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Crisis Data Management: A Forum Guide to Collecting and Managing Data About Displaced Students
NCES 2010-804
February 2010

Chapter 2. Before a Crisis: Planning for Displaced Student Data—Maintaining Data Elements

Basic data elements at the student, staff, class, school, LEA, IEU, and SEA levels can be found in the NCES Handbooks Online.

Review and maintain your basic student data items in your SIS.

In addition to the crisis event table and displaced student indicator, other data items may be necessary to improve federal and state reporting and accountability assessments. Maintaining these data elements, and ensuring their quality, is essential for collecting useful and actionable information about displaced students.

The Forum produces documents that highlight data standardization and basic data elements (See appendix A for a list of these documents).
Basic items from the student information system. When enrolling a displaced student, the receiving district needs the same data it expects from any enrolling student, including student demographic information and a list of services the student receives. In theory, most student information systems are designed to easily retrieve this information; this is not always the case in practice, especially when new items are needed or the system is operating under extreme circumstances, as occurs during a crisis. After hurricanes Katrina and Rita, for example, Impact Aid funding was available for displaced special education students, but in order to qualify for this aid, receiving districts needed information about each displaced child's special education status. Without these basic data elements and data management capabilities, these funds were hard to obtain.

Basic items from other systems. In addition to basic student data, users must be able to access related data maintained in other systems; this includes, for example, information from facilities, security, transportation, programs and services, and staff data systems.

Incorporate existing resources, including FIPS codes and other available national databases.

County information for FEMA. Historically, FEMA declares a disaster and allocates federal funds to affected regions at the administrative level of the county. Therefore, when an agency receives students from a FEMA-declared disaster area, state officials and FEMA will likely request data from the displaced student's home county. Administrative staff should be able to assign and record a Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) County Code based on address information from the exiting school or district.

In some cases, the SEA may have the FIPS code information needed by the LEAs. Similarly, the federal government maintains national school and district databases that include county FIPS codes for every school in the country.

The National Center for Education Statistics has an online tool that allows users to obtain FIPS County Codes for all public schools and districts in the United States, available at: districtsearch/index.asp.