Chronic Absenteeism Setup Guide

Use this Setup Guide to install and configure your Chronic Absenteeism solution using test data. At the end of this Setup Guide you'll have a test environment which closely mimics a staging or production environment. This test environment allows your tech team, administrators, and stakeholders to test configuration changes being considered for the production environment without an impact on end-users. It is important to note that this test environment is separate and distinct from the sample environment you accessed during the Quick Start.

It is important to note that this Setup Guide assumes that you have access to a certified Student Information System (SIS), which provides the data to power the dashboard.

The following steps to get this test environment up and running are very similar to the steps for setting up a production or staging environment.


More information

This Setup Guide builds on core skills and concepts in the Chronic Absenteeism Quick Start. We recommend running that Quick Start before moving on to this more detailed Setup Guide.

Link: /wiki/spaces/SK/pages/22018859

Solution Overview

In this section you'll get a general understanding of the components of your Chronic Absenteeism solution to provide context for completing the remainder of the Setup Guide. The diagram below depicts the high level architecture and component interactions.

Once you complete this Setup Guide:

  • Data from your Student Information System "SIS" will flow into your Operational Data Store (ODS) via the Ed-Fi ODS / API.
  • Credentials and connections between your SIS and the ODS / API will be managed using the Ed-Fi ODS / API Admin App.
  • The Chronic Absenteeism Power BI Starter Kit connects directly to the Ed-Fi ODS database and the Analytics Middle Tier to retrieve the data and use it to generate your Chronic Absenteeism Dashboard and Reports.

The core components involved in this solution are:

  • A Student Information System (SIS).
  • The Ed-Fi ODS / API & Tools, which include Ed-Fi ODS / API, Ed-Fi Admin App, and the Ed-Fi Swagger Documentation. 
  • The Ed-Fi Analytics Middle Tier.
  • Power BI Desktop, the application chosen to model, create, and deliver the Chronic Absenteeism Dashboards.
  • Power BI Online, which allows you to publish the dashboard and manage the different users and roles.

The rest of this guide will instruct you on:

  • Installing these components.
  • Connecting your SIS to the Ed-Fi ODS via the ODS / API.
  • Connecting the Chronic Absenteeism Starter Kit application to your ODS.
  • Using the Chronic Absenteeism Starter Kit to engage and support your staff, superintendent, principals, and teachers with your data.

Important data security notes:

  • As with all handling of student data, you will need to adhere to your organization's data security guidelines.
  • The instructions in this Setup Guide assume you are connecting a live SIS to the ODS / API for testing purposes.
  • If you have a SIS instance with test data, we recommend you use that for this walkthrough.
  • If you only have access to production data (i.e., live data about students), you'll want to ensure the platform is as secure as your production environment. Consult your organization's IT or security resources for specific guidance.

Step 1. Install the Ed-Fi Solution

In this step, you will install the components of the Ed-Fi solution needed for the starter kit. These components are:

  • ODS / API for Suite 3 v5.3
  • Admin App for Suite 3 v2.3.1
  • Analytics Middle Tier (latest version)

Basic Infrastructure and Prerequisites

The list of infrastructure items you need to be successful is provided below. 

  • Database Server (Windows Server 2016-2019) with the following components installed:
    • PowerShell 5.0. 

    • .NET Core 3.1 Runtime. 

    • Microsoft SQL Server 2016 or 2017 Standard (or higher)

  • Web Server (Windows Server 2016-2019) with the following components installed:
    • .NET Core 3.1 Hosting Bundle. The .NET Core 3.1 Hosting Bundle is required for running the API on IIS.

    • Internet Information Services (IIS). IIS is the web server that will run the ODS / API.

For more details on setting up required components and software, refer to Getting Started - Binary Installation information for the ODS / API platform. It is always recommended to follow your institution's best practices for maintenance and backups.

The install process in the next section will automatically configure all required components of IIS.

Install Ed-Fi Solution Components

  • Install the ODS / API for Suite 3 v5.3 by following the instructions for installing the ODS / API in Shared Instance mode here. These instructions will also install the Admin App. 
  • Install the latest version of Analytics Middle Tier by following the AMT Deployment Guide.

