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Summer Forum 2008 Meeting Notes

National Forum on Education Statistics
July 28-30, 2008
Bethesda, MD


Opening Session

Monday, July 28, 2008

Welcome and Opening Comments Zip File  (156 KB)
Forum Chair Susan VanGorden (Lakota Local School District) welcomed the Forum members to the 2008 summer meeting in Bethesda, MD. Susan reviewed the meeting agenda and welcomed 20 new members to the Forum.

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).

  • Commissioner Schneider began his remarks by praising the work of the Forum. Though small in membership and funding, the Commissioner said the Forum demonstrates the power of federalism and said that NCES truly appreciates the Forum's work and collaboration.
  • The Commissioner said that there has recently been a "great change" in the way NCES does business. Exemplified by College Navigator, an easy-to-use interface that allows users to access a vast college data set, NCES has changed the way it thinks about data use and now seeks to get the data into as many hands as possible. College Navigator has been extremely successful, receiving about 30,000 website hits per day.
  • Progress towards developing statewide longitudinal data systems (SLDS) was lauded and the Commissioner took a few moments to acknowledge the exceptional work of several state education agency staff in developing these systems. Commissioner Schneider forecasted that, with these systems, we are at the beginning of a revolution. He looked forward to the continued development of linkages between K-12 and postsecondary institutions across the country.
  • The Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems grant program run by IES recently released a new Request for Applications. Among other goals, it aims to aid the generation of true cohort graduation data, help with the establishment of P-20 linkages, and support experimentation with linking data and exploring different education questions.
  • Alignment with international standards was also discussed: In an environment where international comparisons are often made, we are faced with questions about aligning our tests and curricula with international standards.
  • Several other NCES projects were briefly reviewed:
    • The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is piloting state-level assessments in 2009 for the 12th grade.
    • The 2008 Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA), a component of NAEP, is currently under way.
    • The Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) survey was recently completed and follow-up surveys on teachers and principals are planned for 2009 to explore turnover and other issues.
    • The 2008 Teacher Compensation Survey is in progress and includes 18 states.
    • A high school longitudinal study is being planned and will build on the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS) and the Education Longitudinal Study (ELS). Ten representative state samples will be collected and used to identify conditions associated with student success.


FERPA Update
Leroy Rooker (Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education) reviewed many of the proposed changes to FERPA and offered some of the rationale behind them.

  • The Family Policy Compliance Office has released the proposed changes to FERPA and is currently working through the many public comments that have been submitted. The Office is also dealing with some relevant Supreme Court decisions.
  • Some of the proposed changes reviewed included:
    • Outsourcing: Districts can disseminate data to contractors and volunteers provided that: 1) the district has control over those entities by means of a legal contract; and 2) the data are owned by the district.
    • Data sharing and re-disclosure: SEAs can re-disclose information on transfer students on behalf of school districts.
    • K-16 databases: Data may be shared by K-12 and postsecondary institutions in a single database if such sharing is authorized by state law for evaluation purposes.
    • Personally identifiable information such as Social Security numbers, names, and other identifiers should be removed from data before releasing them to independent researchers.
    • Social Security numbers may not be used to identify a student without written consent.
  • Final regulations should be released before the next Forum meeting.
  • For more information, visit the FERPA website.


Joint Session

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

NCES Teacher Compensation Update Zip File  (556 KB)
Frank Johnson and Stephen Q. Cornman (NCES) updated the Forum on the Teacher Compensation Survey (TCS), giving an overview of the survey and presenting findings from the 2008 pilot collection.

  • The TCS was initiated in response to requests for better and more useful data about teachers. Existing salary data are not comparable and are only available at the state level.
  • Census will collect the data through a secure FTP site. Data will include: a unique teacher ID (state IDs maintained by Census, which then assigns a new random ID); NCES district and school IDs; school name; state school ID; school year (year of data); base pay of teacher; total pay teacher receives; retirement, health, all other, and total benefit data; employment indicators (e.g., the number of days in contract, FTE at school, status, salary indicator, new teacher indicator, etc); and demographic data (e.g., highest degree earned, years of experience, year of birth, race, gender, etc).
  • The 2007 data collection included 7 states, 509,225 records, and 497,927 unique teachers (many records were duplicates).
  • The current 2008 data collection includes 18 states and is expected to include between 1.2 and 1.4 million records (approximately 1/3 of the teachers in the United States. The collection closes on September 1 and the New Record Layout, Data Plan, Instruction Manual are available at
  • TCS pilot data products released to date include a First Look Report and a restricted-use data file. By the end of the year, a public use file and a Research and Development Report on the pilot should also be available.
  • TCS data were compared to the Common Core of Data School Universe file and great similarity was found. TCS salary data were also compared to National Education Association (NEA) files, showing varying differences among the states.
  • Summaries of demographic, experience, and salary data from the 2007 TCS pilot were presented along with the results of several regression analyses. Major findings included:
    • Free and reduced lunch eligible students have very little effect on teacher base salaries.
    • Teacher salaries in cities exceeded those in suburbs in two states and were very comparable in three states.
    • Teacher salaries in rural areas were slightly less in two states compared to suburbs and were substantially less in three other states.
    • Teachers with an MA earn approximately 4-6,000 more per year than teachers with a BA.
    • Teacher salaries for males and females are comparable.
    • Charter school teachers earn less than teachers in regular schools in 3 of 6 states.


NESAC Standing Committee

Monday, July 28, 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.

