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The Forum Voice: Spring 2010 (Volume 13, No. 1)


Editorial Board
Welcome New Members
New Associate Member: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
New Resources
Linking Student and Teacher Data
Common Data Standards Initiative
Forum Invitation to ED: Continuing the Data Dialogue
National Education Data Model
Lee Hoffman Retiring
Winter 2010 Meeting Recap
Forum Task Force and Working Group Updates
Upcoming Events
2009-10 Forum Officers
Newsletter Information
Links to Past Issues of the Forum Voice

Editorial Board

Kathy Gosa, Kansas State Department of Education
Patricia Sullivan, Texas Education Agency
Laurel Vorachek, Anchorage School District (AK)
Lee Rabbitt, Newport Public Schools (RI)
Ghedam Bairu, NCES

Welcome New Members

At this year's Winter Meeting in Phoenix, the Forum welcomed twelve new members. We look forward to working with them and seeing them again at the Summer 2010 Forum Meeting in Bethesda, Maryland. New members include:

  • Tim Anderson, Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Frank Cernik, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
  • Craig Hoyle, Regional Education Laboratory–Northeast & Islands
  • Candy Johnson, Kentucky Department of Education
  • Janice Johnson, Maryland State Department of Education
  • Brent Kay, Orange Southwest Supervisory Union (VT)
  • Marilyn King, Bozeman Public Schools (MT)
  • Douglas Levin, State Education Technology Directors Association
  • Judy Merriman, South Dakota Department of Education
  • Dorice Miller, North Dakota Department of Public Instruction
  • Tom Olson, South Carolina Department of Education
  • Ken Wagner, New York State Department of Education

New Associate Member: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The Forum is pleased to welcome the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as an associate member. At the Winter 2010 Forum Meeting, members voted unanimously to accept the organization's request to join and an invitation was extended to the foundation shortly thereafter.  For over a decade, the Gates Foundation has worked around the world to enhance healthcare and reduce hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, the foundation seeks to expand educational opportunities and success. To this end, the Foundation has focused on many education issues, including improving the affordability and quality of early childhood education, boosting high school graduation rates and college readiness, and increasing postsecondary completion rates. The Foundation also provides scholarships to help low-income and minority students afford college. Corey Chatis, Senior Program Officer on the Foundation's Research and Data Team and a former Forum SEA member, will represent the Gates Foundation in the Forum.  We look forward to a productive dialogue with this important player on the national education stage, and to the opportunity to raise the Foundation's awareness of the work and needs of state and local education agencies involved in the efforts of the Forum.


New Resources

checkmark icon Forum  Guide to Data EthicsForum Guide to Data Ethics—The Forum Guide to Data Ethics presents a code of ethics for data management in education settings. Its canons, examples, descriptions, and recommendations reflect situations that arise in real schools, school districts, and state education agencies. The guidance is intended to supplement existing data ethics policies in education organizations or serve as a template when organizations create new policies. The document is now available electronically in both PDF and HTML formats, and can be ordered in print at at no cost.
checkmark icon Crisis  Data Management: A Forum Guide to Collecting and Managing Data About Displaced  StudentsCrisis Data Management: A Forum Guide to Collecting and Managing Data About Displaced Students—The Crisis Data Management: A Forum Guide to Collecting and Managing Data about Displaced Students provides recommendations for collecting and maintaining data about students displaced by a crisis (e.g., hurricane, fire, flood, etc.), whether they are moving in or out of your organization. The document includes recommendations that can be used by elementary and secondary education agencies to establish policies and procedures for collecting and managing education data before, during, and after a crisis. This Forum product is now available as a PDF and free print copies can be ordered at
checkmark icon Shared Knowledge for Shared Success (brochure) Shared Knowledge for Shared Success (brochure)The Forum's new outreach brochure, Shared Knowledge for Shared Success, is now available in print and PDF to help raise awareness of the Forum's many helpful publications. The brochure includes a list of Forum publications, a brief history of the organization, an overview of its membership and unique perspective, and more. Order some for your colleagues today at and help spread the word about the Forum.



