WHAT WAS ANNOUNCED?

At the 2018 Ed-Fi Summit & Bootcamp, the Ed-Fi Alliance and Certica Solutions announced their Learning Standards Initiative which includes three elements:

  1. Makes the Academic Benchmarks® repository of more than 4 million digitized learning standards available in the Ed-Fi ODS/API, enabling SEAs and LEAs who adopt Ed-Fi to freely synchronize with the relevant state, local and national learning standards through the Ed-Fi ODS/API.
  2. Allows SEAs and LEAs to author, manage and publish learning standards with a free standards management application, called Standards Connect™, instead of using documents and spreadsheets.
  3. Encourages even more vendors to use the Academic Benchmarks learning standards in their educational products, by offering a free starter license of Academic Benchmarks for a single state (for Math, English Language Arts, Science and Social Studies), plus the learning standards for the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards.

The Ed-Fi Alliance and Certica partnership unlocks for educators the capability of the Academic Benchmarks learning standards and provides immediate value to all Ed-Fi licensees. We believe this initiative is in service of supporting educators with powerful data they can use now.

WHAT IS ACADEMIC BENCHMARKS?

Academic Benchmarks is the repository and system of digitized learning standards, adopted by more than 200 education technology vendors and content providers. For more than a decade, Academic Benchmarks has captured, digitized, curated and distributed the nation’s learning standards, mainly for use in educational products.

Academic Benchmarks enables important linkages between sources of learning content, assessments, test questions, student interactions and student scores with learning standards for academic subjects and grade levels. Academic Benchmarks supports data and learning content interoperability, and ensures that educators can evaluate and make decisions with a complete view of student progress.

With Academic Benchmarks, each state, district or national standard is assigned a universal, unique identifier known as the Global Unique Identifier, or AB GUID. The AB GUIDs allows content publishers and edtech vendors to align assessment and instructional content to learning standards and exchange this information with other vendors and with educators—hence, a thriving ecosystem of interconnected learning content and technology.

DOES CERTICA OWN ACADEMIC BENCHMARKS?

Academic Benchmarks was founded in 2004 and was acquired by Certica in 2016.

WHEN WILL THESE CAPABILITIES BE AVAILABLE?

  1. The Academic Benchmarks GUIDs will be incorporated into the Ed-Fi ODS/API and will be accessible through the Ed-Fi Admin Panel around the end of 2018.
  2. The learning standards management application, Standards Connect, is available now for any education agency—even SEAs and LEAs which have not yet adopted Ed-Fi. Contact Certica here if you wish to learn more.
  3. Vendors who wish to take advantage of the free starter license, called the AB Connect Starter Edition, can do that now. Vendors can sign up for a free license even if they do not currently integrate with Ed-Fi. Contact Certica here if you wish to learn more.

I WORK IN A SCHOOL DISTRICT. HOW WILL THIS BENEFIT ME?

As an educator or administrator in a school district, this Learning Standards Initiative means that you will benefit from a more comprehensive set of student-related data, when data from the SIS and other administrative systems (such as student demographics, attendance, enrollment, discipline, etc.) can now be combined with student assessment and instructional data. This consolidated, comprehensive set of data can be analyzed at the most granular, test-item level, with descriptions of the learning standards. A related benefit is that you can evaluate students’ progress from multiple perspectives, such as state assessments, benchmarks and formative assessments. This allows you to make powerful comparisons and correlations which can help to inform instruction, plan targeted interventions, and support personalized learning.

I WORK AT A STATE EDUCATION AGENCY. HOW WILL THIS BENEFIT ME?

Every state education agency struggles with the process to develop, manage and publish learning standards in a way that is efficient and leverages the contributions of multiple authors and reviewers. Most states use spreadsheets and shared documents to create and revise standards; and most standards are published in PDFs and on state websites. Further, most every state would prefer to publish learning standards in a digitized format that can be easily consumed by educational products  that support your state’s standards.