Attendance Task Force Update
Bill Smith (Sioux Falls School District, SD), provided the committee with an update on the Attendance Task Force. The task force is nearing completion of their product. The document they are producing will have four chapters that will correspond to the four goals outlined by the group. The first chapter will explain why accurate attendance data are important. The second chapter will present a taxonomy defining terms such as "attending," "present," "not attending," "absent," etc. Chapter three will address common challenges to collecting accurate attendance data. Finally, chapter four will include case studies highlighting attendance data use at the LEA and SEA level. The task force is looking for more examples of attendance data being used at the SEA level before completing this chapter. The draft of the document will be ready for review by the middle of August.

FERPA Update
In March the U.S. Department of Education proposed new regulations to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Leroy Rooker, Family Policy and Compliance Office, joined the committee to discuss these updates and answer additional questions not covered in the general session.

  • Under the new regulations, school level data can be disclosed if those data cannot be personally identifiable. This regulation is result driven. For example, if all the students in a given class fail a test, those results cannot be release since the data would show that Student A failed his/her test.
  • Contactors and system vendors can be provided with personally-identifiable, student-level information as long as SEA/LEA maintains ownership and is in direct control of the data. This provision needs to be specifically laid out before the data is shared.
  • Student ID numbers cannot be released to the public even if when from the students name.
  • FERPA regulations create a floor of privacy; other regulations (i.e. HIPPA, etc) may add additional checks on that data.


Guide to Collecting Race/Ethnicity Data
Helene Bettencourt (Massachusetts Department of Education) gave the committee an update on the Forum's Guide to Collecting Race/Ethnicity Data. The publication will be released in the early fall. Although the final race/ethnicity regulations have not yet been released, there is no reason to believe they will change. States and districts have been dealing with the coming changes very differently. Some states have given significant warning and guidance to LEAs regarding the changes they will have to make. In other states, LEAs have been left to figure out the changes on their own and are often at the mercy of very assertive vendors. Vendors should not dictate how SEAs or LEAs operate.

Building a Statewide Longitudinal Data System: Lessons Learned
Many lessons have already been learned by states and districts that have embarked on building longitudinal student data systems. During this session, three state representatives joined the committee to share what they have been doing and how.

Massachusetts Zip File (450 KB) had early support for their longitudinal data system and received funding through the legislature. They put out a competitive RFP in 2005 and selected a Cognos solution to start building their system. Building on infrastructure that was already in place, including a data center and sophisticated data security, Massachusetts has put together an impressive statewide data system. A major focus of the project has been to build buy-in and change the organizational culture. To that end, the state is funding the Cognos solution for each LEA to allow them to store data in the system that the state does not have access to, including student level grades and local assessments.

In 2008 Indiana was one of thirteen states to receive an IES Statewide Longitudinal Data System Grant. They are using the grant to complete a P-20 picture for each student in the state. Indiana currently has two RFPs out for a classroom/individual/student-based assessment tool and a teacher productivity tool. They have completed the data dictionary tool and have purchased an Oracles enterprise business intelligence tool to begin data modeling with enrollment and full-day kindergarten. A bridge between workforce/higher education and the k-12 system will be made in December. Indiana has had several lessons learned so far in the project. A few of those include:

  • Learn from others by collaborating with other grantee states;
  • Realize that the state procurement process always takes longer than anticipated;
  • Take time to understanding the hidden secrets of the organization; and
  • Expect a ripple effect of decision making that goes throughout the entire education enterprise.

Connecticut received an IES grant in the first round in 2007. Through many success and few set back Connecticut can sum up lessons learned in one word: Communication. If data are just going to sit in a warehouse, they can just as easily sit in a silo—the goal of the LDS project must be to communicate data to all the pertinent stakeholders. Communicating to the vendor is a necessity; the department and the vendor need to learn to speak the same language in order to collect and report necessary data. And finally internal communications, such as planning internally and involving all the right people early on, is critical.

The National Center for Education Statistics recently announced the third round of the IES Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems Grant Program. This new round of grants will focus on two major areas:

  1. Foundation—for states that are just starting an LDS endeavor (with awards up to $3 million).
  2. Expansion—for states that want to expand on current LDS work (awards up to $5 million).

States will be able to apply for up to $8-9 million for both foundational and expansion funding. This grant round will open the three year window for project completion, but it will widen to 2 to 4 years to allow for flexibility in dealing with state procurement issues and policy hurdles. Applications for this grant round are due September 25, 2008. All states are welcome to apply; not just those that have not yet received a grant. The grants run through a cooperative agreement similar to the Forum. Grant success is defined by what the state puts forth as its objectives. Any questions regarding the grants or the process should be directed to Tate Gould.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Connecting High Schools to Postsecondary
States and districts have begun to work on the extraordinary task of connecting their high school data with postsecondary institutions and the workforce. Successfully making this connection will allow high schools to better prepare their students for the next step in life and gives the postsecondary community valuable data about where their students and workers are coming from and how to best serve them in the future. Two states have emerged as leaders in making this connection and serve as great examples.

In Louisiana Zip File (465 KB) this type of data sharing came as a result of a significant tuition program instituted across the state. The program allows for any student finishing their senior year in the state of Louisiana to attend one of the state's colleges or universities tuition free of charge provided they meet a core set of standards and maintain a certain grade point average. With so much money tied to the program, buy-in came easier than in most cases and data quality has increased across the state. The bulk of the cost for the program, including the data sharing costs, lies with the Louisiana Department of Education and Louisiana Board of Regents. Local course catalogs are mapped to the statewide course code system in order to determine what classes meet the core standards. Universities and colleges only receive the high school data for a student who is applying for the program--an application triggers the data share. The key to the success of the program is the linking mechanism, the Social Security Number.

