The National Forum on Education Statistics (the Forum) is pleased to release this Guide, the latest in a series of publications designed to promote good practices relating to the collection, maintenance, and use of education data. The work was supported by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). As the statistics agency for the U.S. Department of Education, NCES maintains a cooperative education statistics system with the states to improve the quality, comparability, and uniformity of elementary and secondary school data. The Forum members are states, school districts, and other institutions that are major providers or consumers of education data. The Forums goal is to encourage cooperative data improvement at all levels of education governance.
In 1997, the Forum published Basic Data Elements for Elementary and Secondary Education Information Systems. That document recommended a set of basic data elements about students and school staff that, if maintained at the school, district, and state levels in a standardized format, would give decision makers comparable information upon which to base policy for promoting effective education. Other recent publications of the Forum include:
As part of its ongoing effort to promote data-driven educational policy decision-making, the Forum formed the Education Facilities Data Task Force. This Task Force met over a period of 3 years to identify and define the basic data elements related to public school facilities. It also identified a framework of indicators to answer important policy questions relating to the condition, design, utilization, management, and funding of school facilities. The Task Forces efforts culminated in this publication.
It is our hope that this Guide will contribute to the development of valid and comparable information on school facilities that will support the drafting of legislation, policy-making, research, and dissemination of information to government agencies, funding sources, and the general public.
Patricia Murphy, Budget Administrator
There are 96,000 public schools in the United States governed by 17,000 school districts in 50 states and the extra-state jurisdictions. Facilities planners and school district officials at the local level often do not have data systems that support the complex and demanding responsibilities of decision-making, planning, management, oversight, and funding of school buildings. Moreover, even when facilities data at the building level are maintained at the school or district level, these data may not be available to state education agencies. Thus, there is a missing link between the information maintained by facilities managers in school districts and the information needed for policy planning and implementation at the state and national level.
Within a district over time, as well as at the state level, facilities data and information are often maintained inconsistently. The data may be collected and organized in various formats, or different definitions may be used for the same terms. Therefore, while many states conduct facilities assessments, it is hard to generalize findings across states. Moreover, some states conduct facilities studies on a regular basis, while others use ad hoc surveys that assess specific needs but may not support future information needs.1 Without consistently defined indicators, policy makers cannot accurately assess the amount of funding needed for school construction, where funds for new schools are most needed, or whether funds are being spent efficiently or equitably.
This Guide has been developed to provide a framework for decision makers, school facility managers, and the public to identify a basic set of school facilities data elements, including definitions that will meet their information needs. Chapter 1 describes the purpose, scope, and intended audiences for this Guide. Chapter 2 describes how to use this Guide to develop a customized information system, including how the facilities data should link to other data systems. Chapter 3 examines some key measuressuch as school utilization, functional age, deferred maintenance, and expenditures per studentand discusses the challenges in standardizing the definitions of these terms. Chapter 4 lists hundreds of facility data elements, including standard definitions and options, categorized into six sections: identification, condition, design, utilization, management, and budget and finance. Chapter 5 identifies additional resources, including sources for data elements and their definitions, that will be helpful to those involved in compiling school facilities data.
1 Tiffanie Lee and Oona
Cheung, An Analysis of State Collection and Reporting on School Facilities
Data, Working Draft (Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School