We’re halfway through 2019 and the momentum around state interoperability efforts has been building to a fever pitch. Over the last few months, states have gathered together at every opportunity to discuss, learn, share, and push for interoperability in the education sector.

Interop. Popping up at Spring & Summer Events

March saw an interoperability takeover at SXSWEdu. In April, the Ed-Fi Technical Congress saw its biggest attendance ever! Then in May, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) convened the CIO Network and the Education Information Management Advisory Collaborative, placing major emphasis on interoperability.

At this CIO Network event, we presented our work with Wisconsin on the finance domain and how we’re supporting states with the ESSA finance transparency requirements. We also led a session on our Teacher Prep Data Model and the growing work in our community to support teacher preparation. Throughout the conference, our community’s leadership in interoperability was on display.

Last month, Ed-Fi convened 10 states–shout out Arkansas, California, Idaho, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah–for a Beginners SEA Bootcamp in Salt Lake City. During this day and a half training, we dove into the basics—understanding the Ed-Fi Data Standard and API. We did hands-on activities with tools like MeteEd and MappingEDU and witnessed the benefits of getting data out over the standardized ETL process for the Generate application.

Later in June, the State Education Technology Directors Association (SETDA) held their annual Emerging Technologies Leadership Forum to discuss interoperability for learning. CCSSO also showcased interoperability at their National Conference for Student Assessment. Events like these are so energizing; I love connecting with SEAs in the Ed-Fi Community and welcoming new states to table!

Let’s Nurture this Growth!

The commitment to data interoperability at the state level was never particularly strong; just a few states sprouting up and making this a top priority. Now, the momentum has grown noticeably.

With the leadership of CCSSO and SETDA, and in partnership with Project Unicorn, the knowledge and awareness are now building simultaneously at the district, vendor, and state levels. At their June meeting, these groups took the next step by releasing their state Commitment to Principles.  This new commitment asks states to make a clear and compelling statement on interoperability.

It’s a means to advocate for interoperability and encourage best practice. The state commitment enables collaboration not only across state agency ecosystems; it also encourages states to reach out to schools and districts and support interoperability at each level.

This commitment and the recent growth of interoperability-focused SEA events are great signs of all of our disparate efforts aligning. The consistent gatherings focused on interoperability will begin to provide clarity for decisionmakers and reduce the noise about technical options for system integration.

State education agencies have an opportunity now to commit, plan, and make interoperability a reality for students and teachers across their districts. And to make interoperability really flourish at the state level, we need to continue establishing knowledge and awareness—both about Ed-Fi’s purpose and what we mean by “data interoperability.” We’re here to help you work with each other, your technology providers, and your districts to make interoperability happen!