Time to complete

Installing the Ed-Fi Solution usually takes a few hours to a day, assuming you have access to the hardware and software prerequisites, and are comfortable working with Windows Server, IIS, and SQL Server.

The time to configure and coordinate data flowing from a certified SIS system typically takes anywhere from a couple of hours to a week or two of calendar time, depending on the type of SIS.

Step 2. Configure your SIS and Load Test Data

In this step, you will load test data from your SIS to the Ed-Fi ODS / API for it to be available on the Chronic Absenteeism Power BI Dashboard. This step requires you to have access to a certified Student Information System (SIS) capable of sending data to the Ed-Fi ODS / API. 

Add Your Student Information System in the Admin App

Once you have successfully installed the Admin App following the instructions provided above, you can continue to configure and add your "SIS" so that it can consume and write student data to the Ed-Fi ODS / API.

  • Follow the Admin App - Next Steps to configure your first Vendor and Application entry for your Student Information System. 
  • Once you create an Application in the Admin App, you will store and use the generated "Key" and "Secret" in the next section.
    • Note: Treat the Key and Secret as secure information for your organization (because it will control student data exchange from your SIS).
    • Store it according to your local IT Security policy. Often this will be in a password keeper app, on a secure file server, or a similar method. 
  • Note that you may add other applications over time. For example, Assessment applications used in other Ed-Fi Starter Kits will each have their own API Client credentials ("Key" and "Secret").

Configure Your Student Information System

Each SIS provider has its own vendor-specific configuration tool as well as steps to connect to the Ed-Fi ODS / API, perform basic data mapping, provide descriptors, and enable you to begin loading data into your ODS / API. You will connect your SIS to your ODS / API using the URL, Key and Secret you generated in the Admin App. 

  • Verify that your SIS supports Ed-Fi data interoperability, and is certified to use the ODS / API to allow you to use the Chronic Absenteeism Starter Kit: Registry of Ed-Fi Certified Products - Student Information Systems
    • Note: If your SIS is not listed as Ed-Fi certified, use the vendor request form provided to the right. Ed-Fi can help you convey your data requirements to your vendor.
  • Verify that your district's SIS version is Ed-Fi certified.
  • If you are not running the current certified version of your SIS (or newer), update/upgrade to the certified version of your SIS.
  • Submit a technical support ticket to your SIS vendor requesting them to enable the Ed-Fi API client functionality for your district, as well as to provide a product configuration guide. 
  • Follow your SIS vendor's configuration guide for instructions on how to connect to your ODS / API and load your data.

See the General Reference page for a list of publicly known vendor configuration guides.

Map Your District Codes to the Ed-Fi ODS / API Descriptors

  • Once your SIS is configured to connect with the Ed-Fi ODS / API, the next step is to map "code sets" (or descriptors, as they are known in the Ed-Fi data standard) from the data elements and codes used in your district's SIS to those you will use in the Ed-Fi ODS / API. To do this: 
    • Refer to the SIS vendor configuration guide you used earlier in order to locate and use the data mapping tools in your SIS application.
    • Proceed with your SIS vendor's data mapping instructions, referring to their configuration guide and the dependency chart provided above to work through the data mapping and loading in the right sequence.
  • In the next step, you will use these descriptors to understand how your data is displayed in the Chronic Absenteeism Dashboard.
  • Refer to the Best Practices for Descriptors presentation for more information on how descriptors may be relevant to your use case. 

Let the Data Flow From Your SIS Into the Ed-Fi ODS / API

Quick recap:

  • Using the Ed-Fi Admin App, you configured your SIS to be able to access the Ed-Fi ODS / API.
  • Using the SIS configuration screen for Ed-Fi interoperability, you added the Ed-Fi ODS / API URL, Key and Secret so that it could connect to the API.
  • Using the SIS configuration screen for codes and descriptors, you mapped your District's codes to the Ed-Fi Standard Descriptors.

Now you are ready to let the data flow into Ed-Fi. Contact your SIS vendor support team to launch the necessary processes to let the data flow into the Ed-Fi ODS / API. 

Note: It is always a good idea to collaborate with your SIS vendor support team so that both of you can monitor any issues preventing data flow from the SIS to the API. Most common issues include network connectivity and data quality.

