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Winter Forum 2004 Meeting Notes

National Forum on Education Statistics
February 23-27, 2004
Portsmouth, VA

Opening Session Meeting Notes
Closing Session Meeting Notes
Steering Committee Meeting Notes
PPI Standing Committee Meeting Summary
NESAC Standing Committee Meeting Summary
TD&C Standing Committee Meeting Summary
Attachment 1: Common Questions about Data Information Working Group (DIRWG)
Attachment 2: Recommendation to Expand Role of Forum Steering Committee
Attachment 3: Working with the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF): Image Used as a TabRecommendations
Attachment 4: ESSI Tasks
Attachment 5: Virtual Education: Best Practices: Request to Form Task Force/Work Image Used as a TabGroup

Attachment 1

Common Questions about Data Information Working Group (DIRWG)

U.S. Department of Education

December 29, 2003

  1. What is DIRWG?

    DIRWG is a governance body, composed of PO staff, and it's related processes designed to support the review, approval, coordination and integration of all of the Department's data and information. This process, designed in partnership with the primary business owners of the information, will support the development and implementation of an agency-wide information and data management plan. Its purpose is to better coordinate, streamline and accelerate data collection activities for both Ed staff and customers. We want to reduce the data collection burden on our customers.

    The establishment of DIRWG has been approved by the Secretary and OMB is anxious to directly work with ED to make DIRWG a success.

  2. Is it more work for me and my staff?

    No. The DIRWG will utilize a variety of tools and implement a process intended to reduce the effort and time needed to prepare and receive OMB approval on information collection requests. The DIRWG will make transparent both the process for seeking OMB approval and provide support to the Principal Office's (POs) in terms of what is currently being collected so as to avoid duplication of effort.

  3. Is it redundant or duplicative of anything we already do?

    No. The purpose of this effort is to reduce duplication and redundancy in effort both internally and externally. The DIRWG will leverage many existing isolated efforts intended to improve the quality of the information we collect and to reduce burden on our customers. For example, Phase 1 of the DIRWG will focus on the Department's discretionary grant applications as the basis for design and improvement of the process to ensure value-added-not add-on to existing work or efforts.

  4. What benefit is it to me and my work?

    DIRWG, working with the primary business owners of the information and OMB, will help to reduce the time needed for approval of information collections. By putting in place a process for development of information collection packages and providing support to the PO's in terms of what is currently collected and available for use and analysis, the DIRWG is intended to facilitate savings in terms of FTE and resources needed to collect, analyze, and use the information. It will strengthen business cases related to IT investments for data collections.

  5. How will it help my Office, the Department and those we serve?

    Currently, the Department has some IT systems developed to review and approve data collections, but little has been done to raise the level of the internal agency analysis from specific data collection clearance to review from an enterprise-wide information and data management, consolidation and integration vision. DIRWG will help change this.

    The DIRWG will enable us to certify the quality and consistency of our information and data collections and reduce burden on both our internal and external customers.

  6. What is its scope?

    The DIRWG will become the governance body for the Department's data collection, management, consolidation and integration and will advise the Investment Review Board on information requirements used in the administration and monitoring of all of the Department's grants and loans. The DIRWG will maximize the use of existing collections, ensure consistency and quality in new collections, and facilitate the integration and sharing of information. The data will remain the "property" of the Principal Office.


Attachment 2

Recommendation to Expand Role of Forum Steering Committee

February 23, 2004

The progress and growth of the Forum during the past fifteen years has led us to think about ways to improve how we are organized to do work. The original idea was that each of the three Standing Committees would make a different contribution to a single report. Today, the Standing Committees generate multiple projects and products under the coordination of the Steering Committee. I am proposing two changes that I think will make the Forum more efficient.

The first change is to formalize the Steering Committee’s role as an executive office for the Forum. The Steering Committee would handle membership activities such as regular correspondence with state education officials, new member orientation, and outreach to potential members. It would be responsible for communications—newsletters, marketing materials—and general dissemination. To this end, the Steering Committee would receive more support from the Educational Statistics Services Institute (ESSI). The job description of the full-time ESSI Research Associate lists the many communication tasks that that are necessary for the day-to-day functioning of the Forum.

Communication and dissemination are functions that are common to all of the Standing Committees. It seems sensible to consolidate those activities in the Steering Committee, both because the activities are interrelated and because this frees the Standing Committees to develop the products and ideas that the Forum wants to disseminate and communicate. Centralizing the activities that are associated with general management, communication, and dissemination creates a body of work that justifies assigning full-time support. The ESSI Research Associate, who would be responsible for providing this support, would work closely with the Forum Chairperson and the other NCES and ESSI staff who are responsible for providing you with staff support.

The second change is that these modifications would leave TD&C with only the “T” portion of its mission. Within the recent past, however, this standing committee has really been devoted to describing the best practices for implementing information technology and adopting good technical standards. For example, TD&C has produced, has in progress, or may want to establish, work groups in the following areas:

Technology in Schools - Best practices for describing technology
Technology Suite – A web-based combination of past technology publications
Weaving A Secure Web – Best practices for building and securing a website

On the agenda, this week, are proposals to examine:

Best Practices for Implementing Virtual Education
Best Practices for Standardizing Data

During this Forum meeting, TD&C members will be discussing the possibility of assuming this new role.

Under this plan, the following people will staff the Steering and Standing Committees:

Ghedam Bairu – PPI
Deborah Newby – NESAC
Andy Rogers –TD&C
Ghedam Bairu – Steering Committee

Additionally, Tom Szuba will continue to work on dissemination and communication tasks, in particular the Forum website and task force support.


