Skip Navigation

The Forum Voice: Fall 2008 (Volume 11, No. 2)


Editorial Board
Letter from the Chair
Welcome New Members
New Forum Associate Members
New Resources
Summer 2008 Meeting Recap
P-20 Alignment
Forum Task Force Updates
Upcoming Events
2008–09 Forum Officers
Newsletter Information
Links to Past Issues of the Forum Voice

Editorial Board

Linda Rocks, Bossier Parish Schools (LA)
David Weinberger, Yonkers Public Schools (NY)
Vince Meyer, Wyoming Department of Education
Corey Chatis, Tennessee Department of Education
Ghedam Bairu, NCES

Letter from Chair

Welcome Forum members to a new and exciting year. I am so thrilled about being the chair this year. This opportunity you have given me is a great honor and I will not disappoint you. I am excited to work with our new Steering Committee members as well as Ghedam, Lee, and all the other staff members and consultants who make the Forum the great organization it is.

I want to welcome our new members and encourage them to talk to other members and get involved. We need you! We have many task forces completing their work this year with several new publications about to hit the streets. But you know what that means? That’s right, more work. I anticipate a great meeting in Seattle and lots of ideas on new working groups and task forces.

There is so much going on in the world today with the election and subprime mortgage problems slowing our economy and forcing our government leaders to create financial solutions. But, unfazed by events around us—well, most of us anyway—the Forum continues to create products and ideas that move our nation’s education data systems forward. The coming months are going to be exciting with the election of a new president and fresh initiatives that will affect us all. I believe the Winter Forum meeting will be stimulating and rewarding for all of us.

In closing, I would like to ask all of you to think of what new ideas you can bring to share at the Winter Forum meeting. I have never been to Seattle, but I can’t think of a better place to be in February. See you then!

Bruce Dacey, Delaware Department of Education


Welcome New Members

At this year’s Summer Meeting, the Forum welcomed eleven new members. We look forward to working with them and to seeing them again at the Winter 2009 Forum Meeting in Seattle. The newcomers include:

    Frances Danieli, Guam Public School System
    David Feliciano, Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools (GA)
    Ronald Hoerner, Pennsylvania Department of Education
    Michael Hopkins, Rochester School Department (NH)
    Laurel Krsek, Napa Valley United School District (CA)
    Louticia Sahagon, Guam Public School System
    Kendra Shakir, Connecticut State Department of Education
    Brian Snow, Maine Department of Education
    Laurel Vorachek, Anchorage School District (AK)
    Cathy Wagner, Minnesota Department of Education
    Susan Williams, Virginia Department of Education


New Forum Associate Members

  Data Quality Campaign logoData Quality Campaign—The Forum is delighted to welcome as a new associate member, the Data Quality Campaign (DQC). The DQC is a national, collaborative effort to encourage state policymakers to improve the collection, availability, and use of high-quality education data. Since its establishment in 2005, the campaign has been at the forefront of a national movement to promote the implementation of longitudinal data systems (LDSs). DQC seeks to increase understanding among policymakers and educators on how to use longitudinal student-level data to improve student outcomes. To this end, it provides useful tools and resources to help states create successful LDSs, improve data quality, and increase access to and the use of these valuable data. At the same time, the DQC seeks to facilitate greater coordination and agreement between organizations in order to reduce duplication of efforts. Having seen extraordinary progress towards the implementation of LDSs across the country in the past few years, the campaign has recently expanded its focus to the promotion of P-20 alignment, which will allow broader exploration of student’s experiences through the entire education pipeline. Nancy Smith will represent the DQC in the Forum.
  State Higher Education Executive Officers logoState Higher Education Executive Officers—With growing focus on the alignment of P-12 and postsecondary data systems, the Forum is pleased to welcome the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) as a new associate member. SHEEO is a nonprofit, nationwide association of the chief executive officers from statewide coordinating boards and governing boards of postsecondary education. The association's mission is to help its members and the states develop and sustain excellent systems of higher education. To achieve this goal, SHEEO provides a united voice and leadership on public policy issues for higher education through activities such as organizing professional development meetings; maintaining regular systems of communication and providing ready access to relevant studies and publications; serving as a liaison between the states and the federal government; studying higher education policy issues and publishing reports to inform the field; and implementing projects to enhance higher education in the states. The Forum looks forward to working with SHEEO to help bridge the divides between P-12 and postsecondary data systems and facilitate more widespread sharing and use of data throughout the entire education system. Hans L’Orange will represent SHEEO in the Forum.


