, and analysis. Although no TECH states received an FY 2008 award, Kathy Gosa updated TECH members on an FY 2007 award Kansas is still working on: Improving the Quality of Data Submitted by Kansas LEAs.

The activities of the Kansas task order are focused on increasing the quality of data submitted by schools and districts to the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE). The Data Quality Certification initiative is addressing these challenges by implementing a data quality professional development program for LEA staff, and by providing recognition to those who complete the programs. Currently, the DQC Project Coordinator and task force members are in the process of analyzing the data from the DQC pilot programs and planning the 2008 DQC programs. Post-pilot evaluation forms were distributed to the staff members who participated in the program in order to assess the most and least effective aspects of pilot certification processes. These data will be summarized and presented to the NCES Forum at a future date, and will also be used in the development of the updated 2008 DQC.

TECH members asked, generally, whether it is possible for the Forum website to include more than just project abstracts for the task order awards. More specifically, TECH thought it would be helpful if materials and tools developed through the awards could be made available to all states and districts. TECH will forward this request to NCES.

Task Force and Working Group Updates
Race/Ethnicity Task Force: Bethann Canada (Virginia Dept of Education) reported that the group expects to have a document ready for final Forum approval by June 2008 and hopes to have the document printed and released by the fall.

Metadata Task Force: Tom Ogle (Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) reported that the group expects to produce a public review draft of the Forum Guide to Metadata prior to the Summer 2008 Forum Meeting.

Longitudinal Data Systems Working Group: Bruce Dacey (Delaware Department of Education) presented a request to form a Longitudinal Data Systems Task Force. TECH approved the request and advanced it to PPI which, with the agreement of the Steering Committee, later approved the formation of the Longitudinal Data Systems Task Force.

Data Ethics Working Group: Tom Purwin (Jersey City Schools, NJ) presented a request to form a Data Ethics Task Force. TECH approved the request and advanced it to PPI which, with the agreement of the Steering Committee, later approved the formation of the Data Ethics Task Force.

Online Data Quality Curriculum
Larry Fruth, the Executive Director of the Schools Interoperability Framework Association (SIFA), reported that the online version of the Forum Curriculum for Improving Education Data developed by the Forum will be available at no cost later this spring or early summer through SIFA University.

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TECH Publication Needs
Kathy Gosa led a discussion regarding updates to the TECH sponsored Forum publications. While all Forum publications should be subject to periodic review and update, the nature of our technology publications makes them especially vulnerable to becoming out-of-date. TECH members are reviewing our documents to determine whether any of them should be updated, retired, or “unretired” as the case might be. Members reviewed two publications prior to the meeting (Safeguarding Your Technology and Weaving a Secure Web Around Education) and found that both still provided accurate guidance. But, there are two problems with these publications: 1) they have old publication dates (e.g., Safeguarding Your Technology is a 1998 publication), which makes them appear less relevant considering their focus on the ever-changing field of technology; and 2) they have been “retired” from the Forum website in favor of the Forum Unified Education Technology Suite, although they are still accessible via the NCES Publications Page. Moreover, many of TECH’s “retired” publications are downloaded more than our “active” publications.

TECH Publication Title PDF downloads (or home page visits) July–Dec 2007

“Active” TECH Publications

Forum Guide to Decision Support Systems (2006)

1,377

Forum Guide to Elementary/Secondary Virtual Education (2006)

890

Forum Unified Education Technology Suite (2005)

1,678

“Retired” TECH Publications

Weaving a Secure Web Around Education: A Guide to Technology Standards and Security (2003)

1,490

Technology in Schools: Suggestions, Tools and Guidelines for Assessing Technology in Elementary and Secondary Education (2002)

7,264

Safeguarding Your Technology: Practical Guidelines for Electronic Education Information Security (1998)

1,696

It was suggested that the Forum consider a term to replace “retired” given that the publications really aren’t retired when they can still be downloaded via the NCES publications page. Perhaps it would be more accurate to refer to old publications as “deprecated” which means “to discourage usage of a particular software feature… because it has been outdated by newer constructs.”

