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Virtual/Distance Education Task Force May 2004 Meeting Notes

May 17-18, 2004
Radisson Hotel
Washington, DC


Overview of the Forum
Overview of SETDA
Other Organizations Discussing Virtual Education
What is the Perceived Need?
What is the Product?
Next Steps
Possible Next Meetings


Blair Loudat (Chair), North Clackamas Schools (OR)
Derrick Lindsay, Mississippi Department of Education
Marilyn Grunewald, Franklin Central Supervisory Union (VT)
John Kennedy, Maine Department of Education
Mary Ann Wolf, State Educational Technology Directors Association
Connie Louie, Massachusetts Department of Education
Elizabeth Glowa, Maryland Department of Education
Steve Smith, Waterville Public Schools (ME)
Ghedam Bairu (Project Officer), National Center for Education Statistics
Andy Rogers, ESSI
Christina Saenz, ESSI
Tom Szuba, Quality Information Partners, Charlottesville, Virginia

Overview of the Forum

The Forum was created in response to a legislative mandate. It is sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education. It is committed to improving the quality, comparability, and usefulness of elementary and secondary education data, while remaining sensitive to data burden concerns.

  • Standing committees conduct the work of the Forum:
    • Technology, Dissemination, & Communication
    • National Education Statistics Agenda Committee (NESAC)
    • Policies, Programs and Implementation (PPI)
  • Forum produces handbooks to make recommendations about data standardization and technology integration.

Overview of SETDA

  • SETDA is two and a half years old. Its members include state directors of educational technology in all 50 states and corporate partners. The basic concepts behind the SETDA are for state directors of technology to help each other and to work together to solve education technology issues.
  • The National Leadership Institute was developed in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Education in order to discuss the different topics of interest to SETDA members, such as:
    • Building Partnerships and Leveraging Resources
    • Technology Leadership Skills for the 21 st century
    • Data collection Requirements/Data Driven Decision-making
    • High Quality Professional Develop: Teaching and Learning Using Technology
    • Virtual Schools and Distance Learning

Other Organizations Discussing Virtual Education

Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), North American Council for Online Learning (NACOL), and International Society for Technology in Education are all working on issues of distance learning.


What is the Perceived Need?

How should traditional data elements be modified in order to effectively manage and report on virtual education?

Education Data Flow Chart

  • The overarching purpose of this project is to align “traditional” education data elements with the needs and circumstances unique to virtual education. We will focus, particularly, on those elements needed by local and state education agencies for administrative and federal reporting purposes.
  • The group listed some reporting and management areas to consider:
    • Teachers
      • Teachers of records
      • Teacher qualifications
    • Credits/grades
    • Course codes
    • GPA/weighted grades
    • Attendance
      • Time
      • Hours of instruction
      • Interactivity
    • Environments: delivery model/technology
    • Vendor/sponsor
      • Approval
      • Course offerings
      • Capacity
    • Management/administration
      • Responsibility
      • Who?
      • Facilitation
      • Validation
      • Finance
    • Decision making points
      • When?
      • How many?
      • Guidance
    • Local/State
    • Governance
    • Infrastructural
    • Definition of Virtual Education Classrooms
      • Distributive Education?
      • Distance learning?
    • CCD Locator Data
    • Home School
    • Cost per pupil—cost/benefit back to the district/state
  • The group suggested that we will need a “pre-matrix” describing the relationships between the data reporting requirements for CCD, PPDMI, and NCLB AND their applicability (or not) to distance learning. This will let us see, more specifically, the areas/items needed for the matrix below.
Virtual Ed Environments


What is the Product?

  • The product will be a “kit” that is based around a large four page (eight actual pages, including cover and back) “booklet” that presents a matrix that illustrates the way that data elements can be modified to reflect virtual education/distance learning.
  • The unit of analysis will be the data element. Each cell will contain (as space allows) explanations, documentations, and questions to ask, with a more extensive discussion of these issues in supporting text (i.e., as an attachment to the booklet matrix).
  • The booklet will be accompanied by a CD that contains an electronic copy of the matrix and supporting text, as well as links to a Web product. Both the website and the CD will include links to other sites related to distance education.
  • This is a data product that has implications on policy making that, in turn, directly supports technology and instruction.
  • Our target audience will be SEA, LEA, and school staff, including superintendents, principals, data professionals, and technology coordinators. We will also include vendors (e.g., SIS developers), private school staff, and home schoolers as a secondary audience.
  • We hope that various professional associations (e.g., AAASA, CCSSO, NSBA, NAESP, NASSP, ASBO, NASBE, ISTE, CoSN) will see the value in this product and assist with product dissemination and publicity.

Next Steps

  • Within the next couple of days, the workgroup will receive meeting notes. They will add/change/delete by the middle of the week of May 24.
  • Andy will provide a draft of the Request to Form a Forum Task Force to Tom and Ghedam for them to edit.
  • The Request to Form a Task Force will be sent to the workgroup for approval. After approval, the various Forum committees will be asked to approve the formation within the next month.
  • It is the intent of the workgroup that the Task Force completes its work by fall, 2005.
  • Task 1: Tom Szuba will review federal reporting requirements to identify 6-10 data elements for the proof-of-concept exercise. This information will be shared with the group in preparation for the July meeting. We will then complete the matrix and supporting documentation for a few data elements at our July meeting as a proof-of-concept for our plan. This includes modifying data element definitions, identifying policy and data issues that should be considered, providing examples of "best data practices", preparing vignettes that illustrate issues, and linking elements to federal collection efforts.
  • Task 2: Extend this analysis (assuming the proof-of-concept is successful) to other data elements, including those linked to federal reporting and those needed for school, district, and state level management of virtual education.

Possible Next Meetings

  • Members of the soon-to-be task force will participate in the SETDA National Leadership Institute set for mid-November. Some discussion took place about desire for the Forum to discuss the infrastructure necessary to sustain the various distance learning environment. It is more likely that SETDA folks will take on this task.
  • The soon-to-be task force will meet in DC just prior to the scheduled Forum meeting in late July. The likely date of the meeting is Monday, July 26, although details will be sent in the near future.
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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.