Technology report: Ed-Fi, the student info data base

14 May

Julia Lawrence of Education News is reporting on the growing acceptance of Ed-Fi in the article, Ed-Fi Signs Up More States, Teachers and Companies:

Collecting data on students in order to closely tailor the classroom experience to student strengths got easier last year with roll-out of Ed-Fi™ Tool Suite, a free software solution to help educators conduct useful analysis in a timely manner. Since its launch in July 2011, Ed-Fi™ has been used by schools and districts in 8 states, with 4 more taking advantage of the software’s functionality through the Shared Learning Collaborative. Nearly one in three teachers and as many students are now making use of this technology nationwide.

The software was designed to comply with the Common Education Data Standards which allows seamless transfer of knowledge between schools, school districts and the states. Companies who have licensed the software in order to integrate it in their own education-targeted products include e-Scholar, Curriculum Associates and Wireless Generation, among others.

The stated goal is to make student data more accessible and user-friendly for educators. A significant part of the push for more data has to with the introduction of Common Core Standards. See, Will ‘Common Core Standards’ increase education achievement?

According to the Ed-Fi site, Ed-Fi is a product of the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation:

Developed for the K-12 sector, Ed-Fi is open, XML-based, and CEDS-aligned to integrate information from a broad range of existing sources so it can be sifted, analyzed and put to use every day.

Ed-Fi enables educators to:

  • Easily access current, accurate classroom and student-level data
  • Develop more effective, progress-based lesson plans
  • Strengthen student academic growth and achievement
  • Conduct more objective, fact-based parent-teacher dialogues
  • Integrate data from existing systems such as student information systems (SIS), grade book applications, curriculum planning systems, and benchmark testing and reporting systems

Ed-Fi enables districts and agencies to:

  • Access consistent, comparable performance data across districts, schools and states
  • Continuously monitor, assess and improve program effectiveness
  • Manage evolving compliance-reporting requirements
  • Integrate with existing infrastructures
  • Ensure system interoperability
  • Accommodate future technological developments

Ed-Fi enables vendors to:

  • Develop reusable products for multiple districts, states and other vendors
  • Align to existing national standards
  • Address shifting requirements without major code overhauls
  • Streamline and systematize complex integration processes
  • Develop productized solutions for use among multiple districts, states and vendors
  • Focus on innovations that address emerging needs and open new markets

Available free of charge, Ed-Fi licenses provide school districts, state education agencies and vendors with access to all Ed-Fi components.

About Ed-Fi and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation was established in 1999 to help improve the lives of children in need around the world. The Ed-Fi initiative supports the goal of ensuring that all children have access to quality education in public schools, one of the foundation’s key objectives.

Designed to function as a national data standard, Ed-Fi was developed based on input from vendors as well as state and local education agencies. The Ed-Fi data standard is governed by foundation representatives working in collaboration with an advisory council of education agency representatives from states that opt to implement the standard. The Ed-Fi standard is vendor-neutral and does not require any specific vendor’s hardware, software or protocols.

Here are some frequently asked questions about Ed-Fi:

General (11)

Here is a portion of the press release from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation:

AUSTIN, Texas, May 8, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Since launching in July 2011, the Ed-Fi Tool Suite, including the data standard and dashboards, has gained significant momentum in K-12 education among state education agencies, school districts and vendors.  Eight states have licensed or are in discussions to license the Ed-Fi Tool Suite, and an additional four states will benefit from Ed-Fi-enabled tools through the Shared Learning Collaborative. This represents 34% of K-12 students and 36% of teachers across the United States. 

Ed-Fi is the only free, flexible and complete ed-tech solution to empower educators with relevant, timely, student-centric information that enables better data collection and reporting to improve decision making, facilitate targeted action plans and drive higher student outcomes. The Ed-Fi data standard aligns with Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) and facilitates secure data exchange among disparate data systems in the K-12 education sector. The Ed-Fi data standard enables interoperability among education systems that states and districts have already implemented, and enables organizations to build on prior investments in existing IT systems and processes. Most importantly, it puts the transformative power of information in the hands of teachers and other educators when and where they need it most: their classrooms.

Arizona, Kansas and New Mexico join Colorado, Delaware, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texasin using Ed-Fi to power their ongoing efforts to ensure that educators have the information and insight they need to understand the individual needs of every student and be equipped to respond.