Linking Student and Teacher Data

Numerous stakeholders at the national, state, and local levels are trying to link teacher and student data on the assumption that making such a connection can provide insight into the effects of individual teachers, teacher preparation programs, certifications, school leadership, and other educational factors that impact student performance. Despite this great potential, it is clear that there are limitations to existing methodologies and data available for this purpose. At the Winter 2010 Forum Meeting (see the recap below), discussions in a joint session and standing committees highlighted many of the issues important to linking student and teacher data. Forum members raised questions about policy, methodology, and technical feasibility, as well as the political reality and implications of using these linked data. For instance:

  • What elements are fair to use in teacher evaluation?
  • How can student performance be integrated as one of numerous components of fair teacher evaluation?
  • While teacher identifiers are essential, how will they be implemented (e.g., SSNs, staff identifiers, certification IDs, or license numbers)?
  • How long does a teacher have to be instructing a student to be accountable for the student's progress?
  • Who should be held accountable for a migrant or highly transient student?
  • What happens when multiple staff members “team teach” a single student or group of students?
  • How do we acknowledge that student performance is a multi-year process (i.e., advances in one year affect and are affected by prior and subsequent academic years)?
  • How do we address academic subjects that are not assessed (e.g., music and art)?
  • Are commonly used assessments designed for this type of application?
  • What burden does the establishment of this link place on LEAs?
  • What policies and technical capabilities and features need to be in place at the local and state levels to facilitate the accurate matching of students with their teachers (e.g., course code system, validation procedures, etc.)?

Going forward, it is important that policymakers and other stakeholders are careful to ensure that we are collecting the right information and applying it in the right ways. The Forum is interested in playing a role in this important discussion and will continue to study the issue at future meetings.

Common Data Standards Initiative

 At the Winter 2010 Forum, Nancy Smith (NCES) provided an update on the work of the Common Data Standards Initiative (see meeting notes). The Initiative's Technical Working Group continues to build a voluntary, common vocabulary of education data standards―definitions, code sets, and technical specifications―to help education agencies maintain a key subset of data that are comparable, interoperable, and portable. While the group is currently focusing on elements of importance in K-12 and the transition to postsecondary, future phases of the Initiative may expand this scope to encompass early education and the workforce. In April, the Initiative's website will begin to share the Initiative's work, solicit feedback, answer questions through a FAQ, and present use-case scenarios. A Forum listserv message will announce the new site's URL.

Forum Invitation to ED: Continuing the Data Dialogue

Following a presentation by Catherine Solomon (ED) on data collected for the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF), Race to the Top (RTTT), and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), members of the Forum's TECH Committee voiced interest in continuing the dialogue with ED about these important initiatives.  While strongly supportive of the goals of SFSF, RTTT and ARRA, members would like to know more about how the data collections associated with these programs will be conducted going forward in order to ensure that education agencies are well-prepared to meet reporting expectations. In particular, members were interested in:

  • Sustainability: Should states plan on collecting and reporting these data for a limited time (i.e., for the duration of the grants) or on building permanent collection systems?
  • Timelines: Can reporting deadlines incorporate the time needed to develop a quality data collection and reporting system?
  • Technical Guidance: Will ED provide detailed definitions and technical specifications related to these data collections prior to allocating awards?
  • Administrative Support: Can SFSF provide funds to support the additional administrative and technical infrastructure needed to comply with these new data reporting requirements?

To allow the Forum to gain answers to these important questions and continue to inform ED about state and local concerns about these critical national initiatives, an invitation has been extended to an ED representative to speak at the Summer 2010 Forum Meeting.

