Sections of FAQ


Who created and owns Ed-Fi technology?

Ed-Fi technology was developed by the Ed-Fi Alliance with funding from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. Today, the Ed-Fi Alliance owns and issues licenses for Ed-Fi technology.

How was Ed-Fi technology developed?

Ed-Fi technology used as its starting point the U.S. Department of Education’s Common Education Data Standards (CEDS). Input from state education agencies, local education agencies, vendors, and teachers guided the development of Ed-Fi technology features. The Ed-Fi Alliance Advisory Council―composed of education agency representatives from states and school districts that are implementing Ed-Fi technology―and the Alliance team guide future technical developments.

How much does it cost to license, implement, and use Ed-Fi technology?

States, districts, schools, vendors, or service providers can obtain a completely free, non-transferable license to use Ed-Fi technology, which provides perpetual, unrestricted access and usage rights to its components. For more information and a copy of the license terms, see our licensing form.

The cost of implementing the Ed-Fi technology depends on complexity of the implementation and several other factors. These factors include the choice of application vendor and implementation plan variables such as whether internal staff or external vendors (e.g., system integrators) will be used. Any and all fees will be charged by third-party vendors. The Ed-Fi Alliance does not charge for the license or usage of Ed-Fi technology.

What is an Ed-Fi-powered dashboard?

Educational dashboards are secure, browser-based collections of interactive charts, gauges, reports, and other visual indicators that give educators and parents on-demand access to timely, relevant, and actionable information about student performance.

Ed-Fi technology includes a dashboard starter kit that enables a school district or state to quickly implement and customize dashboards in their existing technology environment without starting from scratch. Ownership and management of the data remains with the district or state agency.

Ed-Fi-powered dashboards enable educators and parents to easily monitor critical performance indicators from a variety of sources in a secure, single location, enhancing their ability to identify early warning signs and hidden growth opportunities, and to intervene to ensure that all students avoid failure and reach their full potential. Views can easily be tailored as needed for a variety of roles, including teacher, parent, principal, and district leader.

Does Ed-Fi technology compete with Common Education Data Standards(CEDS)?

No. From the beginning, Ed-Fi technology was based on CEDS. It continues to take CEDS as the primary source for definitions of common elements, and the Ed-Fi Alliance team actively participates in CEDS stakeholder and technical working groups.

How does the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) initiative affect Ed-Fi technology?

The National Center for Education Statistics’ CEDS initiative is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Education and other federal agencies, State Education Agencies (SEAs), Local Education Agencies (LEAs), private foundations, and vendors to create a common vocabulary for education data, thereby streamlining data exchange and facilitating comparison across institutions and sectors. The Ed-Fi Alliance has participated in CEDS from the beginning and actively supports improvements to each CEDS release. The Ed-Fi Data Standard uses CEDS as a reference model and aligns to it wherever possible. Specifically, the Ed-Fi Data Standard v2.0 is aligned to CEDS 5.0. In addition, Ed-Fi Alliance representatives participate in CEDS stakeholder and technical working groups to ensure that needs identified by the field and real-world implementations are incorporated into future versions of CEDS.

Governance, Versioning, Releases, and Roadmap

How can Ed-Fi technology’s functionality be modified?

Ed-Fi technology functionality can be easily extended by implementers to suit the specific needs of a state or district. The Ed-Fi Alliance transparently manages enhancements and changes to the technology and provides a variety of ways for interested parties to participate, including a website feedback form, and a Request for Comment period preceding each new version release.

How can I comment on the Ed-Fi technology?

The Ed-Fi Alliance transparently manages enhancements and changes to the technology, and provides a variety of ways for interested parties to participate, including a website feedback form and a Request for Comment period preceding each new version release.

Recommended changes and issues are captured, tracked, and made visible in a GitHub repository. The repository is available to Ed-Fi technology licensees and exists in order to foster transparent dialogue about improvements generated during field implementations. In coordination with the Ed-Fi Alliance Advisory Council, the Ed-Fi Alliance reviews and prioritizes relevant suggestions and submissions for incorporation into future releases.

To view, respond to, and participate in ongoing Ed-Fi improvement discussions, please visit the Ed-Fi Tech Docs RFC site.

Will Ed-Fi technology continue to be versioned?

Yes. Ed-Fi technology evolves over time as new elements are added to the data model in response to field-identified needs. These changes will be versioned to ensure that any entity that implements Ed-Fi technology can verify which version is in use. Timing of release cycles and the version conventions for future releases are determined by the Ed-Fi Alliance.