Florida's story Zip File (853 KB) begins several decades ago in the 1980s when a common course numbering system was designed for both the K-12 and postsecondary systems. The following decade saw the introduction of the electronic transcript. The Florida system is unique in that the Department of Education houses both the K-12 and the postsecondary systems—streamlining communications and allowing for a single data system. Florida points to the following reasons for the success of their program: attitude and planning, common identifiers, and use agreements. The state is able to share data with the prison system, employment, and colleges and universities. Moreover, the data flows back to the high schools so they know where each of their students is a year after graduating from school. Universities and colleges are obligated by law to participate in the data sharing.


Freedom of Information Act
Delores J. Barber is the Director of the Office of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) at the U.S. Department of Education. Ms. Barber gave the committee a FOIA update and answered questions regarding the law. FOIA was enacted in 1966 for the purpose of allowing access of government records and to allow requesters to be informed about exactly what the government is doing with its public resources. The law forms a covenant between government and the rest of the world and contributes to our system of checks and balances. The law has under gone several amendments to react to changes in technology. The law specifies nine exemptions for information release, including data that are:

  1. Properly classified as secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy;
  2. Related solely to internal personnel rules and practices;
  3. Specifically exempted by other statutes;
  4. Concerning trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person that is privileged or confidential;
  5. Privileged interagency or intra-agency memoranda or letters, except under certain circumstances;
  6. Personnel and medical files and similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;
  7. Investigatory records compiled for law enforcement purposes;
  8. Contained in or related to certain examination, operating, or condition reports concerning financial institutions; and
  9. Geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells (particularly oil wells).

Exemptions 3 and 6 directly relate to FERPA and allow states to redact information based on FERPA concerns. FOIA requests must be specific and reasonable and the requester must know exactly what they are looking for… for example, they cannot request every document the department has ever created. Requests are subject to a fee schedule based on the size of the request; fees are nominal and should not be a barrier to receiving the information. The federal government does not enforce FOIA at the state level. Rather, each state has in turn passed its own Freedom of Information Act. At the federal level, consequence for not complying with a FOIA request in the 20 to 30 day window can vary from disciplinary action, fines, or jail time.

Small Group Discussions: FOIA and You!
Following the FOIA discussion the committee broke out into LEA and SEA subgroups to further discuss the Freedom of Information Act and its impact on members' day to day work load.

At the LEA level, only about half the members had a formal FOIA request process and even then it is not always used. A tracking system and/or FOIA coordinator are both dependent on the size and capacity of the district. A fee schedule is also not always in place and the fee can vary from being based on a per-page copy charge to an hourly rate. The required response time also varied greatly. The topic of record retention and archiving may be discussed at future meetings.

In the SEA breakout it appeared that most states have a formal process for making FOIA requests; however, not all states have fees in place. The response time for FOIA requests varies by state. Staff data availability is sometimes dependent on a request; some states make this data available to public prior to a request.


NGA Graduation Rate Discussion
The National Governors' Association (NGA) organized a compact signed by all 50 state governors to collect and report graduation rate data in a standard format. This cohort rate may also be adopted by the U.S. Department of Education for state graduation reporting purposes. The NESAC committee took the time to hear from Rob Curtin (Massachusetts Department of Education) and Bridget Curran (NGA) about the implementation of the rate.

In order to successfully report the NGA graduation rate five years of data are needed. Massachusetts waited five years before publishing their first graduation data using this method. When that rate was first published, Massachusetts shared the student and aggregate level data with districts and, as a result, received 3,000 correction requests. The SEA created a list of the errors for which they would correct; this did not include students receiving a GED or certificate of attainment because Massachusetts reports students graduating with a high school diploma only and it includes students who graduate in the summer after their 12th grade year. The cohort is frozen at the end of fourth year of data. A five year rate is calculated to include the number of students that did not graduate in the 4th year and go on to graduate the following year. Transfers in 12th grade that need a 5th year to graduate are not included in the rate. The graduation rate in Massachusetts is reported at the state, district, and school levels. The states' least popular decision was about students that have dropped out and re-enrolled in a different school/district after the October 1st count—they are still counted as dropouts in original school/district. The guiding principle in Massachusetts was to develop the toughest rate possible and remain accurate. In 2006, the 5-year rate aimed to graduate 6% of students; the following year, the state succeeded in graduating an additional 3% of its students in the fifth year.

A Progress report on state implementation of the NGA graduation rate can be found online at The NGA currently reports that:

  • 16 states currently use NGA compact rate;
  • An additional five will be using it by end of the year (2008);
  • Eight more states will use the rate by the end of 2009 (and 9 more by the end of 2010, 6 more in 2011, and 1 more in 2012); and
  • Only five states have not yet identified a clear plan for implementation or are not planning to use the rate; however two of those states use a very similar rate.

The rate is a result of Virginia Governor Mark Warner's initiative on high schools. He wanted to address the lack of a high quality and consistent graduation rate data through a national task force. This work built on efforts already undertaken by the NCES Forum but did not include LEA input. The NGA recognizes the inability to achieve perfect comparability between states, but wants all states to use a more consistent and accurate rate by tracking individual students across years. The NGA stresses to media that the rates not comparable and it will not be publishing the rates of the 16 states' able to produce it.

NESAC Election
Linda Rocks (Bossier Parish Schools, LA) facilitated the nomination of the incoming 2009 NESAC chair and vice chair. Helene Bettencourt (Massachusetts Department of Education) was elected NESAC chair and David Weinberger (Yonkers Public Schools, NY) was elected vice chair of NESAC for 2009.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

EIMAC CRDC Workgroup Update
The Council of Chief State School Officers' Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC) has formed a workgroup to address issues surrounding the migration of Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) to the U.S. Department of Education's EDFacts collection. The group has held two meeting, the first of which was in April 2008. The most positive out coming of these meetings has been that the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is listening and is serious about improving the quality of the survey and reducing collection burdens for all parties. There will be no major changes to the survey in 2008; however, they have accepted nearly all of the groups' suggestions to improve instructions for filling out the survey and explanations for why the data are necessary. The data collected by the CRDC are used when complaints are filed with OCR; the data are not used as the sole indicator for reconciling these complaints, but are a necessary aspect of ensuring that the educational rights of all students are protected. The staff members in the EDFacts/EDEN office and at OCR are serious about there work. The group will meet again in September to review the updated instructions for filling out the survey.

