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State Education Agencies

Modernize Your IT Infrastructure

The first step in modernizing a state’s education IT infrastructure is enabling real-time data by automating collection processes.

State Education Data Collection is Time Consuming, Error-Prone, and Inefficient

States are tasked with the collection of information from districts that impact a myriad of programs; including accountability metrics, funding needs and district support. Often this critical information is sent to state agencies incomplete, in various formats, and with errors. Agencies spend hundreds of hours and precious resources to correct and manage the data before it can be reported on with any amount of confidence, let alone used to spot trends or solve important challenges.

Reduction of data burden

With Ed-Fi, Nebraska reduced the data burden on their district staff by 25%.

Annual Savings

Michigan saves $16.27 Million on district data submission annually.


The Ed-Fi API handles 30 million transactions a day in Wisconsin.

Kirsten Baesler

Superintendent of Public Instruction, North Dakota

"As a state agency, we must be about more than just compliance - we can harvest innovation and provide real services back to our districts to help them support better student outcomes. To do that, we need a modernized IT infrastructure that enables real-time connected data in our classrooms."

Dean Folkers

Chief Information Officer • Nebraska Department of Education

"Nebraska’s interoperability implementation plan reduced the financial and human capacity burden on districts while increasing the quality and timeliness of data with the opportunity to use data to support state learning goals."

Common Questions Before Getting Started

Take a look at the most common questions that we’ve received over the years to build your knowledge about Ed-Fi and get you started on the right foot.

  • What is a typical project timeline?

    There is no standard timeframe for an implementation because it can very based on the unique circumstances of every state. We recommend taking a small slice, use case, or collection first to ensure a quick win.  Because so many systems are reliant on state processes and there are calendar considerations to account for, typically states spend time on development cycles, pilots and testing to ensure data quality and fidelity of processes. However you choose to deploy,  you can be sure that Ed-Fi has been tested and proven in the field allowing you to chart a course that only gets better over time.

  • Who and what roles should be involved?

    A best practice is to have a senior leader act as a data champion for your Ed-Fi project. Engage your data governance process and bring together your data analysts and program leads, it’s also helpful to have one person as the designated Ed-Fi coordinator or project leader.

  • What are the best practices to coordinate with the vendors?

    Agencies are encouraged to ask their technology provider to be Ed-Fi certified; however, agencies should first understand their needs sufficiently to make this request.  As a community Ed-Fi includes a robust partner program with a number of active vendors. We offer certifications for Student Information Systems, Assessment vendors, and a range of badges to help you know that your vendors are capable of integrating with your Ed-Fi solution.

  • How should I involve my school districts?

    Establish a governance practice that involves your district participation, collaboration and team decision making.  Communicate with the district leadership early, consistently, deliver quick wins for your district users, deliver frequently and establish a solid process management and communication. 

  • How does Ed-Fi help me ensure data security and privacy?

    Ed-Fi was designed to capture the depth and breadth of student, staff, and contextual data (and much more) in a secure and manageable operational system. Data coming in through a secure API removes the necessity to send flat files, and secures data from being exposed to non-authorized personnel. Further, when you have a streamlined and modernized data architecture your agency can proactively ensure data privacy and security best practices.

  • What support do I get from the Alliance?

    The SEA strategic partnership team is here to provide the necessary help you need including onboarding you to Ed-Fi, providing training and offering ongoing technical support.  This offering is not a replacement to your technical staff or a system integrator.

How To Get Started With Ed-Fi to Modernize Your IT Infrastructure

For states, we know you have calendar and budget frameworks you must work within and oftentimes established IT partners that help you along the way. Whatever your agency's specific situation, you and other stakeholders on your team will need to have a full understanding of the best practices steps and pre-work to manage a successful Ed-Fi implementation. This starter kit is designed to ensure you have the tools you need to begin your SEA Modernization efforts. At the end of this Setup Guide you'll have a Pilot-ready environment in which you can begin to load Student Information System data into your Ed-Fi Operational Data Store.

Option 1

Do It Yourself

Step 1

Set Up the Virtual Machine

For the Quick Start Guide, download and set up a pre-packaged virtual machine that contains the Ed-Fi ODS/API with sample extension, sample data quality validation rules, plus sample membership and special education count reports. (If you can’t run a virtual machine in Amazon Web Services (AWS), Ed-Fi can help).

Step 2

Explore the Starter Kit

Here you’ll follow the steps to explore and learn about the virtual machine you installed that hosts your Ed-Fi tools and your sample membership and special education count reports including sample data, sample extensions, and sample data quality validation rules.

Step 3

Develop Data Specifications

To use the Ed-Fi Data Standard, states must re-express, in Ed-Fi language, the data specifications they provide to their technology providers and school districts. In this step, you will map your state specific data requirements to the elements in the Ed-Fi Data Model using either an excel spreadsheet or the Ed-Fi’s MappingEdu tool. 

Step 4

Develop Model Extensions (If Required)

During your mapping exercise you may find gaps between your state specific data needs and the Ed-Fi Data Model. This step will walk you through the use of Ed-Fi’s MetaEd tool to “extend” the data model to accommodate these missing entities.

Step 5

Install the Ed-Fi Solution

In this step of the Setup Guide, you will install all the components of the Ed-Fi solution using the recommended Binary Installation method. This will create a pilot-ready environment for you to connect with your district’s student information systems.

Step 6

Set Up API Security

In this step, you will configure the Admin App to create your first application and generate a Key and Secret for use in securely connecting to your district’s student information system(s).

Step 7

Load Agency Data

In this step you will load Agency or “Seed” data into your Ed-Fi ODS to prepare for the loading of student data from technology partners.

Step 8

Staging and Promotion to Pilot

You are now set up with a pilot-ready environment. In this step, you will review staging and pilot strategies for your newly created Ed-Fi SEA solution.

Step 9

Running Validations

Once you have kicked off your pilot and have data flowing into your new Ed-Fi ODS you are ready to analyze your LEA submissions for accuracy. In this final step, you will set-up the validation process for your Ed-Fi SEA solution.

Get the Starter Kit

Option 2

Work with Tech Vendors

Step 1

Education Technology Vendors

Vendors are an important part to bring the benefits of interoperability to your state. It is always a best practice to communicate early and often with all of your vendors that provide you with systems, like SIS and assessment vendors. Make sure these vendor-types are part of your planning process.

Step 2

System Integrators

While each state is different and has varying in-house resources and timelines, some states have had success by working with a system integrator that is familiar with Ed-Fi. In any instance, you will need to have a working understanding of the milestones and pre-work necessary for a successful implementation but a system integrator can help you along the way.
Contact us for a list of Systems Integrators that may be available to help you.

Step 3

Cloud Providers

You may have technical capabilities in-house to stand up your Ed-Fi implementation in the cloud. All of the major cloud hosting platforms have worked with the Ed-Fi technology tools that can help you get started fairly quickly. Including Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, and Inteport via Azure Marketplace.

Contact Ed-Fi

Option 3

Share with a Colleague

Want to start your Ed-Fi journey but need to get other teammates involved? Send them an email with a link to this page to share this important information with them and start building your data team.

Send Email

We’re here to help.

The Ed-Fi team is standing by. Reach out to us at anytime.

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Maureen Wentworth

Manager, Strategic Partnerships

Sayee Srinivasan

Solutions Architect, SEA