If you run into any issues that require troubleshooting guidance, please do not hesitate to contact your Ed-Fi Alliance representative via one of the support channels provided in the /wiki/spaces/SK/pages/21992742.

More Information

If your SIS vendor is not Ed-Fi certified use the Vendor Request Form and we can help you make the ask of your vendor to support data interoperability and certify their product.

Link: Ed-Fi Vendor Request Form

Need help?

Having difficulty configuring your SIS or mapping SIS codes? Reach out to an Ed-Fi Alliance representative for assistance. 

Deep dive

For detailed information on the data requirements to be able to power the Chronic Absenteeism Dashboard, see the data loading requirements linked below.

Link: Chronic Absenteeism Data Requirements

Step 3. Install and Test the Chronic Absenteeism Dashboard

In this step, you'll install Power BI prerequisites, as well as download and run the Chronic Absenteeism Dashboards. 


  • At this point, you should have an operational Ed-Fi ODS / API with data flowing from your SIS.
  • Additionally, you should have installed the AMT views on your ODS database.
  • You will also need a machine that has access to the ODS database and has Power BI Desktop installed.

Install Power BI Desktop

The Chronic Absenteeism Dashboard was built with Microsoft's Power BI Desktop application.

To run the dashboard you will need a machine with:

Download and Configure the Chronic Absenteeism Dashboard

The latest version of the Chronic Absenteeism Power BI Dashboard file is located in a GitHub repository.

Use the machine that has Power BI and create the following folder structure: C:\Ed-Fi\QuickStarts\CHRAB\.

Save this file onto that location by clicking this link:

Once the download completes, navigate to the folder where you downloaded the file and double-click it. This should open Power BI and load the Chronic Absenteeism Dashboard as depicted below:

The data that is pre-populated is the sample "Grand Bend ISD" populated template.

To connect to your Ed-Fi ODS, use the top menu and navigate to Home and then Transform Data. Click the dropdown arrow and select "Data source settings".

When the modal opens click on the "Change Source..." button.

A second modal will popup with inputs to configure your SQL Server server connection. Use the IP address or the hostname of the server that contains the database. Then input the name of your Ed-Fi ODS database. Usually the name of your database will be Ed-Fi_ODS.

Depending on your organization's security configuration, you may use integrated or SQL server security. 

Once you click ‘OK’, you will see SQL statements. Click ‘OK or ‘Run’

Additionally, it might show you the following screen:

This is where you can switch from Windows Integrated Security to MsSQL security if you desire.

Proceed to click on connect and accept the defaults.

You will see a screen that will load data from your ODS like the one below. Note that it might take a minute or two to finish loading. This depends on the amount of data and students you have in your Ed-Fi ODS.

Once it loads, the Chronic Absenteeism Dashboard will display your data.

If you haven't already, visit the Chronic Absenteeism Dashboard Walkthrough to learn more about how to use the Chronic Absenteeism Dashboard.

Step 4. Publish the Chronic Absenteeism Dashboard and Plan Your Rollout

The goal of this step is to publish the Chronic Absenteeism Dashboards to the Power BI Online service in a release targeted to your internal test users, thereby allowing them to login, view, use, and test the data visualizations. At the end of this step, you will be in a position to plan your rollout and deployment to your end users. 

Basic Power BI Online Setup 

We will guide you through some of the basics around Power BI Online.

For this dashboard to work you will need:

  • A subscription to Power BI Online
  • A few users created in Office 365 
  • A Workspace to be able to publish the dashboard

Creating Users in Power BI Online

If you already have users created in your Power BI account you can skip to the next section.

To create users follow these simple steps:

  • Login to Power BI Online
  • Click on the menu on the top left of the screen and select  as depicted below.

  • This will open the 365 admin center. From here click on  button indicated on the image below.