TECH is considering whether to support the individual publications rather than the Forum Unified Education Technology Suite which, though intended to replace the stand-alone publications, does not get accessed nearly as much. Once some of TECH’s current task forces complete their work this fall (e.g., Race/Ethnicity and Metadata), TECH members would like to revisit and/or update several of these publications. TECH believes that these are useful resources and that having a small group update them will not take more than a few months worth of work. Doing so would be a good use of Forum resources and good for the education data community given how much these publications are currently being accessed. For example, Safeguarding Your Technology could probably add some text about analytical tools that have been developed beyond OLAP, given a new date, and re-released without too large of a commitment in time and resources.

TECH Professional Development: Cell Size Suppression
Patsy Eiland (Alabama Department of Education) and Bethann Canada (Virginia Department of Education) provided a professional development presentation to TECH members about cell size suppression. They reviewed basic assumptions about privacy that make cell size a reporting issue and identified the range of cell size conventions used in state AYP reporting (14 states use a minimum n of 5 or 6; 21 states use a minimum n of 10; and at least one state uses a minimum n of 31). After reviewing several reporting tables that illustrated why cell size suppression is a critical tool for protecting individual privacy, Patsy and Bethann noted that if the value of a cell can be restored by simple arithmetic, then suppression is not an adequate solution.

MSIX Update
Jeff Stowe (Arizona Department of Education) updated TECH members on the U.S. Department of Education’s Migrant Student Records Exchange Initiative (MSIX). MSIX is a web-based portal that will link states’ migrant student record databases to facilitate the national exchange of migrant students’ educational and health information. MSIX will not replace existing migrant student information systems, but will produce a single “consolidated record” for each migrant child that contains information from each state in which the child was ever enrolled—including those data elements necessary for the proper enrollment, grade and course placement, and accrual of credits for migrant children.

Major MSIX accomplishments in 2007 included: 66 Minimum Data Elements (MDEs) were finalized and cleared as a required OMB Information Collection; technical development was finalized; four MSIX train-the-trainer user groups were conducted; MEP State Directors were given access (username and password) to MSIX; MSIX version 2.00 was launched in December; a MSIX Community Listserv was activated; and the MSIX State Data Quality Grant Notice of Proposed Priority was drafted and is in clearance. MSIX is currently providing migrant test and live data files, evaluating migrant data files for proper formatting, loading migrant data files into MSIX, and verifying that the data records loaded correctly. Prior to the end of calendar year 2008, MSIX expects to publish regulations, encourage the use of MSIX data, share records exchange best practices from states, and update MEP non-regulatory guidance with MSIX information.

For more information visit MSIX or email MSIXTeam@ed.gov.

NCES Teacher Compensation Survey

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

TECH Professional Development: Error Reporting Improvements in Tennessee
Corey Chatis (Tennessee Department of Education) and Sohil Patel (a TN contractor from Oracle) offered a professional development presentation to TECH members about error reporting in Tennessee. The session focused on the exchange of data between local education agencies (LEAs) and the state education agency (SEA) and identified methods of improving reporting about errors that occur while loading data into the SEA system. Corey and Sohil presented seven tenets for effective error reporting:

  1. Implementation Process – follow a sound (documented, standardized) business process;
  2. Timeliness – error reporting should happen in a timely manner;
  3. Informative – error reporting should clearly and completely indicate errors;
  4. Dynamic – errors that are fixed should not appear again;
  5. Security – rejected data should be secured;
  6. Fix and Re-submit – data owners should be able to fix the data feed and re-submit; and,
  7. Relevant – only data with the error needs re-submission and dependent data should not require re-submission.

Extended Discussion about the PK-12 Data Model
Jeff Stowe (Arizona Department of Education), Glenn McClain (Platte Valley Schools, Weld RE-7, CO), and Vince Paredes (Schools Interoperability Framework Association) followed up on the Forum joint session they offered on Monday afternoon so that TECH members could ask questions in greater detail.

