The Alliance launched Ed-Fi Governance during the Ed-Fi Technical Congress in April 2018, and we have witnessed amazing efforts and contributions from our community since then. As we convene for the 2019 Ed-Fi Summit, it’s appropriate to look back at some notable highlights and progress within our governance activities over the last 12 months.

The Leadership Council Provides Strategic Oversight

The education community as a whole is, as it should be, always evolving. New ideas and initiatives constantly push us to rethink what student success means, how we measure it, and how we support it. 

This year, we launched our Leadership Council to keep the goal of student success as our north star at all levels of our community governance. We look to this Leadership Council to help us understand the direction that education policy and practice is headed and how we can develop technologies to meet the needs of tomorrow. 

Members of this council include state education agency leaders, superintendents, university leaders, and key community partners positioned to push our thinking on how data should be used to support student learning and outcomes. 

Meet Our Leadership Council:

  • Susan Bunting, Secretary of Education, Delaware Department of Education 
  • Kirsten Baesler, Superintendent of Public Instruction, North Dakota Department of Public Instruction
  • Margie Vandeven, Commissioner of Education, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Kelly Staley, Superintendent, Chico Unified School District (CA)
  • Scott Muri, Superintendent, Ector County Independent School District (TX)
  • James Tager, Superintendent, Flagler County Public Schools (FL)
  • Patricia Alvarez McHatton, Executive Vice President, University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley
  • Carissa Moffat Miller, Executive Director, Council of Chief State School Officers 
  • Ross Santy, Associate Commissioner, National Center for Education Statistics 

The Governance Advisory Team is at the Heart

Our Governance Advisory Team (GAT) is at the heart of our governance process. It is made up of representatives from each community work group and our Technical Advisory Group, and at-large appointments designed to ensure a balance of community perspectives are represented. The GAT also includes representatives from the Ed-Fi Alliance and our major funders. GAT members serve for two years—a rotation process designed to refresh half the membership on an annual basis. 

Our Current Governance Advisory Team:

  • Dean Folkers, Nebraska Department of Education (Assessment Work Group)
  • John Raub, Wisconsin Department of Instruction (Finance Work Group)
  • Billy Buchanan, Fayette County Public Schools  (Reporting and Visualization Work Group)
  • Monica Hogan, Boston Public Schools (Special Education Work Group)
  • Mark Olofson, Texas Education Agency (Teacher Prep Work Group)
  • Veronica Amundson, Pittsburgh Public Schools  (Technical Advisory Group)
  • Stephen Fedore, Tulsa Public Schools (At-Large Appointment)
  • Mark Racine, Boston Public Schools (At-Large Appointment)
  • Satish Pattisapu, Arizona Department of Education (At-Large Appointment)
  • Jon Berry, Infinite Campus (At-Large Appointment)
  • Eric Miller, Illuminate (At-Large Appointment)

During 2019, our Governance Advisory Team has weighed in on topics including:

  • Raising the bar for Ed-Fi certification
  • Reviewing and endorsing various RFC’s (Request for Comment) for Ed-Fi API specifications
  • Providing input and feedback to the Alliance for annual strategic planning

The Technical Advisory Group specializes in gnarly problems

Our Technical Advisory Group meets monthly and assists the Alliance in tackling our gnarliest tech challenges. This group also oversees our Special Interest Groups. Over the last 12 months, we’ve convened Special Interest Groups on the following topics: 

The Community Work Groups are Where Innovation and Collaboration Intersect 

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” 

At the Alliance, we often quote this African proverb. This certainly holds true looking at the work being done across our five Community Work Groups. 

Assessment Work Group

Co-Chairs: Dean Folkers, Nebraska Department of Education; Ted Dwyer, Pittsburgh Public Schools

The Assessment Work Group was formed in April 2018 and has been extremely busy over the last 12 months. Highlight of the groups work include:

  • Defined use cases for, Social Emotional Learning (SEL), Rostering, and Tool Usage
  • The tech subgroup synthesized requirements from use cases and Ed-Fi tracker tickets, which have been codified into a request for comment (RFC) that is being prepared for governance approval and broad community input.
  • The API adoption and awareness subgroup has developed coalitions of education agencies to approach and assist assessment vendors in getting certified

Finance Work Group

Co-Chairs: Jill Aurand, Nebraska Department of Education, John Raub, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

When congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) it included a new requirement for states to report publically the per pupil expenditures at each school. The Ed-Fi Community met this new reporting challenge with the formation of our Finance workgroup in April 2018, announced at the Technical Congress. 

Our Finance Work Group has analyzed the existing finance domain model and, working directly with the Wisconsin DPI, created a set of standard extensions that meet the needs of the ESSA use case. The resulting Finance API specification provides a blueprint for capture, exchange  and validation of financial data for K–12 education organizations including charts of accounts, their mappings, and budget and actuals for those accounts. 

This API specification was approved by our Governance Advisory Team to move forward as an RFC in June, 2019. The Wisconsin DPI operationalizing the API in a pilot for the 2019-2020 school year. 

Reporting & Visualization Work Group

Co-Chairs: Billy Buchanan, Fayette County Public Schools, Marcos Alcozer InnovateEDU

The Reporting & Visualization Work Group has been tasked with evaluating and setting the course for the future of visualizations for the Ed-Fi community, selecting and prioritizing use cases that can benefit from a reporting revamp. 

Its technical subgroup has been reviewing the technical landscape and how different implementations are providing actionable insights to their users. This subgroup is working towards developing a set of functionality for a new MVP to test the possibilities of providing a reporting and visualization option that is cost-effective, easy to maintain and customize, and puts data into the right hands.

Special Education Work Group

Chair: Monica Hogan, Boston Public Schools; Vice-Chair: Scott Isaacson, Education Service Unit, Nebraska

The Special Education Work Group was launched in May 2019, with the intent to enhance the special education community’s engagement in, input into and use of the Ed-Fi data and technology standards. The initial focus areas for the Work Group include:

  • Collect and inventory use cases related to special education data use during Q2 and Q3 of 2019.
  • Document the major privacy rules and regulations specific to special education data collection, use and storage by the end of Q3 of 2019. 
  • Prioritize one high-leverage use case of special education data (e.g. assessment accommodations, service delivery, referral and evaluation process, etc.) to develop a Request for Comment on by the end of Q4 of 2019.
  • Create an RFC to identify and prioritize revisions (changes, additions, deletions) to the special education data domain and technology based on current implementations and prioritized use cases by the end of Q2 of 2020.

Teacher Prep Data Model Work Group

Co-Chairs: Mark Olofson, Texas Education Agency; Tiffany Fernandez, Relay Graduate School of Education

The Teacher Prep Data Model Work Group was launched in May 2019 and is comprised of representatives from the teacher preparation community: higher ed, SEAs, LEAs, vendors, professional development organizations, and other thought leaders. The purpose of the Work Group is to make the Ed-Fi Teacher Prep Data Model (TPDM) more widely adopted and to promote the sharing of lessons learned across TPDM implementations. 

Key activities of this work group have included:

  • Identifying changes to data elements and/or model structure to meet data analysis and reporting needs in pilot implementations
  • Contributing the Survey Domain from TPDM to Ed-Fi Core to serve both K-12 and higher education needs

It Takes a (Village) Community

On behalf of the Ed-Fi Alliance, I’d like to thank everyone who has rolled up their sleeves and contributed to community activities over the last year. In particular, we are indebted to the many folks serving in leadership positions.

If you would like to get involved in any of these groups you can reach out to a Governance Advisory Team member, any of the workgroup leads, anyone at the Ed-Fi Alliance, and/or send an email to governance@ed-fi.org.