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5 Things You Need to Do Before the Imminent Ed-Fi Deadline

by iSphere on August 31, 2021 in Blog, Education Sector Content

From an implementation standpoint, the 2023/2024 school year is a lot closer than you think. Identifying scope, developing project logistics, managing in-house staff and IT consultants, implementing changes, and evaluating for compliance takes months if not years to get right.

Unlike a late-night cram session, you can’t wait until the last second to pull off a passing grade. For those districts that are still procrastinating on contacting vendors or reaching out to participate in the pilot for the Ed-Fi Suite 3 ODS transition, it’s important to act now or risk violating the TEA mandate.

If you haven’t viewed our free webinar on the Ed-Fi Texas education data standards, there is a lot of information that you need to review to get up to speed on the requirements and challenges of the process. However, here is a cheat sheet with some common education data standard questions around the TEA transition to Ed-Fi Suite 3 data standards.

Why are we upgrading to Ed-Fi Suite 3 ODS?

The goal is to create greater data interoperability, allowing for a more seamless, secure, and controlled exchange of student data necessary for effective school district operations. The current Ed-Fi standard that the TEA is using is far more time-intensive and convoluted than Suite 3.

  • All of the batch loading of data that is required of your DBAs, Registrars, and Data Stewards will be delivered to the TEA in real-time by API-based automation that still allows for uploading management on your end.
  • Additionally, this new version of the Ed-Fi data standard will do away with all XML interchanges that have characterized the process.

Those using the Ed-Fi Operational Data Store (ODS), in addition to having a centralized and secure location to store information vital for state reporting, will be able to explore a variety of different use cases that are already serving districts in other states and some early adopters in Texas.

Which systems are most likely to be noncompliant as they stand?

This depends on which vendors your district currently engages. There are a number of vendors ranging from SIS platforms and learning management systems (LMS) to HR systems and finance systems that will need to update their APIs to align with the upgraded data standards. Down the road, as TEA and other districts explore more use cases, you might find that other systems will be impacted and will need to be made compliant.

However, one of the major steps you can take early in the process is to review your list of current systems that will feed into the Ed-Fi Operational Data Store (ODS) and verify that they are compatible with the forthcoming update to Ed-Fi Suite 3. If you want a timesaver, keep an eye out for vendors that have Ed-Fi Badges showcasing their support for Ed-Fi data standards and technologies.

What are common challenges for Ed-Fi implementation?

For those who were not around for the original Ed-Fi Suite 1 data standard implementation, there can be a few hiccups along the way – if you are not prepared. Our own experts have highlighted these as some of the most common issues that come down the pipeline:

  • Lack of buy-in from leadership – If anyone on the tech side or the administrative side of your district is not convinced of the value or urgency of the Ed-Fi update, then you’ll be more prone to delays that prevent you from working out any early challenges.
  • Non-compliant vendors – When your vendors have not collaborated with the Ed-Fi Alliance, taking advantage of their open source code, then they might resort to custom modifications for the data ingestion process. This can create data exchange features that are not interoperable or are not compliant with the common data standard.
  • Snags integrating with existing ecosystem – Larger districts or districts with a perplexing web of workflows might have issues integrating with the Ed-Fi ODS. In those instances, it will either require your internal staff to streamline the system or an outside expert in education technology solutions to ease your transition.

Does the size of my school district matter in the transition?

Since many smaller school districts are using their Regional Education Service Center (ESC) to manage and oversee their state reporting, much of the burden for the implementation falls outside of their jurisdiction. For those larger school districts that are managing their own state reporting or have implemented the Ed-Fi Suite 1 data standard, your district will likely be responsible for their own transition.

Additionally, larger districts often have more applications to integrate with the Ed-Fi ODS, requiring coordination with multiple vendors to update APIs. Since larger districts tend to have specialty or focused applications to handle specific data types (e.g. Transportation, Food Service, Certification Tracking, Special Education, LEP, CTE, etc.), your work will be cut out for you. In fact, it will probably require far more masterminding to ensure the completion of API updates and compatibility across each respective type of data during the pilot or parallel phases of the TEA timeline.

How often will system updates be needed to maintain ongoing Ed-Fi compliance?

TEA is committed to staying no more than one update behind, so you’ll have to keep up as often as the state updates the schema. However, CTOs will have the opportunity to work closely with their SIS vendor to ensure that the system is still compliant when the State updates the schema.

Want to take an easy first step toward compliance with this common education data standard? Complete your Ed-Fi Readiness Background form. Just contact iSphere and we can help you to simplify your transition to better data interoperability.

 

Start our Ed-Fi Readiness Background form

 

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