TECH Professional Development: Open Discussion and Next Steps
Kathy Gosa (Kansas State Department of Education) led a discussion about what TECH felt about the professional development series that was begun at the meeting. Patsy Eiland (Alabama Department of Education) and Bethann Canada (Virginia Department of Education) offered one session on cell size suppression and Corey Chatis (Tennessee Department of Education) and Sohil Patel (Oracle) provided a session on Error Reporting Improvements in Tennessee. TECH members appreciated the opportunities to learn from their peers through these professional development sessions. At future meetings, we will want to add 15-20 minutes at the end of each presentation to allow members to discuss whether and how the topic is handled in their organizations. Depending on the topic, TECH could even break into small groups for follow up discussions. In addition to professional development sessions, TECH members thought that roundtable discussions could be hosted on any of these topics as well.

Suggestions for future TECH professional development included:

  • User Acceptance Testing – Do any SEAs or LEAs have effective processes for conducting user acceptance testing? How do MIS staff involve program area staff in testing system changes?
  • Change History – How do SEAs and LEAs deal with data that are corrected after a report has been published? E.g., What happens when a district notifies the state that there was an error in the student enrollment counts submitted three years earlier? Especially if it was an undercount and the district wants the data changed so that their funding gets increased retroactively.
  • SEA/LEA Communications – How are changes in regulations, standards, system requirements, submission deadlines, etc., most effectively communicated between states and districts?
  • Security Barriers – How are organizations transferring data outside their intranets? What is the state-of-the-art with respect to secure FTP, email, encryption and other practices and technologies?
  • Service Oriented Architecture – How is service oriented architecture changing how systems are designed and managed in education organizations?
  • Product Comparisons – What are the pros and cons (in the eyes of Forum members) about some of the numerous commercial products commonly used in SEAs and LEAs?

Summer 2008 TECH Professional Development Sessions will include:

#1) Bethann Canada (Virginia Department of Education) and Lee Rabbit (North Kingstown School Department, RI) will offer a presentation about Section 508 Accessibility Standards—How are SEAs and LEAs incorporating these standards in the websites and web applications?

#2) Kathy Gosa (Kansas State Department of Education) will lead a session on Secure Transmissions. She will survey TECH members prior in order to determine who is using FTP, secure FTP, email, encryption and other practices and technologies. It would be good if an LEA representative would volunteer to collaborate on this presentation.

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Forum Program

TECH members noted that they liked that the Forum Member Handbook PDF file (356 KB) was included in the meeting program. They thought that standing committee agendas should be included \ in the future if possible.

Implementing the Forum Data Quality Curriculum in a Local Education Agency
Steve Smith (Cambridge Public Schools, MA) described how he was using the Forum Curriculum for Improving Education Data in the Cambridge (MA) Public Schools. Steve explained that he has incorporated the curriculum into a new professional development program for district and school staff. He’s found that doing so has increased the “professionalism” in data entry clerks now that they have a better sense of how the data they enter are being used throughout the district, state, and nation. Steve welcomed TECH members to contact him (ssmith@cpsd.us) for more details about the program.

Implementing the Forum Data Quality Curriculum in a State Education Agency
Kathy Gosa (Kansas State Department of Education) followed Steve Smith’s presentation with a look at how Kansas is implementing the Forum Curriculum for Improving Education Data at the state level. She explained that the curriculum was a cornerstone of the new Kansas Individual Data on Students (KIDS) Data Quality Certification Program. Year one of the program focused on data entry staff and data coordinators. Each track included 4-5 required courses, associated “homework” assignments for each course, and a final (online) exam. This curriculum relied on numerous objectives identified in the Forum resource as well as the document’s role-based tip sheets, errors worksheets, data dictionary entries, FERPA guidance, and calendaring activities. The 2008 program will add certification tracks for administrators and assessment and enrollment program staff.

Challenge: Using Forum Products in Local and State Education Agencies
Tom Purwin (Jersey City Public Schools, NJ) reviewed the responsibilities of being a Forum member, which include publicizing Forum work (e.g., publications) within members’ home districts and states, as well as at relevant professional meetings. Tom then facilitated a discussion about obstacles to using Forum products in state and local education agencies. TECH members identified issues such as organizational and communications barriers between data and IT staff in some agencies and the absence of effective state-local communications mechanisms in some states. Many TECH members explained that they did publicize Forum products in the home organizations and a state and/local conferences and meetings.