Vendors including e-Scholar, Curriculum Associates, SunGard and Wireless Generation have also licensed Ed-Fi. Further, the Shared Learning Collaborative (SLC) has chosen Ed-Fi to power its scalable shared technology services, which aim to accelerate progress toward personalized learning for every K-12 student in the United States.  The SLC will help existing and future instructional technology investments in states, districts and schools work better together, and will extend the reach and potential of Ed-Fi to additional states including Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and North Carolina….

Ed-Fi does not replace existing education data or information systems, nor does it supplant existing data standards; it enables them to work together to give educators nationwide what they need: holistic portraits of students that are detailed, easy to understand and up-to-date at any given moment. Moreover, Ed-Fi addresses a long-standing challenge to meaningful systemic improvement in schools nationwide: The multiple and often non-interoperable information and education data systems used by schools, districts and states.

“Ed-Fi fills the persistent need in the education sector to harness the power of data already collected in school districts and states,” said Fey.


“Joining Ed-Fi and uniting behind a common data standard is an important step forward for Arizona’s education community to provide powerful student-level data to educators,” said Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal. “Arizona is undergoing transformative education reform, and improving the quality of education through sound data-driven decision making is a key part of that change. I applaud the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation for offering such a robust education technology solution, at no cost, to the Arizona Department of Education.”

“Colorado has consolidated 19 primary data collections, and we now have eight. We were able to do this by taking a student-based approach to data as compared to the old way of approaching data based on programs.  Ed-Fi wholly supports this enterprise view of data.  By streamlining the flow of information and eliminating redundant data requests, Colorado can reduce the data administration burden for schools while shifting resources towards using data to enhance performance,” said Robert Hammond, Commissioner of Education, Colorado.

“Use of the Ed-Fi standard allowed us to significantly accelerate the development life cycle for our Education Insight warehouse and dashboard projects, enabling us to move from analysis to production in just 12 months. Ed-Fi provided a compass that guided the transformation of data from a variety of disparate data sources into meaningful real-time metrics for classroom decision-making, while allowing us to customize the teacher dashboard to the specific needs of Delaware educators,” said Reese Robinson, Education Insight Project Manager, Delaware Department of Education….

About Ed-Fi

Ed-Fi is a universal educational data standard and tool suite that enables vital academic information on K-12 students to be consolidated from the different data systems of school districts throughout the United States. Ed-Fi acts as a universal translator of academic data, integrating and organizing information so that educators can start addressing the individual needs of each student from day one, and can measure progress and refine action plans throughout the school year.

Developed through funding from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, Ed-Fi licenses provide school districts, state education agencies and vendors with unrestricted access to all Ed-Fi components free of charge. For more information, visit The Ed-Fi initiative supports the goal of ensuring that all children have access to quality education in public schools, one of the foundation’s key objectives.

Schools also have to be concerned with student privacy rights.

Kelly Field reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education article, New Rules Would Allow for A Broader Sharing of Student Records

The Department of Education will release new rules today that will make it easier for states to develop data systems to track students’ academic progress and evaluate education programs.

The proposed new rules would allow high-school administrators and state officials to share student-level data with researchers, auditors, and other agencies without violating the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, or Ferpa.

The changes are being welcomed by education reformers but criticized by privacy advocates, who fear they could undermine longstanding student protections. Under Ferpa, colleges must generally obtain a student’s consent to release data from an education record.

In an effort to strike a balance between privacy and accountability, the department has hired a chief privacy officer and created a technical-assistance center to advise states, schools, and colleges on privacy and data security.

But critics of the rule say such efforts won’t do enough to protect students in the face of expanded data-sharing.

The U.S. Department of Education has a site about the Family Education Act and Privacy

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) Home

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

For additional information, you may call 1-800-USA-LEARN (1-800-872-5327) (voice). Individuals who use TDD may call 1-800-437-0833.

Or you may contact us at the following address:

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-8520

Although, the database may make accessing student information easier, student privacy concerns should also be addressed.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

One Response to “Technology report: Ed-Fi, the student info data base”


  1. What is “EDU STAR”: Harnessing Technology to Improve K-12 Education « drwilda - September 28, 2012

    […] Technology report: Ed-Fi, the student info data base                       […]

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