As part of the Ed-Fi Alliance, I love seeing how the education data systems sector has evolved in just a few short years. The changes go beyond technology – I see a sense of sharing and community that, until recently, just wasn’t possible.

One of my favorite quotes comes from an Ed-Fi Alliance member’s CIO: “Ed-Fi is the grease that allows the sharing to happen.” Why do I love it? Because that’s the Ed-Fi vision: Sharing to improve the technologies that make things better for teachers and kids.

We created Ed-Fi technology as a freely available and shared data standard, including a comprehensive and field-tested K-12 data model. Both the technology and the Ed-Fi Alliance were born out of an understanding that the education sector could benefit from collaboration.

Prior to the launch of Ed-Fi technology, states and districts developed complex backend data systems in isolation. This method meant that they couldn’t easily share software systems (or any improvements they made to those systems) with one another. At the same time, vendors faced barriers to innovation that ported advances made in one state to other states. Why? Because almost all integration work was one-off. The lack of an interoperable standard kept costs, complexities and risks high.

We saw the need for collaboration; it led to our efforts to develop Ed-Fi technology, and eventually to the genesis of the Ed-Fi Alliance. Today, we’re seeing the fruits of that work. Wide adoption of Ed-Fi technology has given states, districts and vendors a common starting point, and begun to open things up. The power of collective input to move the sector forward with the common goal of improving student achievement is enormous.

Here are a few of the benefits we’ve seen to date:

  • New adopters and licensees take pride in building (and sharing) solutions that their peers can easily adopt.
  • Vendors reap the benefits of lower integration and deployment costs across a potential market of 40% of the nation’s student and teacher population.
  • Once siloed data is now being used to help teachers and kids in the classroom. Its impact is now evident in the performance of districts where it’s in use. As you’ll see in this video from Lubbock ISD in Lubbock, Texas, educators are recognizing the benefits in their day-to-day work.

The Ed-Fi Alliance exists to accelerate shared solutions. That’s why we’re so committed to listening to our members. They are in the field, and they can help us understand what stakeholders at every level—from IT to classroom—need from technology. This level of transparency and openness is paramount to us in order to ensure we’re working to meet the needs of those at the heart of all we do: students. 

We’re excited about, and committed to community and transparency, and we’ll continue to listen. We welcome the chance to hear from you.