  • This will open a modal window that will allow you to add a user. Follow the instruction on that modal to create a user.
  • It is important to note that the user's email address in Power BI should be the same as the ones in you SIS and in the Ed-Fi ODS. This is how we match the user that is logged in with a role in the Ed-Fi ODS.
  • You can repeat this process to add all the users that will be accessing the Chronic Absenteeism Dashboard on Power BI

Creating a Workspace to Hold the Dashboard

Back on the main screen of Power BI Online, click on the menu icon and then on the "Workspaces" subsection, which expands a side modal.  At the bottom, click on the "Create a workspace" button to toggle a slide-out form on the right. This slide out form allows you to create and name the workspace. For this demo we named it "Ed-Fi Demonstration Workspace".

At this point you are done with this step.

Publishing the Dashboard

Open Power BI Desktop and Sign in with the account that has access to publish to Power BI online.

Proceed to locate and click on the "Home → Publish" menu entry as depicted below.

This will open a modal popup window. Select the workspace you created in the section above and click on the "Select" button.

In a few seconds you will see the modal popup indicating that it is publishing. When complete you will see a "Success!" message.

To confirm, we recommend that you login to Power BI Online and ensure you can see the Dashboard.

To do this, open your favorite browser and navigate to and login.

Click on your workspace and you should see the "ChronicAbsenteeismDashboard" in the list.

Enabling Security on the Report

The report comes configured with a "Dynamic Security Role". To enable it in Power BI Online, follow these steps:

Open your browser and navigate to Power BI Online. Then proceed to open the workspace where you published the "Chronic Absenteeism Dashboard" report. Ensure that the "All" submenu has been selected, and click on the context menu for the row showing the "Dataset". In the context menu select the security option.

In the Row-Level Security page, ensure you click the "Dynamic Role."  Then add either a role or an individual user who will be able to view the report.

Click on the "Save" button once you are done adding groups or users to the members section .

To test the security, hover over the "Dynamic Role" and click on the context menu then select "Test as role"

This will load the report and you should see the widgets show blank data as the user you are using will most likely not be part of the security.

On the top blue menu, click on "Now viewing as: Dynamic Role" and enter the email of a previously configured user. In this case, we are going to use David Wilson who is a District Superintendent for Grand Bend ISD. This is our sample data set. Upon selecting the user, the report will show data that is specific to that user profile. 


Explore by impersonating other users.

Here is a screenshot impersonating "Alicia Cameron" who is a principal at "Grand Bend Highschool"

As you can see, this user's widget numbers are reduced as she can only see students associated at the Highschool level.

When an actual user logs in, the data will be filtered specifically to that user’s profile.

Inviting/Sharing the Workspace With Users

There are a few ways you can allow users to see the dashboard you previously published to Power BI Online. The easiest is to grant permissions to individual users or groups. Here are the steps you need to follow to grant users access:

In Power BI Online, navigate to Workspaces and select the workspace you created previously. Make sure that you select "All" in the working panel submenu. This way you will see the "Report" and the "Dataset" listed in the grid.

Hover on top of the "Report" and a share icon will appear. Clicking on it will show a right slide out form. In this form you can search for users by name or email and share the report with them.

Please note that there are a few checkboxes that give you additional options. Review them carefully as they allow for additional sharing and editing options. 

Continue adding users by searching for them by name or email.

Once done, click on the "Share" button.

In a few seconds you will see a confirmation modal mentioning that the report has been shared successfully!

Additional Recommended Reading and Live Dataset Connectivity

We recommend reading the following articles. They explain how to setup a live database connection from Power BI Online to your Ed-Fi ODS SQL Server database.

Success! You are Ready to Plan Your Rollout and Production Deployment With Your Team.

At this point you have completed all the steps required to launch your "Chronic Absenteeism Dashboard" with your organization. You are now in a position to:

  • Verify functionality and support from key systems
  • Explore the dashboard (follow the use cases and guide described in: Chronic Absenteeism Dashboard Walkthrough to help you and your users)
  • Understand what resources and technical skills you need to support it
  • Test this solution with your key audiences in a pilot (Note: it is recommended to have a small pilot group so that they help by looking at data and provide feedback on the displayed metrics)
  • Plan and conduct a production rollout of your solution


Regarding identity mapping, it is important to note that a user's email address in Power BI Online should match the email in your SIS and in the Ed-Fi ODS. This is how the Dashboard matches the user that is logged in to a role in the Ed-Fi ODS.