Guest-authored by Monica Hogan (Director of Analytics, Boston Public Schools) 

This year’s Ed-Fi Technical Congress in Tampa brought together school districts, state education agencies, and technology providers to learn from each other and help shape the future of the Ed-Fi Standard. As the Director of Analytics for Boston Public Schools, this was my first Ed-Fi Tech Congress, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.

At Boston Public Schools (BPS), we are reaching a phase of our Ed-Fi implementation where we have to make critical decisions. What level of assessment detail should be stored in our ODS? How many years of data should we load into the ODS? How do we approach complex program data that doesn’t fit neatly into the data standard? While none of these questions have a simple answer, attending the Tech Congress gave our team the opportunity to access Ed-Fi’s greatest asset in the pursuit of answers: the community.

Over the course of two days, the Ed-Fi Alliance staff led 28 sessions on topics ranging from the Teacher Prep Data Model to technical boot camps. I had the privilege of sharing the BPS experience working with Illuminate Education on their Assessment Outcomes API Certification—sharing our lessons learned with other districts and assessment vendors.

Most exciting to me, as a social worker by training, was the official launch of Ed-Fi’s Special Education Working Group. This group is tasked with reviewing the special education domain currently in the Ed-Fi Standard and identifying data needs, core elements, and technology changes that will positively impact special education service delivery and student achievement. The power of the Ed-Fi Community was evident in the room during this working group session, as stakeholders from all sectors shared similar challenges and a desire to do the technical work necessary to make improvements.

The Tech Congress ended with the Tech Town Hall—an opportunity for members of the community to advocate for changes they’d like to see before each organization voted. This process speaks to Ed-Fi’s democratic, community-driven nature, and illustrates the importance of diverse participation. I’m excited to reconvene with the Ed-Fi Community at the Summit in the fall to see how the plans and ideas shared at Tech Congress have been implemented.