N.C.E.S. Planning Major Redesign

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Washington--The National Center for Education Statistics has begun a thorough redesign of its data-collection activities at the elementary- and secondary-school levels.

According to briefing documents and interviews with agency officials, the project's objective is the development of a new 10-year program of data collection to begin in the fall of 1986.

"This review is intended to be comprehensive," said Francis V. Corrigan, the agency's deputy administrator. "We're looking at the whole panoply of questions--what data are we collecting now and what data should we be collecting from now through the end of the century? This is an attempt to step back now and look at what we're doing because of the lead time needed for changes of this nature."

Concerns Spurred Review

Mr. Corrigan said the review of the agency's precollegiate data-collection activities was initiated for several reasons.

First, he said, was a recognition on the part of nces officials and data users of the need to develop new instruments to measure the effects of the various school reforms enacted in recent years and to iden-tify additional areas in need of reform. Second, the agency has received a number of requests from state officials "to define our data requests and to stick with them for a number of years," he said.

Such a move would reduce recordkeeping burdens and would improve data quality, according to Mr. Corrigan, "because even subtle year-to-year changes in data requests can cause serious problems."

According to the briefing documents, the redesign project began in March when the agency sent letters to education associations, researchers, and data users and providers asking them to comment "on emerging and continuing issues in elementary and secondary education." The responses are due on June 21.

The agency plans to produce a synthesis of the comments along with a concurrent review by nces staff members of "the sources of noncomparability and inaccuracy in current education data collections." The document is to be distributed widely by the end of the summer.

The publication of the document will be followed by a period of public comment, including three regional hearings beginning in November. The entire redesign plan is to be completed by February 1986.--tm

Vol. 04, Issue 39

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