Attachment 3

Working with the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF): Recommendations

February 2004

  1. Use SIF organization as a communication mechanism to engage companies that develop and support education software nationwide to provide additional perspectives on education data elements, data definitions, data quality and information needs.
    1. The broad experiences of SIF across states and districts, and their depth of support and participation in certain components of education data, could provide additional depth and breadth to NCES and FORUM products.

  2. Initiate a recurring process to inform SIF organization members of NCES and FORUM resources, especially data handbooks.
    1. SIF members should be increasingly familiar with NCES and FORUM products and activities as they develop new products.

  3. Partner with SIF organizations to share documentation of best practices and data quality success strategies, and to communicate about common issues and needs.
    1. The SIF Education Advisory Panel, User Group and Marketing Work Group participation are important SIF impact points.
    2. TD&C and PPI are important FORUM impact points for SIF.

  4. Continue to align FORUM meetings and SIF meetings to improve and expand communication.
    1. Challenges in scheduling are increasing as state participation in SIF grows, and state participants have to choose between participating in SIF meetings or NCES and FORUM meetings.

  5. Provide electronic versions of NCES data elements and definitions to SIF.
    1. Direct provision would minimize the potential for incorrect or incomplete data element definition in SIF efforts.

  6. Continue NCES review and maintenance of the NCES data handbooks and provide information on areas under review or development to SIF Technical Board and Education Advisory Panel.

  7. Facilitate FORUM participation in active Schools Interoperability Framework workgroups; to communicate regarding state and local data and information needs in education.

  8. Continue FORUM support for school district and regional service center staff participation in SIF through task orders and other FORUM activities.

  9. Designate specific persons on SIF workgroups to communicate with NCES staff or contractors on data handbooks, data elements and definitions. Consider establishing a logging/communication mechanism for data questions for the SIF working contacts to facilitate transitions among FORUM/SIF representatives.

  10. Facilitate meeting(s) of NCES FORUM/SIF participants at NCES meetings to promote communication with NCES and across SIF workgroups.


Attachment 4

ESSI Tasks


  • Draft annual letters to Chief School Officers regarding participation of Forum Liaisons
  • Draft annual letters to Chief School Officers asking them to name their State and LEA liaisons
  • Draft welcome letters to new members
  • Develop Annual Report of Forum activities

Education Associations

  • Develop short press releases to be sent to education publications
  • Contact and send Forum products to education associations
  • Follow up on association contacts

Members Packets

  • Develop a Forum members packet
  • Work with NCES to develop the new members’ orientation each July
    • Contact members who will act as mentors to new members
    • Follow up with new members through phone calls during the year
  • Develop a packet for new members
    • Contracting procedures; Special Task Order process; State liaison responsibilities;
    • LEA liaison responsibilities; Responsibilities of officers; Strategic Plan; Product Planning and Dissemination Guide; Forum Brochure

Special Task Orders

  • Participate in the review of new proposals
  • Follow up on existing Special Task Orders
    • Contact recipients just prior to deliverable due dates
    • Plan for recipients presentations to standing committees
    • Plan for recipients final presentation to Forum, MIS Conference, or Data Conference
    • Maintain spreadsheet

Steering Committee

  • Establish agendas in conjunction with Forum chair
  • Set up packets, conference calls, take meeting notes

Forum Website

  • Review monthly to make certain that it is up to date
    • Check each link to see if they still exist
    • Review pages to see if they need updating
  • After each Forum meeting, work with Westat to update listservs
    • (i.e., Forum list, Standing Committee lists, State liaison list, Steering Committee list
  • Review/edit articles for Forum Voice
    • Semi-annual articles received from standing committee vice-chairs

Forum History Book

  • Maintain/update Forum history

Forum Publications

  • Monitor the production of Forum products
    • Ensure that products move through review, graphic design, and editing efficiently


Attachment 5

Virtual Education: Best Practices: Request to Form Task Force/Work Group

Contact: Blair Loudat
February 23, 2004

Committee Requesting Task Force/Work Group: TD&C

Proposed Task Force/Work Group Name: Virtual Education: Best Practices

Proposed Task Force/Work Group Members (persons, organizations, committees, etc.):

Seven to nine Forum members, working in partnership with SEDTA

Objectives of Task Force/Work Group (relate to Forum’s Strategic Plan):

Strategic Plan Goal II: Improve coordination, integration, and consolidation of the collection and dissemination of quality education data.

To define the technical requirements for distance education, including:

  • SIS requirements for accrediting and classifying course information;
  • technology necessary for implementing in various environments (e.g., classroom, home, etc.); and
  • guidelines for selecting distance education vendors to meet the objectives above, whether other public entity or private entity.

Strategic Plan Goal III: Promote the Forum as a widely recognized cooperative body addressing issues of education data policy, and a leader in setting data standards.

Explore partnership with SEDTA, and it’s work on virtual schools and distance learning.

Do objectives Overlap (or Complement) other Task Forces or Committees?

Not within the Forum, but the objectives need to be examined so that there is not overlap with the work of SETDA.

Anticipated Start Date: Spring 2004
Anticipated End Date:
Summer 2005


Target Audience(s): Providers and users of online services.

Products and Distribution/Dissemination Strategies: To be discussed by Work Group and reported back to Forum if a Task Force is needed.

External Review Process: TBD

User Training Identified (if none, so state and provide reason): TBD

Resources Required (estimate amount of necessary contractor services, travel, etc.):

One meeting, seven-nine participants

PPI Recommendation:

Approve__    Do Not Approve___    More Information Needed: ___



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.