Topics from the floor
As the meeting came to a close, the committee called for any topics from the floor that did not appear on the agenda or come up in conversations throughout the week.

Committee members expressed the desire to have NESAC support the continuation of the data model through NCES resources.

The Uniform Management Information and Reporting System (UMIRS), a data collection for the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, continues to cause confusion and concern for committee members. This topic was first discussed at the Winter 2008 Meeting in San Francisco. California is currently developing a file record lay out for their discipline data and is trying to decipher what data are needed and what is required by the federal government. Confusion lies in the fact that different counts are asked for by different federal collections. For example:

  • Table 7 in the CSPR asks for expulsions by incident level;
  • NCLB includes very vague language about discipline; and
  • EDEN has a file asking for count of students removed from school for at least a full day.

The U.S. Department of Education needs to clarify the business rules surrounding the collection of discipline data. In 1996 the Forum produced Safety in Numbers to clarify some of these same issues. NESAC should look at whether that document needs to be updated to focus on SEA level collections.

USED Migrant Student Record Exchange (MSIX) Initiative Zip File (2.05 MB)

The Migrant Student Record Exchange Initiative is part of a large initiative designed to link migrant systems together in order to complete a national picture of a migrant student's health and education history.

  • The goal of the program is to use data from EDFacts and NCES to standardize what goes into MSIX and reduce burden to the states.
  • Data received from EDFacts are updated quarterly and are seen as read only when it is in the MSIX system to ensure data quality. Each state has an MSIX technical lead who should be working with the EDFacts coordinator to correct any discrepancies in the data.
  • The system has 66 minimum data elements.
  • A letter needs to be signed by the chief state school officer before data can be submitted.
  • Train-the-trainer sessions will occur yearly to make sure the MSIX technical leads remain up to date.
  • MSIX grants will be awarded in mid September to assist states in funding the projects.
  • The MSIX system uses “transcript like” data through the e-Scholar student identifier product. The system does not use a social security number. If a state identifier is the SSN, the system will ask for an alternate (migrant) number.
  • The data links back to the “losing school” so that a migrant student is not coded as a dropout, but as a transfer. The state can give permission to districts to access the database in order to view and find students that have left their schools.
  • Communication needs to increase between migrant office and the state/district data offices.


Policies, Programs and Implementation (PPI)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Introductions and Agenda Review
PPI Chair Levette Williams (Georgia Department of Education) called the PPI committee to order, asked for members to talk about a data issue in their state, and reviewed the summer meeting agenda.

Crisis Data Management Task Force Update
Earl Watkins (Jackson Public Schools, MS) provided an update on behalf of the task force. The group has met four times since the 2007 Summer Forum. The group's product will focus on the data items and management surrounding the displacement of students due to a crisis. Earl led a discussion on the topic and fielded questions. The task force is plans to have a draft for review in late Fall/Early Winter.

Opening 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.

State Longitudinal Grant Update
Tate Gould (National Center for Education Statistics) reported on FY2009 grant opportunities. The Request for Applications will be posted the week after the Forum on the SLDS website. The due date of the applications is September 25 th. The FY09 grants will be in the areas of Foundation and Expansion.

Special Task Order Reports Zip File (240 KB)
Rod Packard (Wisconsin Department of Education) gave a report on their task order funding regarding the LDS Summary Report Integration. The project kicked off in May 2008 and the majority of the work will be conducted in the summer with an end date planned for September 2008. This task order project is just one small part of the work Wisconsin is doing with their LDS.

Jim Addy (Iowa Department of Education) gave a report on their task order funding regarding a data warehouse needs assessment. This needs assessment included a survey and focus groups among local school districts and area education agency staff across the state. This task order project is just one small part of the work Iowa is doing with the Data Warehouse.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Joint Session: E-Transcripts

Exploring Ongoing and Emerging Issues: PPI Discussion
Levette Williams led a discussion of three issues: data quality, implementing the new race/ethnicity standards, and PK-20 data sharing. PPI members broke into small groups to discuss these issues and then reported back to the whole group about their discussions. Members agreed that these are all important issues that fall within the PPI mission. Members then discussed potential Forum roles in the area of PK-20 systems.

PPI Elections
PPI members nominated James Haessly (Waukesha School District, WI) as the chair and Vince Meyer (Wyoming Department of Education) as the vice chair for 2009. The nomination was seconded and approved unanimously.

EDEN Transition Agreements Zip File (793 KB)
Lily Clark and Pat Sherrill (PIMS/USED) gave an update on EDEN's transition agreements. The EDEN Transition Agreements let USED know which data they can count on receiving from states through EDFacts for SY 2007-08. They also protect SEAs by identifying which data are not coming through EDFacts during the transition period and inform USED of state policy and technical issues that prevent more EDFacts submissions. Transition Agreements were due on March 28, 2008. SEAs received feedback from ED in June and had the option to respond to USED's comments by revising their Transition Agreements before July 11, 2008. About half of the SEAs have already been contacted to participate in phone calls with federal program officers to discuss challenges to providing the data through EDFacts. The remainder of SEAs will be contacted via email following the Forum meeting. Finalized Transition Agreements, with approval letters from ED, will be sent to the chief state school officers for review and sign-off. Once the chief state school officer signs the Transition Agreement and returns it to the Department, the document becomes final.

