Like me you have probably read innumerable emails and blogs that refer to the “unprecedented situation” we are collectively experiencing around the COVID-19 pandemic (poems anyone?). I won’t attempt to say anything especially novel or different in this blog, but do want to acknowledge that it is impacting the Ed-Fi community in profound ways. The Alliance is working to support and come alongside where we can, and adjusting our goals and strategy in consultation with the community (stay tuned for more on this.)
When we made the decision to cancel the Technical Congress, and scattered to various forms of “shelter in place” and WFH-WEH, we determined that it made sense for the Ed-Fi tech team to stay focused on delivering the suite of road map updates that were in-flight, and it is the outcome of that work during March and April is the focus of this blog. We’ve completed a suite of updates across the data standard and technology suite, which are highlighted below
ODS / API v3.4
The Ed-Fi ODS / API platform forms the heart of the Ed-Fi Technical Suite, and is designed to provide a cost-effective way of connecting data across systems, helping you turn data from something you have into something you can use. Highlights of this release include:
- Support for PostgreSQL. During 2019, the Alliance undertook work to support PostgreSQL as a backing store (in addition to Microsoft SQL Server). The initial work was done under the “Roadrunner” project and resulted in a release candidate in December 2019. The ODS / API v3.4 release brings PostgreSQL support into the core platform. Please note that is primarily targeted at local education agencies, and there are some limitations, which are detailed here.
- Data Model Changes. This release implements Ed-Fi Data Standard v3.2b. There are no breaking API or JSON model changes accompanying this release. However, platform hosts should be aware that there are some breaking database changes.
- Support for District Segmentation. The ODS / API allows several partitioning strategies: A “Sandbox” strategy can be used for non-production use cases where separate ODS is configured for each key/secret. A “Shared Instance” strategy can be used where there is no partitioning. A “Year Specific” strategy can be used where data for each school year is kept in a separate ODS. With this release, the ODS / API will also allow a “By District” partitioning strategy to support district collaboratives that want to keep each district’s data in separate ODS.
- MetaEd IDE v2.2. Implementing extensions in ODS / API v3.4 requires implementers to update to MetaEd IDE v2.2.
- Deprecation of Server-Side Bulk Load. With ODS / API v3.3 release, the Alliance announced deprecation of server-side bulk loading of XML files. While the functionality is still supported in the ODS / API v3.4 release, we intend to remove support for Bulk Load Services and the Console Bulk Loader in a future release. Therefore, implementers who depend on either of these components should plan on switching to the Bulk Load Client utility, which has been enhanced in preparation of removal of server-side bulk loading.
For more information see ODS / APi v3.4 – What’s New.
Admin App v1.8
Admin App is a web-based administrative interface for the Ed-Fi ODS / AP. Highlights of this release include:
- Graphical Claim Set Editor. A graphical editor for claim sets is now available in Admin App. This feature minimizes the complex work of writing SQL scripts to establish claim sets. See the for instructions on how to use the new feature.
- PostgreSQL support. The Admin App works against ODS / API instances using Microsoft SQL Server or PotsgreSQL.
- ASP.Net Identity (Preview). ASP.NET Identity offers secure web-form authentication as an alternative to the Active Directory support built-in today. Currently, this feature is offered as a preview, and will become part of future releases based on field usage
- Learning standards 1.1 support. The Learning Standards feature within Admin App v1.8 has been updated to version 1.1. Optimizations have been updated to help with sequencing of learning standard items as well as enhancements to learning standards updates from within Admin App.
For more information see Admin App v1.8 – What’s New.
Tech Suite Installer
The Ed-Fi Tech Suite Installer is a new offering from the Alliance. It installs and configures components of the Ed-Fi Technical Suite. The Installer automates the numerous configuration steps for Windows Server, Internet Information Server, and SQL Server required to get an instance of the Tech Suite up and running.
The Tech Suite Installer is provided in two editions: a point-and-click executable and PowerShell scripts. The point-and-click executable is designed for quick installations on a single computer, suitable for simple deployment environments, staging environments, and test scenarios. The PowerShell scripts are customizable and can be used to customize a complex deployment or for use with common deployment frameworks.
The Ed-Fi Tech Suite Installer is currently in Technical Preview, and we want to collect feedback from the community to guide its future direction and investment.
Analytics Middle Tier v2.0.0
With this release, the Analytics Middle Tier is now officially a part of Ed-Fi core technology. Highlights of this release include:
- The Analytics Middle Tier now supports Ed-Fi Data Standard v2.2, v3.1, and v3.2 (both 3.2a or 3.2b), and therefore supports Ed-Fi ODS / API across Suite 2 and Suite 3 releases.
- There is a clearly defined set of core views that are always installed, and a mechanism for the optional install of use-case specific views. The original Early Warning System and Row-Level Security views have now become optional use-case collections
- We’ve documented how the Ed-Fi community can contribute use cases. See the Contributor Guide for more details.
For more information, see Analytics Middle Tier – Release Notes.
