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The Forum Voice: Fall 1999 (Volume 2, No.2)


A Letter From the Chair
Summer Forum 1999—Our Second Decade of Work
Standing Committee News
MIS Visits Arizona in 2000
News Flash—Subscribe to NCES News
Current Forum Officers
Upcoming Events
Newsletter Information

Editorial Board

Andy Rogers, Los Angeles (CA) Unified
Kelly Powell, Arizona SEA
Nick Stayrook, Fairbanks (AK) Schools
Raymond Yeagley, Rochester (NH) Schools
Ghedam Bairu, NCES

A Letter From the Chair

During the closing session of the Summer Meeting, the Forum elected Dori Nielson (Montana Department of Public Instruction) as Chairperson for 1999-2000.

After a decade as a member of the Forum, I am somewhat awed to be viewing this organization from the position of chair. We've come a long way from the early struggles to define our work. The Forum is now at a point where the struggles are to coordinate and interrelate the multitude of activities in which we're engaged.

NCES policies and staff have fostered an atmosphere in which dedicated state and local representatives were able to find professional camaraderie and support. Over time, we have expanded the Forum membership, influence, and publications.

But major changes are at hand. We're nearing the end of a decade, the close of a millennium, the changing of the guard at NCES, and an exponentially increasing demand for educational data. The technology to meet the demand may exist, but the challenge for the Forum is to help harness that technology in an efficient manner, so that all educational levels - from classroom to policymaker - can glean useful information from the system, not just reams of meaningless data.

The current Forum activities are all directed to meet that challenge. I anticipate a year when many tasks will be completed and many more undertaken. Given the talent and commitment of the representatives and the NCES staff, I expect we'll actually enjoy facing the challenge.

-Dori Nielson


Summer Forum 1999 - Our Second Decade of Work

The Forum met in Washington, DC on July 24-26, 1999 to mark the dawning of its second decade of cooperative efforts to improve education data collection and use in the United States. As has historically been the case, the agenda was full, and much important business was accomplished (see Committee News). Among the highlights:

Policies Amended - The Forum voted to revise its policies to more fully reflect the vital role that local education agency (LEA) representatives play within the organization. LEA members now hold full member status, including the right to hold office. Membership policies were also changed to permit the appointment of official "permanent alternates" by state liaisons. Permanent alternates are authorized to attend Forum meetings and manage other Forum responsibilities in a liaison's place. The Forum Policies Manual, as revised at the Summer Meeting, can be viewed at

New Mark Selected - In an effort to improve the Forum's visibility and recognition, members voted to adopt a new symbol to represent the organization. The mark, which will appear on all future Forum materials and publications, was selected over two other choices that were put forth by TD&C's Communications and Dissemination Subcommittee.

Presentation Booth Approved - Based on a prototype that was on display at the Summer Forum Meeting, members voted to approve the purchase of a portable Forum presentation booth. It is expected that Forum members themselves will exhibit the booth at state and local conferences they sponsor or attend. Numerous requests were made to reserve the booth beginning this fall. Future requests should be sent to Terrie Squadere at Westat.

Guide Adopted - The Forum voted to accept for internal use a Product Development & Dissemination Guide as developed by the Communications and Dissemination Subcommittee. The document is based upon the premise that product production, promotion, and dissemination cannot be viewed as independent activities. It describes specific production and dissemination issues that all Forum task forces must address before beginning product development work. Upon final printing, the Guide will be shared with all current and new Forum task forces.

Members Recognized - Several Forum members were recognized during the closing session for their long-time commitment to Forum activities. Bob Beecham (NE), Lavan Dukes (FL), Roger Hummel (PA), Jo Ann Keith (CO), Ed Strozyk (WA), and Lee Tack (IA) received certificates of recognition for service to the Forum since the organization's inception in 1989. Paul Planchon (NCES) was presented with a special award for his leadership during the Forum's first decade. In addition, Gordon Green (U.S. Census), Patti High (OK), Carol Hokenson (MN), Dori Nielson (MT), Dennis Powell (IL), Andy Rogers (Los Angeles Unified), Nick Stayrook (Fairbanks, AK), Judith Thompson (CT), and Nancy Walker (WV) received certificates of appreciation for their service as Forum officers in 1998-99.