Summer 2008 TECH Meeting Planning
TECH will continue with professional development sessions as initiated at the Winter 2008 Forum. Bethann Canada (Virginia Department of Education) and Lee Rabbit (North Kingstown School Department, RI) will offer a presentation about Section 508 Accessibility Standards and Kathy Gosa (Kansas State Department of Education) will find a collaborator to lead a session on Secure Transmissions.

TECH will plan next steps for updating existing TECH publications, hopefully beginning in the fall of 2008 if resources are available for the work at that time.

TECH is interested in exploring several other issues at future meetings:

  • The status and progress of work undertaken by the LDS Grantee states. Although it may be difficult to get separate updates from each of the 27 grantee states, there should be some venue for learning what progress is being made with these grant funds. This preference will be forwarded to the Steering Committee for consideration and action.
  • E-transcripts, including services offered by vendors. EIMAC may be working on this issue and we may wish to ask for information from them.
  • SIF penetration in states and school districts (a survey or report from Larry Fruth). Secondarily, how is SIF being introduced in RFPs and other technical requirements in states and districts?

TECH would like to ask the Steering Committee to consider requiring that all new publications be adapted as units for the Forum Curriculum for Improving Education Data.

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Closing Session
Tuesday, February 26, 2008

NCES Update

Mark Schneider, Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), updated Forum members on recent business and coming plans at NCES and the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Mr. Schneider acknowledged the hard work of the Forum and thanked everyone for their ongoing efforts. Forum projects are extremely important and will help with issues of interoperability and state capacity.

Dr. Schneider explained that the period between 2000 and 2008 has been revolutionary in many ways in the field of education data. During this time, we’ve seen the development of statewide longitudinal data systems and the use of administrative records for determining what works in the field of education.

The Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) program is continuing to expand with thirteen new grants awarded in fiscal year 2007. NCES anticipates that a new round of SLDS grants may be available depending on the 2009 budget. The new round will likely focus on linking K-12 to higher education.

Finally, Dr. Schneider reported that the High School Longitudinal Study is in its 4th generation and NCES is looking to add a post secondary longitudinal study. The Early Childhood Longitudinal study was completed in 2007 with the cohort of students entering the 8th grade. A new cohort will begin in 2010. NCES would also like to add a longitudinal study to focus on the middle years.

Task Force/Working Group Progress Reports

Standing Committee Progress Reports

Meeting Evaluations

Forum members share their opinions on the Winter 2008 Forum Meeting by completing evaluations.

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Steering Committee

NCES Winter Forum 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008

Welcome and Opening Comments
Chair Susan VanGorden (Lakota Local School District, Ohio) opened the Steering Committee and welcomed members to the 2008 Winter Forum Meeting.

Working Group and Task Force Action (1)
PPI approved the formation of the Attendance Task Force and Crisis Data Management Task Force (from Working Group status) on Monday afternoon. The Steering Committee affirmed this action and both groups became task forces.

Opening Session
The Steering Committee was very pleased with the Opening Session presentation Using Forum Products in Local Education Agencies (Tom Purwin, Jersey City Public Schools, New Jersey). This emphasis on using Forum products was timely and illustrated how helpful Forum products can be in schools and school districts. It was also good to have a general session that so clearly focused on LEA needs.

The Steering Committee would like to add a section to the Forum product web pages that lets users submit information about how they are using the Forum publication in their home organizations (state, local, or otherwise). Ghedam and Tom will check with NCES about how and whether this is feasible within existing NCES web management standards. Minimally, we could probably provide an email link, collect input from users, and share summaries periodically via the listserv.

NCES Teacher Compensation Survey
The NCES Teacher Compensation Survey Update was very good, but NCES will need feedback about the quality of data to be generated by this survey. This topic should be scheduled as a joint session (for all three standing committees) at the Summer 2008 Forum and, probably, again at the Winter 2009 Forum.

