Written by Jim Campbell, director, AEM Education Services, Common Education Data Standards & Maureen Wentworth, Strategic Partnerships Manager, State Education Agencies

The fact of the matter is: If you want to improve learning outcomes for all students through the effective use of education data, you must have a standardized data model to support that goal. It is very difficult to identify student needs with data at scale or to make policy decisions without an underlying data model to support those goals.

Education Data Standards organizations seeking to empower educators with data include a standard data model at the core of their work. Both the Common Education Data Standard (CEDS) and the Ed-Fi Data Standard have a unifying data model. While these two are different, it doesn’t mean they are incongruent.

Ed-Fi is focused on providing a 360-degree view of a student. This is squarely centered in the K12 education data space, with the student as the central figure around which all data swirls. The school, the teacher, the curriculum, the assignments, the assessments, the support needs—all of it exists to improve student outcomes.

CEDS has a mission to support the larger landscape of education data, from early childhood through K12 and on to postsecondary and/or the workforce. In the CEDS model, the person, rather than the student, is the central figure. The model is certainly built to enable a person to be a student, but also supports the 5th grade teacher, or the parent of a student, or the student herself taking night classes at the local community college, or all three at the same time.

The missions and use cases for Ed-Fi and CEDS are slightly different, which is reflected by the difference in our data models themselves. This does not mean the two models can’t coexist to support the full breadth of needs in the education space. In fact, we truly believe they are better together.

Since its inception, the Ed-Fi Alliance has been actively engaged in the CEDS effort. Our commitment to collaboration has been expressed in many ways, and our community continues to push us toward alignment and partnership. As a result, the unit-record level element definitions and enumerations within the Ed-Fi Core and CEDS are about 90% aligned and getting closer through efforts such as the Generate Project.

Generate is a free CEDS-based resource being developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, and is providing state education agencies with a solution for streamlined and standardized federal reporting. We are collaborating on this effort to ensure full integration from an Ed-Fi implementation into the CEDS Integrated Data Store within Generate. This collaborative effort has resulted in greater alignment and improvements within both the Ed-Fi and CEDS models.

Ed-Fi and CEDS have been working for years to ensure that you, the education stakeholder, have the supports you need to manage and use the data critical to your objectives. The truth is—solutions are already being deployed in the field where the Ed-Fi and CEDS models are working in harmony.

 See the collaboration in action at the Ed-Fi Summit:

Tuesday, Oct 9
2:45 pmEd-Fi to CEDS – Plug and Play
Wednesday, Oct 10
2:45 pmIntegrating and Aligning Ed-Fi and CEDS


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