New Officers Elected - As its last order of business, the Forum elected a new slate of officers for 1999-2000. Dori Nielson (MT) was elected Chair (see Letter from the Chair) and Andy Rogers (Los Angeles Unified) was tapped as Vice Chair. Gordon Green (US Census) will continue to share his wisdom as Immediate Past Chair.


Standing Committee News

Policies, Programs, and Implementation (PPI)

During the July Forum, PPI heard an update from Peter McCabe and Edie McArthur (NCES) on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) tabulation and reporting guidelines for changes to the race/ethnicity data collections. Richard Foster from the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) subsequently announced that some of the new reporting and tabulation guidelines would be available this fall.

PPI then heard updates from Lee Hoffman and Mary McCrory of NCES about the National Cooperative Education Statistics System (NCESS) budget, basic participation contracts, and Fellows Program. The committee also considered the issue of electronic transfer of funds from federal sources to state recipients. Currently, states are having a difficult time assigning funds properly because neither the federal sources nor state recipients are being effectively identified in the transmissions. PPI will collaborate with NCES to determine how this problem can be resolved.

In other news, PPI heard two other presentations. The first was on a proposed "Integrated Performance and Benchmarking System" for Federal Elementary and Secondary Program Data Collections by Lois Peak of the Planning and Evaluation Service of the US Department of Education's Office of the Undersecretary. The system is currently in the planning stages and will be a few years in development. Leroy Rooker of the Family Policy Compliance Office then shared remarks about interagency data sharing and the confidentiality of student records.

Finally, the procedures for Data Development/Enhancement Project Proposals have been sent to the states. Review of these proposals took place in October using an updated rubric for evaluating proposals.

Carol Hokenson (MN) was elected Chair of PPI for the coming 1999-2000 year and Nick Stayrook (Fairbanks, Alaska) was elected Vice Chair. PPI did not receive any requests for new task forces.

National Education Statistics Agenda Committee (NESAC)

NESAC received updates on several education data-related projects, including reports from its Finance Task Force and Facilities Task Force. Linda Champion (FL), chair of the Finance Task Force, reported significant progress on the task of developing a Finance Data Elements Handbook. Data elements have already been identified and defined, and a draft outline of the appendix was distributed at the meeting. On a related front, work on revising the Financial Accounting Handbook 2R2 (that NCES recently awarded to a contractor) will reflect two Finance Task Force recommendations: the modernization of content and the addition of a section on new General Accounting Standards Board (GASB) reporting standards. NESAC also agreed to request the US Department of Education's commitment in pursuing the addition of two major sections on program- and site-level accounting.

Patty Bowles (UT), chair of the Facilities Task Force, announced that the group had already developed an extensive list of data elements and an outline of the final report, which will address issues such as adequacy, accessibility, capacity, technological infrastructure, and safety, security, and emergency preparedness. The target date for the draft report is July 2000.

NESAC also heard from Kathryn Chandler (NCES), who discussed the progress of the NCES Crime, Violence and Discipline customer satisfaction survey. She reported that the group is currently awaiting OMB approval of their survey. They anticipated collecting, analyzing, and reporting findings by January 2000. A crime, violence and discipline working group co-chaired by Annette Barwick and Bill Smith met in October to discuss and plan goals and outcomes for a crime, violence and discipline task force proposal to be submitted to PPI for approval in January 2000.

Beth Young (NCES) and Oona Cheung (CCSSO) reported that the working group for the Student Data Handbook update would be sending a list of proposed changes to NESAC in September. Andrew Kolstad (NCES) and Tsze Chan (AIR) presented an Online Data Analysis update. This software is being developed as a tool that allows users to create their own tables and comparisons using data files from CCD, SASS and NAEP. Bill Fowler (NCES) then gave an update on the NCES Data Harvesting project, an activity that will give users access to the most current school data residing on individual state websites via an NCES web page.

Finally, NESAC was also treated to a demonstration of the revised NCES website by web wizard Jerry Malitz. NESAC elected Patti High (OK) as its Chair and Kelly Powell (AZ) as Vice Chair for 1999-2000.