New Resources

checkmark icon Managing an Identity Crisis pictureManaging an Identity Crisis: Forum Guide to Implementing New Federal Race and Ethnicity Categories—The Forum is proud to announce the release of this new best-practice guide from the Race/Ethnicity Task Force. This document provides information about the new federal race and ethnicity standards and serves as a toolkit from which users may select and adopt strategies to help implement the new guidelines at the state and school district levels. Topics covered include the development of policies and procedures, communication with staff and the public, re-identification, as well as coding, storing, reporting, and bridging data. Managing an Identity Crisis: Forum Guide to Implementing New Federal Race and Ethnicity Categories is now available for download. Print copies have been in high demand and will be available soon.
checkmark icon Handbooks Online Version 6.0—A new version of the NCES Handbooks Online is now available to help education agencies and institutions collect uniform and comparable data. Version 6.0, which reflects changes made during the latest annual revision of the Handbooks, includes new and revised data elements, definitions, options, and instances. Handbooks Online Version 6.0 is available at Handbooks Online This new version contains two new option sets including FIPS County and MSA Codes; updated web pages; geocoding; activities; transportation, including vehicle information, bus route, and bus stop; and a new appendix on the revisions to the federal classification of race and ethnicity.
checkmark icon Forum Curriculum for Improving  Education Data Online pictureForum Curriculum for Improving Education Data Online—The National Forum on Education Statistics, in conjunction with the Schools Interoperability Framework Association (SIFA), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and the Central Susquehanna (PA) Intermediate Unit, is now offering two free online courses based on the Forum Curriculum for Improving Education Data. These courses, available now free of charge at SIFA University, are meant to help local education agency (LEA) staff improve the quality of their data. Because effective data driven decisionmaking relies on the availability of high quality data, the ultimate goal is to enhance teaching and learning.

The first course, Improving Education Data Part 1—Creating a Foundation, introduces concepts related to creating a culture of quality data. Lessons focus on establishing a culture of quality data through assessment of a local education agency’s data quality, classification of education data, and examination of security and confidentiality. The second course, Improving Education Data Part 2—Coordinating Data Quality, looks at information related to the responsibilities of data coordinators/stewards and at how to plan LEA-level data quality. Lessons cover data coordinator/steward responsibilities, data flow and cycles, data entry, creation and use of a data dictionary, development of a data calendar, types of data errors, validation and audit of data, and communication.

These courses include activities, discussions, presentations and support materials and are designed to be either instructor-led or self-paced. LEA staff can take the courses in a group or individually and certification is available for those who pass the final exams given at the end of each course. Register now to take the courses and related assessments, and join discussions about improving data quality.


Summer 2008 Forum Meeting in Bethesda Maryland picture

Summer 2008 Meeting Recap

The Summer 2008 Forum Meeting was held in downtown Bethesda, MD from July 2830. Highlights included:

checkmark icon NCES Commissioner’s Remarks—NCES Commissioner Mark Schneider kicked off the Meeting with a characteristically spirited update. The Commissioner reported on a culture shift in his organization towards a heightened desire to promote easy and widespread data use. He also highlighted many NCES activities including an upcoming NAEP pilot for 12th graders, plans for a high school longitudinal study, and the release of a new RFA for the statewide longitudinal data systems grants program. This new round of grants will help states to, among other things, calculate cohort graduation rates and establish links between K-12, postsecondary and other entities.
checkmark icon FERPA Update—Leroy Rooker from the Family Policy Compliance Office of the U.S. Department of Education reviewed the newly proposed FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) regulations and the rationale behind them, as well as some of the comments received about the guidelines. Discussions addressed outsourcing, data sharing, re-disclosure, K-16 databases, and personally identifiable information. Forum members were told to expect the final regulations by the Winter 2009 Meeting.
checkmark icon NCES Teacher Compensation Update—Stephen Cornman and Frank Johnson of NCES updated the Forum on the progress and findings of the Teacher Compensation Survey (TCS). The 2007 TCS found lower pay among teachers in rural areas, higher pay for teachers in some cities and for those with master’s degrees, as well as comparable pay among male and female teachers. The 2008 collection includes 18 states and represents about a third of the country’s teachers. The presenters told the Forum to expect to see a public-use data file and a Research and Development Report on the pilot by the end of 2008.
checkmark icon Data Across the P-20 Education System—At the conclusion of the Meeting, Aimee Guidera of the DQC gave an informative and well-received presentation on P-20 alignment, highlighting the progress towards and the challenges of establishing these linkages. Many states now have the capacity to link education data from preschool through postsecondary and many more have plans to establish these ties. Ms. Guidera asserted that aligning P-20 is not a technical issue, but one of political will. She encouraged states to pursue a number of action steps including creating a data sharing mechanism such as a common identifier, prioritizing P-20 alignment in state agendas, updating state privacy laws, and creating a single postsecondary repository for all public institutions.

Detailed meeting notes, including both joint sessions and standing committee meetings, presentations, and a meeting evaluation summary are now available.


P-20 Alignment

Beginning with preschool (“P”) and continuing on through postsecondary and beyond (“20”), P-20 alignment is the longitudinal linkage of student-level data through the entire education pipeline. The most critical and challenging part of this continuum is the bridge between P-12 and postsecondary data systems, which often are not able to exchange information. Forging such linkages would allow researchers to explore many questions about how our K-12 system prepares students for postsecondary and lifelong success. For example:

What percent of a district’s high school graduates go on to postsecondary education?
How many of these graduates need remediation once they arrive at a postsecondary institution?
How did those students do in high school courses and on state assessments in their problem subject(s)?
How do students perform in college level courses?
How many persist and earn degrees?
How is postsecondary success correlated with various student demographics?
What experiences do graduates have in the workforce?

Empowered by P-20 alignment to answer these important questions, we can then take action to improve our educational system – to better align curricula between the PK-12 and postsecondary levels, to develop better policies, to identify successful programs, to measure the predictive value of our assessments and other college readiness indicators, to identify problems early on, and to effectively intervene to foster long-term student success.

Many states have already begun to establish P-20 linkages (though fewer have actually linked the data) and other states are planning to develop the capability in the future (DQC). However, much work remains and many challenges must still be met, including lack of political will, prohibitive state laws, lack of common identifiers to allow data sharing, incompatible data standards, and lack of quality data. Recognizing the high value of P-20 data sharing, the Forum will continue to highlight the issue and support efforts to establish these important links from preschool through postsecondary education and beyond.


Forum Task Force Updates

The Forum currently has six active task forces working to develop resources for the education data community, several of which should be available by the Winter 2009 Forum Meeting. Task forces include:

checkmark icon Attendance Task Force—This task force’s product is nearing completion. The guide will include an exhaustive and mutually-exclusive list of attendance codes to provide the basis for accurate comparisons between districts and states. Chapters of the guide will explain why accurate attendance data are important, present a taxonomy defining terms such as “attending,” “present,” “not attending,” “absent,” etc., categorize reasons for nonattendance, and address common challenges to collecting accurate attendance data. In addition, the guide will include case studies highlighting attendance data use at the LEA and SEA level. The Attendance Task Force plans to release its final product before the Winter 2009 Forum.
checkmark icon Crisis Data Management Task Force—The Crisis Data Management Task Force plans to have a draft of its guide ready for review in the winter of 2009. The document is intended to aid elementary and secondary education agencies in the establishment of policies and procedures for collecting and managing education data before, during, and after a crisis. It will present a collection of data items useful in situations in which an agency is impacted either directly or indirectly (e.g., only receiving displaced students) by a disaster.
checkmark icon Data Ethics Task Force—The Data Ethics Task Force is putting finishing touches on a Forum Code of Data Ethics. The Code, which should be released by the Winter 2009 Forum, targets a broad range of stakeholders in the education data community. It will address ethical issues focused on the management and use of education data. Given the wide range of state statutes and regulations, the Code will be presented philosophically enough to allow it to both complement and be customizable to this broad range of circumstances. Conversely, supporting text will be specific enough to make ethical principles understandable and actionable for staff in an education organization.
checkmark icon Longitudinal Data Systems Task Force—The Longitudinal Data Systems (LDS) Task Force is creating a guide to help decisionmakers, education experts, and system developers design, implement, maintain, and use student-level LDSs. The guide will provide state and district perspectives, best practices, and pointers to many other LDS-related resources. 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. The Introduction will review the guide’s purpose and intended audience. Chapter 1 will define an LDS and introduce the components and benefits of this type of education information system. Chapter 2 will discuss the crucial, yet often overlooked, initiation, planning, execution, and evaluation stages of the LDS development process. Subsequent chapters will address data and project governance and effective data use.
checkmark icon Metadata Task Force—The Metadata Task Force is currently making final edits to its guide, which is intended to raise awareness and improve the understanding of metadata. This “data about data” is an important key to increasing the quality of the data maintained by education organizations. The group’s document will offer best practice concepts, definitions, implementation strategies, and templates/tools for an audience of data, technology, and program staff in state and local education agencies. The guide will be released prior to the Winter 2009 Forum.
checkmark icon PK-12 Data Model Task Force—The PK-12 Data Model Task Force is finishing its work on a conceptual education data model. The model will focus upon teaching, learning, and the business of schools districts, taking into consideration data elements, categories of data elements, the education process, definitions and semantics, as well as relationships among data elements. Two websites will provide supporting documents, including a web-based tool for browsing the model, links to open source tools for using the model, and tools for facilitating the collection of community input about the data model. Additionally, a user guide will supply an overview of and rationale for the data model, and will help readers use the data model and its accompanying tools. The Education Data Model, Version 1 (PK-12) should be completed later this fall.


Upcoming Events

Summer 2008 Forum Meeting in Bethesda Maryland picture   Winter 2009 Meeting
February 16–18 in Seattle, WA
Ghedam Bairu


2008–09 Forum Officers

Forum Chair: Bruce Dacey, Delaware Department of Education
Vice Chair:  Linda Rocks, Bossier Parish Schools (LA)
Past Chair: Susan VanGorden, Lakota Local School District (OH)
Staff:   Ghedam Bairu, NCES
NESAC Chair: Helene Bettencourt, Massachusetts Department of Education
Vice Chair:     David Weinberger, Yonkers Public Schools (NY)
Staff: Renee Rowland, NCES
Consultant: Maureen Matthews, CCSSO
PPI Chair: James Haessly, School District of Waukesha (WI)
Vice Chair:    Vince Meyer, Wyoming Department of Education
Staff:    Ghedam Bairu, NCES
Consultant: Beth Young, QIP
TECH Chair: Tom Purwin, Jersey City Public Schools (NJ)
Vice Chair:   Corey Chatis, Tennessee Department of Education
Staff: Tate Gould, NCES
Consultant: Tom Szuba, QIP


Newsletter Information

The Forum Voice is released as an electronic publication. To subscribe, visit the NCES News Flash. To contact the Forum, e-mail: Ghedam Bairu, fax: (202) 502-7475, or write: NCES-Forum, 1990 K Street, NW, Room 9095, Washington, DC 20006-5651.

Links to Past Issues of the Forum Voice

 Previous Page


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.