This Learning Standards Initiative allows your agency to use a free standards management application that is pre-loaded with all your state’s standards (curated currently by Academic Benchmarks), and enables you to easily review, revise and manage your standards. The Standards Connect application is also synced with the Academic Benchmarks system and repository of learning standards, so each time you publish standards revisions, those changes are available to both vendors and LEAs who adopt Ed-Fi.

An additional benefit for states who adopt Ed-Fi, is that the entire repository of your state’s standards will be available to you to link assessment data, such as test scores, and report on that data comprehensively.

I’M A VENDOR AND I MANAGE DISTRICT DATA IN MY EDTECH APPLICATION. HOW WILL THIS BENEFIT ME?

Vendors which use the Academic Benchmarks learning standards and GUIDs in their technology products to align, organize, search and connect learning content (both assessments and instructional content) will now be able to post district data to the Ed-Fi ODS/API with the relevant learning standards. If you are not using Academic Benchmarks today, you can take advantage of a free license which includes learning standards for a single state, plus learning standards for the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards.

I’M A VENDOR WITH A PRODUCT THAT ANALYZES, VISUALIZES AND REPORTS ON STUDENT DATA. HOW DOES THIS HELP ME?

Vendors which provide analytic and reporting applications are now able to access a more comprehensive set of student-related data in the Ed-Fi ODS/API. Data from multiple assessments can potentially be available for reporting, at the most granular, test item-level. As such, the Ed-Fi ODS/API becomes an even more valuable hub for student data and you benefit by providing an even richer set of analytics for your district users, to support their instructional needs. Vendors which focus solely on analytics and reporting do not need to license Academic Benchmarks to consume district data from the Ed-Fi ODS/API.

AREN’T THERE OTHER LEARNING STANDARDS CATALOGS AVAILABLE?

There are a few alternate methods for capturing learning standards and applying unique identifiers, but other methods aren’t nearly as well adopted as Academic Benchmarks. Academic Benchmarks is a mature, widely-adopted, operationalized system of learning standards and unique identifiers.

WHICH ASSESSMENT, INSTRUCTIONAL, LMS AND SIS VENDORS ARE ALREADY USING ACADEMIC BENCHMARKS?

Most of the leading, national assessment platform vendors and assessment publishers use Academic Benchmarks in their products today. Contact Certica here if you wish to learn more.

WHY IS THE ED-FI ALLIANCE ENTERING INTO THIS PARTNERSHIP WITH CERTICA SOLUTIONS?

The Ed-Fi Alliance realizes that having the capability to link learning standards to student data and assessment results seamlessly across systems is a top priority of the Ed-Fi Community. In thinking about how to solve this challenge, the Ed-Fi Alliance looked to the most widely-adopted learning standards solution available in the market today. The Ed-Fi Alliance knew that if the Academic Benchmarks repository of learning standards could be incorporated into the Ed-Fi ODS/API quickly, a significant challenge could be solved for both educators and technology providers.

IS ED-FI INVESTING IN CERTICA SOLUTIONS?

The Ed-Fi Alliance is not investing in Certica Solutions, but has signed an agreement with Certica to make the Academic Benchmarks learning standards available for use in the Ed-Fi ODS/API, to the Ed-Fi Community, at no charge.

WHAT ABOUT IMS CASE?

Does this announcement mean that the Ed-Fi Alliance is choosing Academic Benchmarks over the IMS Global Competencies and Academic Standards Exchange® (CASE®) specification, which is an open standard?

No. The Ed-Fi Alliance is 100% supportive of efforts to build open standards in the education sector and is monitoring the adoption of IMS CASE. As with other Ed-Fi Community efforts, we will work to align our standards and technologies with the priorities of our Community members. At this time, Academic Benchmarks is the most widely-adopted learning standards platform and by bringing this information into the Ed-Fi ODS we are unlocking significant benefits to empower educators with data now.

WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?

The Ed-Fi Alliance and Certica will be hosting a live webinar on Thursday, November 8, 2018 at 1:00pm CST. Register here to attend the webinar and learn more.

Also, if you’d like more information sooner than November 8 or want to take advantage of the free capabilities that are described in this FAQ, contact Certica by completing the contact form on the Academic Benchmarks web page. We’ll contact you back at a time convenient for you.