Technology, Dissemination & Communications (TD&C)

TD&C opened its summer business by hearing a presentation about XML and the School Interoperability Framework, a set of electronic communication standards being developed by industry. TD&C was intrigued, but wanted to learn more about the standards, especially as they relate to SPEEDE/ExPRESS and EDI.

The committee also heard updates from each of its working groups. Raymond Yeagley (NH) was pleased to report that the Statistical Networking Applications Project (SNAP) Task Force was back on schedule with the development and testing of its "Charlotte" server. Tom Ogle (MO) explained that the Technology in Schools Task Force was also making progress in its early stages of work, and that Forum members could expect the group to have produced draft materials by the Summer Forum 2000. Nathan Slater (MS), Chair of the Communications & Dissemination Subcommittee, announced that several major subcommittee efforts were being presented for Forum approval at the meeting, including the Product Development & Dissemination Guide, the Forum Presentation Booth, and the new Forum Mark. The Forum voted to approve all subcommittee initiatives (see Summer Forum 1999).

Lastly, TD&C elected new officers for 1999-2000. Nancy Walker (WV) was selected to be Chair and Raymond Yeagley (Rochester, NH) was chosen as Vice Chair.


MIS Visits Arizona in 2000

It's time for the 13th Annual NCES MIS Conference!!! The 2000 MIS Conference will be co-hosted by the Arizona Department of Education from February 28 to March 1, 2000 at the beautiful Sheraton San Marcos Golf Resort & Conference Center.

Spring is a perfect time to visit Arizona and talk MIS issues, so look for your MIS brochure in the mail or visit the NCES conference home page at for online registration. Inquiries should be directed to Beth Young at NCES.


News Flash — Subscribe to NCES News

Interested in knowing when the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) releases a new publication or data set? Or in receiving up-to-date conference information? What about getting a subscription to the Forum Voice? If you answer "yes" to any of the above questions, then you'll be glad to learn about News Flash.

News Flash is a subscription service designed to help anyone with an email address find out about NCES news. It is a "custom" service, meaning that users can self-select topics of interest, including NCES publications and data, conferences and workshops, web applications, education finance statistics, library statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress activities, National Forum on Education Statistics news, and postsecondary education updates. Whenever there is new information about an interest area, subscribers receive an email alert, including a short description of the news and a link to relevant pages on the NCES website.

News Flash can be subscribed to via the NCES website. The service is available to anyone with an email address, so tell your friends and colleagues. Whenever there is breaking news from NCES, you'll be sure to hear about it through News Flash!


1999-2000 Forum Officers

Forum Chair:  Dori Nielson, Montana SEA
Vice Chair:  Andy Rogers, Los Angeles (CA) Unified
Past Chair: Gordon Green, US Bureau of the Census
NCES Staff: 
Lee Hoffman
NESAC Chair: Patti High, Oklahoma SEA
Vice Chair: Kelly Powell, Arizona SEA
NCES Staff:
Beth Young
PPI Chair: Carol Hokenson, Minnesota SEA
Vice Chair: Nick Stayrook, Fairbanks (AK) Schools
NCES Staff :
Ghedam Bairu
TD&C Chair: Nancy Walker, West Virginia SEA
Vice Chair: Raymond Yeagley, Rochester (NH) Schools
NCES Staff:
Carl Schmitt


Upcoming Events

Winter Forum Meeting: Crystal City, Virginia, January 24-26, 2000
Contact: Ghedam Bairu
MIS Conference: Phoenix, Arizona, February 28, 29, and March 1, 2000
Contact: Beth Young
Summer Forum Meeting: Washington, DC, July 24-26, 2000
Contact: Ghedam Bairu
NCES Summer Data Conference: Washington, DC, July 26-28, 2000
Contact: Mary McCrory


Newsletter Information

The Forum Voice is released four times annually, twice as a paper publication and twice in its electronic form as available at

To subscribe, visit the NCES News Flash.

To contact the Forum, browse:, e-mail Ghedam Bairu.

Last Issue of Forum Voice (Spring 1999)

Please share comments and questions at e-mail Ghedam Bairu.

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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.