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New Members' Page

Introduction Letter
Forum Organizational Hierarchy

As a new Forum member, what do I need to know?

checkmark icon  If you are a local education agency (LEA) representative
checkmark icon  If you are a state education agency (SEA) representative
checkmark icon  If you are a national association representative

If I am a state education agency (SEA) representative

What are my responsibilities?

The State Education Agency (SEA) representative is formally appointed by the Chief State School Officer and is expected to speak on his or her behalf on issues of education data policy. The SEA representative is expected to participate in all Forum meetings as a full member, and is authorized to vote on issues that come before the Forum and hold office in the Forum. Responsibilities include the following:

  • Act as representative in the coordination of Federal data collections at the state level and in other matters concerning the Cooperative System to promote the efficiency, quality, and usefulness of data collections
  • Attend two annual meetings of the National Forum on Education Statistics
  • Vote on any issues that may come before the full Forum for approval
  • Participate in the annual NCES Data Conference and in the Management Information Systems (MIS) Conference
  • Oversee all Cooperative System Contracts awarded to states, with specific responsibilities as outlined below (see Who pays for my travel?)
  • Serve as a member of a standing committee
  • Volunteer to work with one or more task forces
  • Review Forum/NCES publications as a preliminary step to Forum approval

Publicize Forum work (e.g., its free publications) within the members home state and at relevant professional meetings

How do I plan my travel?

Prior to attending your first Forum meeting, expect to receive very detailed instructions about getting to, and participating in, the meeting from both the NCES Forum liaison, Ghedam Bairu, and the logistics contractor, Coffey Consulting (represented by Jennifer Bebermeyer). These materials will include information about meeting dates, meeting agendas, hotel instructions, and travel instructions.

Who pays for my travel?

Each state education agency receives a Cooperative System Basic Participation Award that funds travel for the state and local education agency representatives (and other staff) to the Forum, MIS, and Summer Data Conference meetings. The state education agency is solely responsible for work relating to the management of this contract and, as such, the SEA Forum representative is responsible for overseeing the submission of the two main deliverables: (1) a list of survey coordinators and an attendance plan for the Forum, MIS, and Summer Data Conference meetings; and (2) a list of people who actually participated in Forum, MIS, and Data conference meetings, including sponsored state and local education agency staff.

For more information about the management of Cooperative System Contracts, contact Renee Rowland (202-502-7336) at NCES.

When and where does the Forum meet?

The Forum convenes general session meetings twice each year. The Summer Forum Meeting is held in Washington DC during the last full week of July in conjunction with the annual NCES Summer Data Conference. The Winter Forum Meeting is held during the last full week of February in conjunction with the annual NCES MIS Conference. The location of this meeting varies each year depending on which state education agency agrees to co-host the meeting with NCES. Recent sites have included New Orleans, Louisiana, Portsmouth, Virginia, and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Task forces meet up to two additional times each year, with the time and location scheduled by task force members.

For more information about scheduled Forum meeting, view the Upcoming Events.

What should I expect at my first meeting?

Prior to attending your first Forum meeting, you will be contacted personally by a current Forum member who will serve as your mentor. Your mentor is an experienced Forum member who can answer your questions, tell you more about the organization, make arrangements to meet with you in person at the meeting, and introduce you to other Forum members. Your mentor will also accompany you to the official Forum Orientation meeting that is held on the first day of all Forum meetings. The Forum Orientation meeting generally includes a formal introduction to the organization before transitioning into a less formal social event designed to introduce you to our members on a more personal level. In addition to the Orientation Session, Forum meetings include:

  • Opening and closing general sessions, usually with speakers from the federal government or national associations who can update our members on current and changing issues related to education data
  • Standing committee meetings, in which the ongoing business of the Forum is conducted, major Forum initiatives are planned, and continuity in Forum activities is fostered
  • Task force meetings, which are held prior to the opening of the full Forum meeting
  • Professional development sessions, including seminars on important and current education data and technology issues

How do I get involved in Forum activities?

Forum meetings are busy. Standing committees plan initiatives, task forces develop resources, and Forum members participate in professional development activities—to mention just a few of the many activities taking place. The best way to get immersed in Forum work is to attend both annual meetings (winter and summer). By attending Forum meetings, you will learn who is doing what (and how and when) in the Forum. The next stage of involvement arises when a new member joins a task force, which is where free Forum resources get developed. Because task forces usually meet twice a year for 1-2 days in addition to at Forum meetings, they are excellent opportunities for getting to know your Forum colleagues on a more personal basis. New members are encouraged to get involved in task force work as soon as possible.

Who can I contact with additional questions?

All questions about the Forum, its activities, and members, should be directed to Ghedam Bairu (202-502-7304).


Other Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the Forum's members?

Forum members include:

  • One representative from each state education agency (SEA) and one representative from a local education agency (LEA) within each state
  • Representatives from various Offices of the U.S. Department of Education (e.g., the Office of Vocational and Adult Education)
  • Representatives from other Federal Agencies (e.g., the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activities)
  • Representatives from National Associations (e.g., the Council of Chief State School Officers)

For more details visit the Forum membership list.

How is the Forum organized and how does it accomplish its work?

Forum work is conducted in general session meetings, as well as in meetings of the Steering Committee and the three permanent standing committees (the National Education Statistics Agenda Committee, the Policies, Programs, and Implementation Committee, and the Technology Committee).

To address specific issues or develop products that require more intense focus, standing committees may recommend to the Steering Committee the establishment of a task force. Task forces meet up to four times per year-twice immediately prior to the annual Forum meetings (i.e., prior to the Winter and Summer Meetings) and twice at other times and/or sites (usually once in the fall and once in the spring). Task forces consist of Forum members, members of partnering organizations who bring expertise on the topic of interest, an NCES liaison, and a consultant who is contracted to support task force work. Task force work generally results in a deliverable product that can be published as a free Forum paper document or web resource. Topics that are currently, or have recently been, addressed by Forum task forces include:

For more information see the Forum Organizational Structure.

How do Forum members communicate?

Forum members communicate in person at the annual winter meeting, the annual summer meeting, and task force meetings. The Steering Committee, standing committees, and task forces also communicate via listservs) restricted to member use only, as well as through teleconferences scheduled on an as-needed basis throughout the year. Information is shared with Forum members and the general public via the Forum website. The organization's newsletter, The Forum Voice, is published in an electronic format each spring and fall. E-mail addresses and telephone numbers for current Forum members can be accessed via the membership rosters.

Additionally, and independent of the medium, Forum members also communicate via a wide array of acronyms that might appear somewhat cryptic to new members, but will soon become a part of any Forum member's working vocabulary over time. Until such time, however, visit a page containing a list of commonly used Forum Acronyms.


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.