EIMAC Update Zip File (36 KB)
Maureen Matthews (CCSSO) gave an update on CCSSO and EIMAC activities. Maureen detailed the main objectives from the CCSSO Strategic Plan: standards, assessment and accountability, educator development, data systems, and systems of support for student learning. One of the major data system goals is the success of the State Education Data Center. The Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC) consists of four subcommittees: Assessment, General Statistics, Longitudinal Data Systems and Special Education. In addition, outside partners fund three 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).


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Steering Committee Business
Levette Williams updated PPI members on some of the work handles by the steering committee including actions taken by other Forum Committees.

Future PPI Planning
Levette Williams led a discussion on potential agenda items for the Winter 2009 Forum Meeting. Issues discussed included: PK-20 connections (lessons learned panel, DQC, hearing from higher ed, etc.), FERPA regulations, LDS grantees, best practices for LDS, Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA), how to get data quality down to the school level staff, and other surveys (beyond CRDC) that SEAs can do for LEAs.

Update on the Civil Rights Data Collection
Jim Parsons (Richardson Independent School District, TX) gave an update on the EIMAC Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) Workgroup. The workgroup consists of LEA and SEA members and have met two times since the Winter Forum. The 2008-09 collection will be a sample survey and will have no major changes. The 2010-11 collection will include a merger with EDEN and a smaller LEA collection. Jim said the workgroup has made many suggestions, specifically regarding improved documentation, that the Office of Civil Rights has responded to positively.


Technology (TECH) Standing Committee

Monday, July 28, 2008

Welcome and Introductions
Chair Kathy Gosa (Kansas State Department of Education) called the meeting to order.

Opening Session Review and Discussion (FERPA)
Following his presentation at the Opening Session, LeRoy Rooker (U.S. Department of Education) spoke with TECH in greater detail about the status of the newly proposed FERPA regulations. Mr. Rooker fielded questions from TECH members on a number of issues. Data transfer authorization by LEAs or by SEAs on their behalf was discussed, although it seems that the proposed regulations are still somewhat unclear about the specific requirements. Linking data between K-12 and postsecondary education was also discussed. Mr. Rooker told the group that it was the responsibility of individual states to establish laws to allow such linkages and to permit institutions to use these data for evaluation. The group also discussed memorandums of understanding (MOUs). Leroy discouraged the use of MOUs because these documents are simply agreements between equals and fail to grant control of the data to any party involved.

Introductions and Agenda Review
Members and attendees introduced themselves and reviewed the TECH agenda and Forum joint sessions. Chair Kathy Gosa also reviewed the work TECH did at the Winter 2008 Forum Meeting in San Francisco.

Task Force and Working Group Updates
Race/Ethnicity Task Force: Blair Loudat (North Clackamas Schools, OR) reviewed the content of the task force's guide and reported that the document is almost ready for full Forum review. The product should be released by the end of August 2008.

Metadata Task Force: Tom Ogle (Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) reported that the group is currently making final edits to the guide. TECH review should take place in September and the guide will be released prior to the Winter 2009 Forum.

Longitudinal Data Systems Task Force: Bruce Dacey (Delaware Department of Education) reported that the group is currently developing a draft of its product. The task force plans to release its product in sections for public review, beginning with the Introduction and first two chapters before the Winter 2009 Forum. Final publication is projected by the Winter 2010 meeting.

Data Ethics Task Force: Tom Purwin (Jersey City Schools, NJ) reviewed the content and intended audience of the group's guide. The task force plans to release the final product by the Winter 2009 Forum.

PK-12 Data Model Task Force: Jeff Stowe (Arizona Department of Education) presented an overview of the group's product and its use, as well as plans for a community site to facilitate feedback. The current plan is to finalize the PowerPoint presentation by August 15, release the Data Model on August 22, and launch the website and release a brochure on September 17. Jeff proposed that expansion of the model to P-16 or P-20 could be the focus for a future working group.


Task Order Update
Chair Kathy Gosa updated TECH members on an FY 2007 State Cooperative System Task Order Award that Kansas is completing work on: Improving the Quality of Data Submitted by Kansas LEAs. The Kansas Individual Data on Students Data Quality Certification program focuses on data coordinators and data entry staff. Its goals are to: 1) help users develop basic skills; 2) share best practices at a grass roots level; and 3) recognize the hard work done by staff by awarding them with certification. Kansas continually works to expand and improve this program.

TECH Professional Development: Recordation
LeRoy Rooker returned to TECH to address the issue of recordation. The recordation requirement in FERPA currently applies only to LEAs and defines record keeping requirements concerning requests and disclosures. Several changes have been proposed for the new regulations. For example, SEAs may be required to perform recordation when they act on behalf of LEAs. TECH members posed questions to Mr. Rooker and identified ambiguities that may still exist under the proposed regulations. Questions revolved around the physical location where electronic records of transfers must reside as well as the specific circumstances under which recordation is required. Mr. Rooker reported that the Family Policy Compliance Office is working to clarify the regulations and to make compliance as efficient as possible.

TECH Discussion: Recordation
TECH members discussed Leroy Rooker's presentation on recordation. The group decided to talk with members of PPI regarding the need to update the Forum Guide to the Privacy of Student Information: A Resource for Schools in order to include the subject and also to reflect any changes made to FERPA under the forthcoming new regulations.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Joint Session: E-transcripts (with PPI)
Jeff Tanner and Doug Falk (National Student Clearinghouse) presented their organization's e-transcript transfer services to TECH and PPI members. The National Student Clearinghouse, a non-profit organization established in 1993, maintains a large database of over 3,200 colleges and universities, over 2,000 high schools, and over 80 million current and former students, covering 92% of the nations currently enrolled students. It offers a number of services, including enrollment and degree verification, and has recently expanded to enable e-transcript exchange through its Electronic Transfer Exchange (ETX). ETX, which was built upon the organization's existing network, acts as a collection and delivery hub for files and allows education institutions to securely exchange e-transcripts. To use the service, schools register with the organization and are given a secure FTP mailbox. ETX allows members to send and receive files, validates participant identities and supported file formats, notifies recipients of the arrival of new files, and logs all transmission activity. Members receive e-transcripts at no cost. The ability to send e-transcripts is available for an annual fee of $500, which can be waived through participation in the organization's Student Tracker/Diploma Verify program.