National Education Data Model

 Version 2.0 of the National Education Data Model (NEDM) is now available. NEDM is a "conceptual but detailed representation of the education information domain" that is intended to foster a "shared understanding among all education stakeholders as to what information needs to be collected and managed at the local level in order to enable effective instruction of students and superior leadership of schools." The model's recently unveiled website includes the workable data model, a number of data sets, and a growing number of reports.

NEDM is a comprehensive, non-proprietary catalog of data elements, definitions, and standards, and a description of the relationships among the elements used by education organizations. Numerous data sets are provided on the model's website, detailing data items from outside of NEDM from sources such as ARRA, Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC), Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF), Education Data Exchange network (EDEN) data files, federal reports, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), and more. A range of reports are also available on the site, including:

  • a "Standard Comparison Report" that lists and compares critical standards, specifications, and data sets used within P-20;
  • a "State Core Report" that lists the data elements and associated standards currently present in the longitudinal data systems of nineteen states and denotes the necessity of those elements for various federal collections;
  • an "Early Childhood Report" that provides details on standards currently available in early childhood education; and
  • a "Transcript Report" that provides a four-way comparison between core NEDM elements with the three commonly used transcript standards (Student Record Exchange of SIF, PESC High School XML-Transcript, and College XML-Transcript).

Through NEDM's website, users with various interests and skill sets can explore the model in two ways. A Technical View, geared mainly toward data system designers, represents the model as a taxonomy of data elements, allowing users to explore classes, subclasses, elements, attributes, and relationships. Alternatively, a non-technical "Education View," designed for educators, enables users to explore the model from the top down through six major education functional areas. Comments from the public are welcomed as work continues to refine and expand the content and usability of NEDM.

Lee Hoffman Retiring

After more than two decades with NCES, Lee Hoffman will be retiring this spring. Since 1988, Lee has participated in and overseen many NCES projects including the Common Core of Data and the National Cooperative Education Statistics System, which includes the Forum. Over the years, Lee has been many things to her colleagues―a boss, a mentor, an "institution," and a friend. The Forum will miss her guidance, consistency, wisdom, and warmth. With sadness and gratitude, we wish Lee a very happy retirement.

Winter 2010 Meeting Recap

 Arizona hosted the Winter 2010 Forum Meeting in downtown Phoenix on March 1-2. Linda Rocks (Bossier Parish Schools, LA) led her first Forum as Chair. Nancy Smith (NCES) provided an update on the work of the Common Data Standards Initiative, followed by presentations from Elizabeth Laird (Data Quality Campaign) and Hans L'Orange (State Higher Education Executive Officers) on states' progress towards and challenges associated with the linkage of early childhood and postsecondary education data to K-12. In the afternoon, George Noell (Louisiana Department of Education) ended the day with an engaging presentation on his state's linkage of student and teacher data and the use of those links to evaluate teacher preparation programs. On Tuesday morning, Catherine Solomon (Office of the Assistant Secretary, ED) discussed ARRA, RTTT, and SFSF metrics from the federal government's perspective, followed by a panel of SEA representatives―Kathy Gosa (Kansas State Department of Education), Irma Jones (Tennessee Department of Education), and Dianne Bailey (Wyoming Department of Education)―who shared their states' experiences with and approaches to handling the new collections. The meeting closed with an update from Lee Hoffman on NCES's recent activities and accomplishments. Detailed meeting notes―including joint sessions, standing committee, and Steering Committee meetings, presentations, and supporting materials―are now available.