Who governs Ed-Fi technology?

The Ed-Fi Alliance governs Ed-Fi technology with direction from the Ed-Fi Alliance Advisory Council, which is composed of representatives from state and local education agencies that are implementing Ed-Fi technology. Ed-Fi Alliance Advisory Council representatives are primarily technology-focused professionals, many of whom are responsible for field implementations of large-scale educational data systems.


Has Ed-Fi technology been implemented nationwide?

Since launching in July 2011, Ed-Fi technology has gained significant momentum in K–12 education among state education agencies, school districts, and vendors. As of February 2014[6] , 19 states have licensed or are in discussions to license Ed-Fi technology. Collectively, these 19 states represent 40% of K–12 students and teachers across the United States, all poised to benefit from Ed-Fi technology.

How does a student information system (SIS) map to the Ed-Fi Data Standard?

The Ed-Fi Data Standard specifies an XML file format (an XSD file) for several common data interchange scenarios. To map to a SIS (which typically contains data such as student contact information, grades, attendance, and class schedules), the Ed-Fi Data Standard represents the information in the SIS as a data interchange.

A SIS system that “adopted” the Ed-Fi standard would provide a feature to import and/or export one or more of the data interchanges. For instance, an Ed-Fi standard-compliant SIS system would enable simple, interface-based commands such as “export to Ed-Fi Standard Interchange Schema format”, as opposed to what is commonly done today, which is to create a custom extraction for every particular exchange.

How will the Ed-Fi Alliance support systems integrators?

One of the Alliance’s goals in developing Ed-Fi technology was to address integrators’ needs. We have worked to do that by building Ed-Fi technology on proven, familiar tools such as XML, and by providing robust online documentation. Beyond that, it is the Alliance’s intention to establish and nurture a vendor community with systems integrators as key stakeholders. Vendors can find out how to participate in ongoing Ed-Fi technology improvement discussions by visiting the Ed-Fi technical community portal.

How can licensees and vendors contribute to Ed-Fi technology?

There are multiple ways to contribute. The primary ones include:

  • Recommendations for and comments on changes to the Ed-Fi Data Standard. These changes require active engagement from the community, as changing the Data Standard will have an impact on others’ implementations.
  • Contributions to the Ed-Fi Exchange. The Ed-Fi Exchange is a technology hub to distribute code and other technical contributions. Information about the Exchange, including contact information, can be found on the How it Works section of the Exchange website.

Generally speaking, Ed-Fi technology licensees have access to technology in a variety of GitHub repositories. In addition, all interested parties can view, respond to, and participate in ongoing Ed-Fi technology improvement discussions in the Ed-Fi Tracker / JIRA system.

Will implementation work performed by vendors be sharable with others?

Yes, if the vendor wishes. The Ed-Fi Alliance will facilitate the sharing of work as long as it meets the goals of the Ed-Fi Alliance Advisory Council and has applicability to a wide range of needs.

Permission from the vendor will always be obtained prior to any sharing.

What is involved in implementing the Ed-Fi Data Standard for a custom data integration project?

For custom data projects (e.g., most data warehouse and data integration projects), implementation would involve using the Ed-Fi data exchange framework for data transfers between systems. Ed-Fi technology defines several XML-based standard data transfer schema (e.g., student attendance, student enrollment, assessment results, etc.) and also provides an extension framework for customizing the existing schema to meet specific needs.

What is involved in a product vendor implementation of the Ed-Fi Data Standard?

For a vendor with an existing product, a data standard implementation may be as simple as exporting data to one or more of the Ed-Fi data interchange schema. For example, in order to feed data to a centralized data system, a student information system (SIS), a vendor might output data using an Ed-Fi format, such as the Ed-Fi student enrollment, student attendance, and student grade data interchanges.

Standards Compliance

Why is it important to maintain compliance with the Ed-Fi Data Standard?

Ed-Fi technology is intended to be implemented by U.S states and districts. Adopting the standard and maintaining compliance is critical. First, because it will ensure reporting continuity, data integrity, and compliance with requirements across district, state, and federal levels. Second, compliance allows states and districts to facilitate the appropriate transfer of student information as they transition from PreK to K–12 and from K–12 to postsecondary systems and into the workforce. Adoption and maintenance of the standard also facilitates the transfer of authorized transcript information across state lines when students move so that teachers have the information they need to address new student needs from day one in a new class or school.