There’s a treasure trove of valuable educational data being collected about K-12 students in the U.S. But historically, most of it has been stored in silos, reported on in aggregate for compliance purposes, and then largely forgotten… kind of like last year’s best-sellers, back before Amazon came around to make all those great books,  previously buried in warehouses and remainder stacks, available to anyone who needed them at the click of a mouse.

Today, we’re launching version 1.0 of the Ed-Fi solution with the express purpose of empowering educators with easy-access to all the data gathered about their students. Available for free via license, Ed-Fi is a comprehensive suite of tools that can be used to quickly and cost effectively implement classroom-ready, student-level data applications. We designed it to be the Amazon of student data – easy to use, ubiquitous and efficient.

Lofty? Sure. Controversial? Doubtless. But for all the many educational data standards in place today, most teachers in the millions of classrooms and roughly 14,000 school districts nationwide still lack fingertip access to the student-by-student information they need. By making Ed-Fi available to state and local education agencies, organizations and vendors serving the education sector, we’re hoping to initiate a rapid, nationwide movement to solve that problem.

As for the inevitable questions that will rise about whether the sector needs another standard, we say, yes, the sector needs Ed-Fi. Why?

  • First and foremost, Ed-Fi is the only data standard with a comprehensive suite of tools specifically designed with the needs of educators in mind. We defined the original specs based on input from 2,600+ educators.
  • Second, we designed Ed-Fi so to leverage and extend other standards, and to strengthen their power. Ed-Fi will not “break” the data standards states have already implemented. And Ed-Fi  is scoped to align with current and future releases of the Common Education Data Standard (CEDS) developed by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES,) an organization with which the foundation has an active, ongoing dialogue and consultative relationship.

Going Further, Faster: Next Gen Data Capture

Prior to launch, we conducted an extensive request for comment period, during which we gathered feedback from IT representatives from a diverse collection of 110 organizations. We heard from federal and state governments, school districts from across the US, educational software vendors, nonprofit organizations and consortiums involved in shaping educational data standards. The comments we received focused primarily on emerging trends in educational data capture and resulted in a Version 1.0 release that allows users to:

  • Report on holistic assessment information  –  including competency and mastery, day-to day-grades, multiple objective levels, classroom assessments and more  –   for a more detailed map of individual student capabilities against learning standards
  • Track student progress against individually defined graduation plans and career pathways, including career-specific, technical education requirements
  • Report on nuanced student profile information about learning styles, discipline offenses and more

Many states and districts have jumped on the data bandwagon and have begun the effort to use the data they collect to do more than ensure compliance. But Ed-Fi offers a rocket boost, allowing them to get further faster.  It’ll be interesting to see how the sector responds to this launch. We’re optimistic that many states, districts and leading-edge organizations will license and implement Ed-Fi.  But from where we sit, success for Ed-Fi won’t be measured in the number of licensing agreements signed. It’ll be measured by the number of teachers, principals, counselors and other educators who ultimately use the tool to do their best work with students.