Forum Task Force Updates

checkmark icon Crime, Violence, and Discipline Working GroupThe Crime, Violence, and Discipline Working Group is updating previous Forum publications on discipline data to help establish a consistent body of terms and definitions that are consistent with federal reporting needs. Since the Forum's 2002 publication on reporting discipline data, Safety in Numbers, several changes have occurred in the collection of these data that warrant a revision of the guide. The working group will analyze a cross-walk to the Special Education, Office for Civil Rights, and Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools data collections produced by ED, which will then be integrated into the update of Safety in Numbers. The group hopes to publish its update by July 2010.
checkmark icon Education Privacy Working Group—Based on recent FERPA guidance and changes in education management and use, the Education Privacy Working Group is updating the Forum's existing documents on privacy. The group's forthcoming product will be published as a single web document and may be updated in the future based on subsequent guidance from ED. The Family Policy Compliance Office, the ED office that implements FERPA, will review the product before its release, which is expected in summer 2010. While this larger product will be geared towards a broad audience, smaller print documents may follow to target more specific user groups.
checkmark icon Elementary/Middle School Course Classification Working GroupThe Elementary and Middle School Course Code Classification Working Group is creating course codes for elementary and middle schools based on the SCED code model, though several modifications have been made to reflect the nature of courses in earlier grades. With the help of a consultant (MPR Associates, Inc.), the group has completed a draft coding structure, which has been posted for Forum review. The final product, which will include a detailed course code system and seek to strike a middle ground between the range of needs at the LEA and SEA levels, is expected in summer 2010.
checkmark icon Longitudinal Data Systems Task Force—The Longitudinal Data Systems Task Force has completed a final draft of its product, which is currently in the final review and approval phases and will soon be submitted for editing and design work. This sizeable document is intended to help state and local education agencies meet the many challenges involved in building robust longitudinal data systems, populating them with quality data, and using the information to inform education decisionmaking. Final publication is expected by summer 2010.
checkmark icon Elementary/Middle School Course Classification Working Group—The Elementary/Middle School Course Classification Working Group met at the Summer 2009 Forum to begin their work to create a taxonomy for assigning standard codes to elementary and middle school courses. Similar to the Secondary School Course Classification System (SCED), this taxonomy is intended to make it easier for school districts and states to maintain longitudinal student records electronically.  It will also help them transmit course taking information among student information systems—from one school district to another, and from a school district to a state department of education. The group is currently working with a consultant to develop a proposed coding structure. The Working Group’s next meeting will be at the Winter 2010 Forum.
checkmark icon Longitudinal Data Systems Task Force—The Longitudinal Data Systems Task Force is currently developing Traveling Through Time: The Forum Guide to Longitudinal Data Systems to help state and local education agencies meet the many challenges involved in building robust LDSs, populating them with quality data, and using this new information to improve the educational system. With emphasis on the non-technical, business side of LDS development, this document explores a broad range of issues involved in establishing an LDS that will have lasting and far-reaching impact. The group has posted a partial draft document on its webpage and hopes to release the final product by the Winter 2010 Forum Meeting.
checkmark icon Section 508 Working Group—The Section 508 Accessibility Working Group is advancing a short document to promote awareness of Federal Section 508 regulations for public organizations that receive federal funds (including SEAs, LEAs, and schools), which require that electronic information be accessible to all people, including those with disabilities. A public review draft is expected before the Summer 2010 Meeting, with final publication following shortly thereafter.


Upcoming Events


Summer 2010 Meeting
July 26–28
Bethesda, Maryland
Ghedam Bairu


2009–10 Forum Officers

Forum Chair: Linda Rocks, Bossier Parish Schools (LA)
Vice Chair:  Kathy Gosa, Kansas State Department of Education
Past Chair: Bruce Dacey, Delaware Department of Education
Staff:   Ghedam Bairu, NCES
NESAC Chair: David Weinberger, Yonkers Public Schools (NY)
Vice Chair:     Patricia Sullivan, Texas Education Agency
Staff: Renee Rowland, NCES
Consultant: Maureen Matthews, CCSSO
PPI Chair: Vince Meyer, Wyoming Department of Education
Vice Chair:    Laurel Vorachek, Anchorage School District (AK)
Staff:    Ghedam Bairu, NCES
Consultant: Beth Young, QIP
TECH Chair: Patsy Eiland, Alabama Department of Education
Vice Chair:   Lee Rabbitt, Newport Public Schools (RI)
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

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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.