MSIX
TECH asked the Forum to send a letter to the MSIX project asking that MSIX communicate SEA data offices in addition to migrant staff in SEAs. MSIX is not just a migrant issue and SEA data staff need to be included in the planning, which has not occurred very well to date.

PK-12 Data Model Task Force Update
Steering Committee members were asked to give the data model products a thorough review (e.g., get multiple reviewers from their agencies) when the resource is released for review later this spring.

Intermediate Education Agencies
Some states have intermediate education agencies (in addition to state and local agencies) that are vital to the flow of data and information. These organizations are clearly potential users of Forum products, and we may wish to investigate whether it makes sense to invite them to join the Forum. Roy Herrold of the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit (PA) currently is the Pennsylvania LEA representative to the Forum.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Roundtables
The Roundtables went very well, but some people thought that there might have been too many reporting sessions for each working group/task force, especially in light of standing committee reports given by the groups. Should we get rid of the lunch time session?

FERPA
The FERPA Update was good, but Forum members were disappointed that there was not any new information to share, although Mr. Rooker suggested that new guidance was fairly imminent.

Joint Sessions
Members seem to prefer joint sessions rather than having a speaker give separate presentations to multiple standing committees.

Longitudinal Data Systems (LDS) Grants
Members want to hear updates about the LDS projects in various states funded by the LDS Grants. Unfortunately, now that there are 27 grantee states, receiving individual reports is probably not possible within a two-day Forum meeting. We should provide pointers to LDS resources where Forum folks can learn more about activities in all LDS grantee states.

Task Force Approval Process
PPI asked that, in the future, working groups requesting task force status send their Task Force Approval Form and Product Development and Dissemination Plan at least one week prior to a Forum meeting so that PPI members can have time to review the materials before voting on them.

Task Orders
Steering Committee members mentioned that the FY 2008 Task Order awards were appreciated, but that it may be unrealistic to expect that $50,000 is enough to support a project of meaningful significance in an SEA. It was recommended that, in the future, fewer awards at higher amounts (e.g., back to $80,000) might be more useful.

Cooperative Agreements/Contracts
Can NCES use WebEx technology to train state staff about their cooperative system contract responsibilities? Ghedam Bairu and Lee Hoffman agreed to consider this suggestion and provide an update during the Summer 2008 Forum Meeting.

Postsecondary Links
K-20 (and beyond) is the future of education data. The Forum should actively incorporate perspectives on the flow of data to postsecondary institutions as a part of its work, even though the Forum is chartered with a K-12 focus. Minimally, the evolution and use of e-transcripts are vital to Forum work.

Standing Committee Agendas
The Steering Committee agreed that future Opening Sessions would include a brief review of each standing committee’s agenda for ensuing Forum meeting. This review would be limited to 2-3 minutes per standing committee and would be facilitated by PPT slides that show agenda items.

Orientation Session
We will have a full Orientation Session on Monday morning during the Summer 2008 Forum Meeting.

Closing Session
NCES Commissioner Mark Schneider gave a passionate, thorough, and enjoyable update of NCES activities and plans. Steering Committee members really appreciated the content and presentation of his remarks.

Forum Voice
Because of the many task forces currently supported by the Forum, the Spring 2008 issue of the Forum Voice should focus on the wide range of Forum task force work in progress.

Working Group and Task Force Action (2)
PPI reported that it approved the formation of the Data Ethics Task Force and Longitudinal Data Systems Task Force (from Working Group status) on Tuesday morning. The Steering Committee affirmed this action and both groups became task forces.

Meeting Evaluations
In the future, we should print meeting evaluations on colored paper so that they stand out better among all the other pieces of paper shared with Forum participants.

Next Conference Call
The Steering Committee will debrief the Winter 2008 Forum and begin planning the Summer 2008 Forum during its next conference call, tentatively scheduled for Thursday, March 20, at 1:00 p.m.

The Steering Committee would like to see the results of the Winter 2008 Forum meeting evaluations prior to this call.

 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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