Anne Brinson (Indiana Department of Education) then presented on the development and current status of the Indiana E-Transcript PDF File (293 KB) project. Rolled out in 2005 as a pilot, this program now facilitates the transfer of e-transcripts between K-12 and post secondary information systems, and offers free nationwide delivery. Students are also able to obtain their transcripts through guidance counselors. Use of the system has grown dramatically in three years. The system currently only transfers PDFs, but work is in progress to shift to XML, which is key to implementing a student ID system and permitting data analysis. In the future, the system will allow for transfer from high school to high school and from one higher education institution to another. It will also include GEDs, and conform to a standard course code system.

E-transcripts Discussion
Members of TECH and PPI then considered e-transcript issues. Members discussed various state experiences and current practices concerning e-transcript use, products, file formats, and standards. They also raised questions about issues such as the role of FERPA, the inclusion of teacher licensure on e-transcripts, GPA calculations, data matching, and ID systems.


TECH Professional Development: Accessibility Standards
Lee Rabbit (North Kingstown School Department, RI), presented on web accessibility and Section 508, an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that requires Federal departments and agencies, as well as government funded organizations (including SEAs and LEAs) and projects to “make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities.” Relevant disabilities include visual and hearing impairment, physical disablement, and photosensitive epilepsy. The presenter offered a number of techniques that her district and the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education used to increase the number of users who could utilize and benefit from its website, simplify design and management, and reduce bandwidth for end users. Ms. Rabbit also referenced a number of online services and tools that were helpful in her organization's effort to improve its web accessibility.

Ray Woten (Virginia Department of Education) also presented on Section 508 and his organization's efforts to not only comply with the law, but also to get a return on its investment. Mr. Woten reviewed a number of methods and resources his Department used to increase the usability and accessibility of the organization's website for disabled users. For instance, he reviewed website features and technologies that site designers should avoid, including frames, tables and links without titles, mouse-only navigation, and blinking or scrolling text or graphics. He also suggested that organization should establish a controlled tab sequence, use breadcrumbs, and provide an alternative to PDF output. Mr. Woten recommended an exercise to let one experience a website as blind users would: turn on a text reader program, turn off your monitor, unplug the mouse, and then try to navigate and make sense of the website.


Accessibility Standards Discussion
Following these two eye-opening presentations, TECH members discussed accessibility issues. It was clarified that vendors must also comply with Section 508 standards and members suggested that states explicitly include this requirement in RFPs. Members and presenters also discussed the question of how far a state or organization should go to ensure accessibility to all users. That is, do you simply program to the standards, or should an organization go so far as to make its site work on all browsers and with all available technologies?

TECH Election
Tom Purwin, was elected TECH Chair, and Corey Chatis (Tennessee Department of Education) was elected TECH Vice-Chair for 2009.

TECH Professional Development: Data Environment Security
Security PPT 1 (739 KB)
Security PPT 2 (667 KB)

Donald Houde, who heads the Information Security Office at the Arizona Department of Education (ADE), spoke to TECH about his state's efforts to improve security and manage data access. Mr. Houde addressed the ongoing need to identify vulnerabilities and adapt to ever-changing security threats. He also discussed the many challenges to enhancing security. Organizationally, ADE had to establish an Information Security Office, create a security team, and establish processes for managing and monitoring data usage. Culturally, ADE faced challenges such as communicating the differences between private and public sector security, providing security orientation and training sessions, and establishing a means for communicating security issues to staff. Mr. Houde also presented some of the technical solutions ADE has employed. Thanks to the organization's efforts to boost security, ADE is now better able to protect individual privacy and has the ability to identify and monitor attacks on the system (and quickly protect against them). Previously, such attacks would have gone unnoticed or caused unexplained disturbances to the system. Finally, Mr. Houde offered a brief review of a short presentation that the ADE Information Security Office gives to staff to increase awareness and to alleviate any concerns staff may have about security in the organization. The presentation is intended to let staff know what the Office is, why it was established, what it does, and why it does what it does.

Security Discussion

Chair Kathy Gosa led a follow-up discussion about security. The group raised questions about the organizational structure of the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) Information Security Office and other challenges experienced by the organization. Donald Houde (ADE) spoke about the difficulties in communicating with children about their accounts, the return on their investment in security appliances in terms of staff hours saved, and other security tips such as replacing flash drives with iron keys.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

USED Migrant Student Records Exchange (MSIX) Initiative Zip File (2.05 MB)
Jennifer Dozier (U.S. Department of Education) is the project manager of the U.S. Department of Education's Migrant Student Records Exchange Initiative. She and her colleague Alejandra Velez-Paschke briefly discussed the project's background, recounting the need to track a large number of highly mobile students who transfer within and across states. MSIX seeks to: 1) establish an electronic exchange for the transfer of such students' education and health data across states; 2) consolidate migrant student records for the purposes of enrollment, placement and credit accrual; and 3) ultimately produce national data on the migrant population. The MSIX application overview was presented, depicting the flow of migrant data from state systems to the MSIX portal, and finally to end users. Ms. Dozier and Ms. Velez-Paschke also discussed the relationship between MSIX and EDFacts. EDFacts provides MSIX with its standardized school and LEA reference data, thus reducing burden on states to report these data multiple times. EDFacts also updates MSIX quarterly so it remains current. Finally, Ms. Dozier updated the group on MSIX progress. MSIX accomplishments over the past year have included the finalization and clearance of 66 Minimum Data Elements as a required OMB Information Collection, the creation of interconnection and Interconnection Security Agreements between 27 states, ED certification and accreditation, completion of four MSIX train-the-trainer user groups, and the launch of MSIX 2.0. In the future, MSIX will try to include more states, distribute grants, encourage use, and share best practices among states.

