CSIS Project Update

Project: Far West Laboratories continues to research and develop methods for electronic exchange of student information.

Kathleen Barfield, Far West Laboratories

As the various acronyms below attest, the California Student Information Services project at Far West Laboratory has been working with state, county and local school and other children's services agencies to develop a regional infrastructure and promote electronic information sharing as a way to improve the provision and coordination of services to children. Through our many pilot efforts, we've learned a great deal about what it will really take to accomplish this goal. The good news is we can get there from here. But there's plenty of work to be done, as this outline of some of our recent activities shows.

Automated Information Retrieval System Demonstration Project:
Designed to demonstrate the technical feasibility of electronic data gathering and aggregation for state reporting, the AIRS demonstration project included participation from 331 school sites in 38 districts and six county offices of education. The AIRS Evaluation Report compares current reporting for the CBEDS School Information Form with the AIRS model and outlines next steps for statewide implementation of a streamlined electronic student information reporting process. Chief among these is a recommendation to establish a statewide advisory group for AIRS. Comprised of key CDE and LEA staff, this committee's role will be to develop agreements on kinds of data that must be collected for state reporting and maintained on local databases, how these data should be collected, for example, via regional server sites, and how accurate or error free these data should be for various aggregate reporting purposes. Another key agreement for the advisory group to establish is a calendar of official dates for electronic data reporting, consistent with reporting requirements and the way data is maintained on local systems.

CCSESA Telecommunications Survey
California County Superintendents Educational Services Association Telecommunications Survey:
Funded by Kern County Superintendent of Schools, this project is designed to assess the capacity of county offices of education to serve as regional Internet service providers. The work is being completed on behalf of the CCSESA Telecommunications Technology Task Force, which has emerged as the driving force in K-12 networking. A cornerstone of the CSIS initiative, establishing a statewide 'network of networks' will enable access and transfer of critical student information among local school districts, county offices of education and state agencies.

California Regional Educational Networking Consortium:
CRENC was awarded a Pacific Bell CalREN grant to support FWL, CDE, six counties offices of education, 48 school districts, and over 300 sites to gain Internet access that will allow electronic information sharing. This is the largest K-12 networking project in the state.

ExPRESS.Cal Pilot: CRENC recipients of lines through the CalREN grant will be piloting the transfer of individual student records between schools using the ExPRESS.Cal software developed at FWL. Each county office hub has a particular focus of interest, for example, the transfer of records for mobile student populations such as homeless or migrant students, or transfers of records to institutions of higher education. Funded by CDE through the Santa Clara County Office of Education, CSIS will provide training and technical assistance to schools, districts and county offices.

California Interagency Data Collaborative, Phase I and II:
Funded by the Foundation Consortium for School-Linked Services, the first phase of this project established standards for interagency sharing of children's information. Phase II will field test the standards and extend the data standards to specific program areas. CSIS participation has been influential in shaping an open-systems approach consistent with state and federal direction in information sharing.

Migrant Student Information Network, Phase I:
Far West Laboratory, in collaboration with staff in CDE's Research, Evaluation and Technology (RET) and Migrant Education offices, will work with school districts and migrant program regional offices to develop a statewide process for providing educational continuity for migrant children through the timely transfer of student records.

During Phase I, FWL will establish an Interim California Migrant Student Directory to serve as a student locator and coordinate eligibility information on newly identified children with the assignment of student ID numbers. Migrant regional offices will use COEstar, a software product developed by Troy Rinker, former director of the Migrant Student Record Transfer System (MSRTS), to submit information collected on electronic Certificate of Eligibility forms to FWL on a daily basis. FWL will provide Internet access to the student directory for migrant regional offices to aid them in determining a migrant student's last school of attendance. This process will also allow the Migrant Program to count the number of migrant students eligible for funding. The MSIN will be fully integrated with CSIS and cooperate with similar efforts in other states to share student information.

Many thanks for your continued support throughout this effort. Please contact me if you have any comments, questions or suggestions. For more information about programs at Far West, including CSIS, point your web browser to http://www.fwl.org.

Kathleen Barfield is the Program Director of Education Information and Accountability Services at Far West Laboratory. She can be reached at (415) 565-3055 or Internet: [email protected].