Data Standard v3.2b
Data Standard v3.2 (the current version is 3.2b) introduces changes to the core data model around the domains commonly captured in student information systems and assessment systems. The changes in this release are intended to be non-breaking to most API clients. (Note: “Non-breaking” in this context generally means that data model changes are additive and optional, data types are generalized, or field lengths are expanded. However, any change to a data model is potentially breaking given the specific API client behavior, so all API users are cautioned to review the changes carefully.) Changes introduced in v3.2b include changes to Core Student and Assessment domains, a list of which can be found in the Ed-Fi tracker here.
For more information see Ed-Fi Data Standard v3.2 – What’s New.
Learning Standards Sync Utility v1.1
The Learning Standards Sync Utility is a tool for system administrators for synchronizing learning standards between the Academic Benchmarks Connect API and a specified Ed-Fi ODS / API instance. In addition to bug fixes, this release supports retrieving only the Academic Benchmark standards that have changed since the last synchronization, as well as an option to request information regarding the availability of Academic Benchmark standards changes.
Ed-Fi Dashboards v3.0.1
The Ed-Fi Dashboards have been updated to include support for ODS/API v3.3, as well as targeted bug fixes. In related work, the future direction and roadmap options for the Ed-Fi Dashboards is currently under consideration by the Reporting and Visualization Work Group..
We’ve Updated Technology Roadmap
We have also published an update to the Ed-Fi Technology Roadmap. This is an annual activity we had planned to do during the Technical Congress. However, with the current climate in mind, we adjusted our plans and instead made a tactical and conservative update to the road map, projecting out through the middle of the year. This allows us to remain flexible in a time of change, while providing our community with line of sight to upcoming work.
The Ed-Fi Exchange is Rocking!
It is gratifying to see that contributions to the Ed-Fi Exchange are growing. Some highlights we encourage you to check out are described below. (Please note that artifacts in the Exchange are currently restricted to access by Ed-Fi licensees. We are working to remove this restriction as part of the move to open source.)
Education Nexus Oregon
A PowerBI dashboard that provides a metric for predicting high school graduation.
Chico Unified School District
|Chico California Unified School District Tableau Reports|
These reports cover the needs of Chico Unified School District around Attendance YTD, Discipline YTD and COA2 – Classroom Load.
Metro Nashville Public Schools
|Essential Question 21: Are students on track to become college and career ready?|
This contribution provides information required to design the EQ 21 visuals using the Ed-Fi ODS/API v3 on Microsoft SQL Server and SQL SRS (Server Reporting Services). The information ranges from design decisions to analytic guidelines. The intended audiences for these documents are education organization leaders in the areas of technology, data governance, and/or assessment.
|Essential Question 24 in the Middle Grades – Are My Students Improving in Math?|
Educators at all levels need to know how students are progressing in school. While the number and types of assessment tools are nearly innumerable, progress monitoring in the middle grades was largely absent—this was learned during the first project to address the Essential Question, “Are my students improving in math?” (EQ 24) and was prevalent during this project. The purpose of this work was to address the need for students in middle grades mathematics, enhance the current EQ 24 artifacts, and update the application components with technology that
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
|Ed-Fi Credentials Starter|
Ed-Fi Credentials Starter is a stripped down version of the application which the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction uses to manage credentials for its statewide Ed-Fi implementation.
|Ed-Fi ODS/API Cloud Deployment for AWS (Suite 3)|
The Ed-Fi ODS / API deployment for Amazon Web Services consists of a set of Cloud Formation Templates and Lamda functions that make it easy to deploying a new copy of the Ed-Fi ODS / API to an Amazon Web Services tenant. The goal of these tools is to reduce the amount of time and effort needed to get a new instance of an Ed-Fi ODS/API up and running.
|Effective Assessment Data Management Group||Essential Question 58: Do teachers grades align to the various assessment results?|
The Effective Assessment Data Management (EADM) group has captured and refined a set of Essential Questions (EQ) which districts ask of their assessment outcomes data. EQ 58 asks: Do teachers grades align to the various assessment results?
This contribution provides information required to design and develop the EQ 58 visuals using the Ed-Fi data model and ODS (v2.5). The information ranges from design decisions and analytic guidelines to data tables and scripts. The intended audience for these documents are education organization leaders in the areas of technology, data governance, and/or assessment. It is assumed that knowledge of or a functional Ed-Fi ODS exists.
AEM Education Services
|Ed-Fi Generate Plug-In (Suite 3)|
The Ed-Fi Generate plug-in provides a standard means to transfer data from an Ed-Fi ODS into the Generate CEDS Integrated Data Store (IDS). The plug-in consists of a set of standardized ETLs that agencies use to migrate data from an Ed-Fi ODS into CEDS IDS and into CEDS Reporting Data Store.
|Teacher Preparation Dashboard|
The Teacher Preparation Dashboard is the result of a grant funded project and a collaboration with many Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs), states, and districts. The metrics and visualizations represented in the dashboard represent the common, top priority use cases to inform teacher preparation effectiveness and program improvement. The Dashboard can be implemented along with the Ed-Fi Teacher Preparation Data Model extensions.
MSDF – K12 Technology Team
|PowerShell script to install Ed-Fi binaries released on MyGet|
This Powershell script installs the Ed-Fi v3.3.0 binaries on a windows machine.
These documents outline the steps to create a TeamCity build and Octopus deployment for the Ed-Fi ODS API v3.x binaries.