After the presentation, the group took a few moments for discussion. Questions were raised about implementation of the MSIX student transcript elements. Members also discussed what they see as redundancy existing across states and the need to integrate this migrant information and share methods of implementation.

Schools 2.0
Hugh Walkup (U.S. Department of Education) and Stephen Hockett (Fairfax County Schools, VA) discussed progress made on the Schools 2.0 tool since last year. A number of new features have been added, including a host of resources about technology in schools, a “Reflection Tool” to help users gauge their own knowledge about technology use in education, a “Bandwidth Planner” to help administrators learn about the subject and plan their school or district's bandwidth needs, and the “Transformation Toolkit,” which contains a number of professional development tools for various types of users. The presenters also demonstrated the use of the “Learning Ecosystem” tool. This tool allows users to explore and drill down through a visual depiction of a school and community environment to find various resources intended to help them learn about education technologies, how to get them, how to implement them effectively, and how to use them to improve their schools and districts.


Longitudinal Data Systems Grant Project Update
Tate Gould (National Center for Education Statistics) gave an overview of the recently released Request for Applications (RFA) for the third round of the IES Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) grant program. This round of grants is intended to support the foundation and/or expansion of state systems. For foundation activities, up to $6 million is available, while up to $3 million is available for expansion activities. Proposed grants projects can range from 2-5 years. Grants are available to SEAs only and applications are due by September 25, 2008.

Steering Committee Business and Report
Chair Kathy Gosa led a review of Steering Committee activities. It was reported that Jeff Stowe (Arizona Department of Education) reviewed MSIX activities with the Steering Committee. Kathy notified the Steering Committee that three of TECH's five task forces will seek Forum review by the fall. She also reviewed the Closing Session report from TECH in which she would mention a number of presentations from the past few days and review the committee's many productive discussions.

Meeting Review/Winter 2009 Planning
Chair Kathy Gosa reviewed the committee's accomplishments during this Forum meeting. Members then shifted their focus to planning the Winter 2009 Forum. Members offered numerous ideas for future professional development topics, including further exploration of security technologies, culture, and implementation; the generation of unique identifiers; business policies and procedures to improve data quality; data analysis and data mining tools, and the many graphical interfaces available for these tools. SIFA volunteered to present on this latter topic because of its current plans to review a number of tools currently being used around the country. The possibility of forming a working group on Section 508 Accessibility Standards was raised and may be proposed at a future meeting. Members also noted that it might make sense to follow up on the idea to form a working group to expand the Education Data Model to P-16 or P-20. Finally, members agreed to form a subcommittee to facilitate an organized review of all current TECH products to ensure that they are up-to-date.

Kathy thanked the TECH Committee and warmly expressed her appreciation for being allowed to preside over the committee for the past year. Vice-Chair Tom Purwin thanked Kathy for her outstanding leadership and looked forward to the products and issues the TECH committee will work on during the year to come.


Closing Session

Overview and Agenda Zip File (929 KB)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Data Across the P-20 Education System Zip File (42 KB)
Aimee Rogstad-Guidera (Data Quality Campaign) presented to the Forum on the value of linking education data between P-12 and postsecondary, commonly referred to as P-20.

  • The Data Quality Campaign's (DQC) goal is to increase policymaker awareness and use of data to improve student achievement. P-20, the DQC says, is a political will issue, not a technical one.
  • State progress towards developing the DQC's 10 essential elements of a longitudinal data system was reviewed. Three states (Arkansas, Delaware, and Utah) had all 10 in place as of last year's DQC survey.
  • According to that same survey, 22 states report having the capacity to link data between K-12 and postsecondary systems (though many of these states do not actually link these data). This number is up from 12 in 2005 and an additional 26 states have plans to create this link. However, a survey of postsecondary institutions done by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) found a much smaller number of states linking P-20, suggesting a lack of coordination between SEAs and postsecondary institutions on this issue. Results of the Lumina Project, a survey of state Higher Education student unit record database capabilities were presented showing the number of states linking postsecondary data with K-12 and workforce data.
  • Barriers to P-20 alignment include lack of a common student identifier, lack of resources, state laws prohibiting these linkages, lack of coordination between K-12 and Higher Ed, and system incompatibility. Technical and political solutions to some of these challenges were offered.
  • DQC's interpretation of FERPA suggests that the law does not prohibit P-20 data sharing and analysis, though four states have their own laws prohibiting this linkage.
  • The experiences and achievements of four states in linking P-20 data were reviewed, including Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Minnesota.
  • Finally, a number of P-20 action steps were presented:
    • Develop and use a mechanism for sharing data between P-12 and postsecondary systems;
    • Make investing in aligned data systems, especially P-20 councils, a priority on the agenda of state leaders;
    • Update state privacy laws to ensure appropriate data sharing;
    • Create a single postsecondary repository of student-level data for all public postsecondary institutions;
    • Ensure stakeholder involvement in development of alignment process;
    • Address sustainability of funding for P-20 data systems and research;
    • Explicitly define policy questions on which information is needed; and
    • Explore linking apprenticeship, job training, and workforce information to school performance for evaluation.
  • For more information on P-20 and the DQC, visit

The following slate of officers was elected to lead the Forum in 2008-2009:

Forum Chair: Bruce Dacey, Delaware Department of Education
Forum Vice Chair: Linda Rocks, Bossier Parish Schools (LA)
Past Chair: Susan VanGorden, Lakota Local School District (OH)
NESAC Chair: Helene Bettencourt, Massachusetts Dept. of Education
NESAC Vice Chair:     David Weinberger, Yonkers Public Schools (NY)
PPI Chair: James Haessly, School District of Waukesha (WI)
PPI Vice Chair: Vince Meyer, Wyoming Department of Education
TECH Chair: Tom Purwin, Jersey City Public School (NJ)
TECH Vice Chair: Corey Chatis, Tennessee Department of Education

Susan VanGorden thanked the Forum for the opportunity to serve as Chair in 2007-2008, and Bruce Dacey, the Chair for 2008-2009, pledged to keep up the good work of the Forum during his tenure.


Steering Committee

Monday, July 28, 2008

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

Agenda Review
Steering Committee members reviewed the agenda for the Summer Meeting and agreed that everything seemed to be in place for a successful meeting.

Task Force Meetings
Steering Committee members who had participated in task force meetings on Sunday and Monday morning reported that the groups were focused and productive. The Forum expects that four or five of its existing task forces will have completed their work by the Winter 2009 Meeting.

New Member Orientation Session
We are getting better at making our new members feel welcome at the Forum. In the past, people got comfortable with their role in the Forum, but often only after attending meetings for several years. We are now seeing new members get acclimated and involved during or shortly after their first meeting. We will continue to try to improve on this front, but our current orientation and mentoring efforts seem to be successful. Additionally, we will:

  • Continue to try to have mentors contact and meet up with mentees before the Orientation Session, although this can be difficult;
  • Ask mentors to attend the Orientation Session with their mentees; and
  • Convene round tables which make the Forum more personal.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Opening Session
The Steering Committee was very pleased with the Opening Session presentation by NCES Commissioner Mark Schneider. He is a polished speaker who truly entertains his audience. Given the Forum's focus, in the future, we may consider asking for more information on K-12 initiatives at NCES that influence LEAs and SEAs.

LeRoy Rooker (U.S. Department of Education's Family Compliance Office) shared new information about proposed changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Steering Committee members thought that a Powerpoint might have helped this presentation, although good information was shared all the same.

Standing Committees
Standing committee chairs updated the Steering Committee on what they had accomplished during the first two days of the meeting.

Joint Session
Committee members were very pleased with the joint session presentation from Frank Johnson and Stephen Cornman (NCES) about the NCES Teacher Compensation Survey. It was a well-organized presentation that was full of good information. Members were impressed with the aggressive timeline from conception through pilot results in published form.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New 2008-09 Officers

Forum Chair: Bruce Dacey, Delaware Department of Education
Forum Vice Chair: Linda Rocks, Bossier Parish Schools (LA)
Past Chair: Susan VanGorden, Lakota Local School District (OH)
NESAC Chair: Helene Bettencourt, Massachusetts Dept. of Education
NESAC Vice Chair:     David Weinberger, Yonkers Public Schools (NY)
PPI Chair: James Haessly, School District of Waukesha (WI)
PPI Vice Chair: Vince Meyer, Wyoming Department of Education
TECH Chair: Tom Purwin, Jersey City Public School (NJ)
TECH Vice Chair: Corey Chatis, Tennessee Department of Education

Thoughts about the Closing Session
Aimee Guidera (Data Quality Campaign) gave a very informative presentation. She is a good speaker who had no problems engaging our members. We would like to consider inviting her to speak again to the Forum, including time with each standing committee for follow up questions.

Thoughts on the Summer 2008 Meeting
We should keep the standing committee agendas packed with speakers who can discuss issues requested by committee members. This meeting was great, in large part because of the amount of substantive information that was shared. It is important, however, to build in time for member to ask questions to the speakers and each other. TECH scheduled 20 minutes of member discussion for each topic addressed by a speaker. NESAC and PPI may try this in the future as well.

Perhaps we don't need as many task force roundtables at the next meeting. Instead, we could ask our general session guest speakers to host roundtables as a means for getting more personal question and answer time (rather than automatically assuming that each speaker needs 20 minutes Q & A in each standing committee). We also talked about extending the lunch break between the round tables to 1.5 hours to insure plenty of time for folks to eat and get back to the round table session on time.

The color-coded table illustrating the Forum agenda was very much appreciated.

We should post to the Forum website all PPTs used by speakers at general sessions and in standing committees during the meeting.

The evening activities hosted by NCES folks were very much appreciated.

We discussed very briefly about how to handle non-members attending sessions. This is an issue that continues to surface. The Steering Committee will need to monitor it and be prepared to deal with it in the future.


Winter 2009 Planning
The Winter 2009 Forum meeting will be held in Seattle, Washington (downtown) on February 16-18, 2009 and followed by the Annual MIS Conference. Note that this is one week earlier than we usually meet (i.e., it is not the last full week of February).

The Steering Committee would like to consider having an opening session panel on PK-20 Data Sharing. Speakers might address topics such as memoranda of understanding (MOUs), negotiating FERPA, other organizational policies, etc. This should not be a theoretical discussion—rather, it would deal with “nuts and bolts” issues related to really sharing data across levels. We should leave substantial time for a question and answer type format as well. The Steering Committee would like to invite Aimee Guidera (Data Quality Campaign), as well as representatives from the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS).

Do we need to reconsider the Forum mission to at least acknowledge the need for PK-20 data exchange?

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 further debrief the Summer 2008 Forum and begin planning the Winter 2009 Forum during its next conference call, tentatively scheduled for Friday, September 19, at 1:00 p.m. est.

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

 Meeting Notes


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.