Overview and Rationale for Ed-Fi Use by States


Overview of Ed-Fi Standards and Technology

Ed-Fi standards allow data to move seamlessly across many domains—including assessment, enrollment, attendance, grades, demographics, etc.—which, in turn, empowers educators to improve student performance.

These standards are reflected principally as REST API specifications implemented by education agencies. This provides external systems a common API surface to build an integration around and removes the management of custom data formats.

The Ed-Fi Alliance is also an open-source software community. The principal software tool for this community is the Ed-Fi Operational Data Store (ODS) and API, a software platform that many education agencies use to exchange and publish across disparate organizations and systems.

Please note: The Data Standard and the technology that implements the standard are two separate things. Any system is welcome to implement the API specifications via different technologies.

Why Adopt the Ed-Fi Data Standard and Technology? 

Most state agencies are experiencing several of the problems outlined in the table below. By adopting the Ed-Fi Data Standard, states can eliminate these hurdles, streamline data collection processes, and add value back to school districts. Review the challenge descriptions below along with how Ed-Fi helps solve those challenges.

ChallengeChallenge DescriptionHow Ed-Fi Solves This Problem
Costly manual data collection Data collection in most state agencies today involves manual export and manipulation of CSV or spreadsheet files. This requires a huge amount of effort by both school district and state personnel. These "data extracts" do not result in fixes to data quality in source systems.Ed-Fi Operational Data Store and API communicates directly with student information systems (SIS) and other systems in LEAs and eliminates the need for manual data manipulations. Fixes to data quality must now occur directly in source systems, improving data quality for both the state and the school district.
Stale data = less useful dataData collection processes are slow, so slow that by the time the state gets the data in a usable form, weeks or months have passed, limiting the ability of the state to use the data to help improve education outcomes.Data flows in a timely manner and can be corrected by school districts as soon as the next day or even sooner. This makes reports more accurate and actionable. The state now also has the possibility of providing data services back to school districts.
Systems are complex and expensive to maintain and developStates are each developing their own data infrastructure, resulting in high costs.Most states share many – if not most – data processes. By using a common technology and data standard to collect data, states can leverage each other's investments in infrastructure and share tools and best practices across state lines.
Answering repeated asks for the same dataDistricts have dozens or sometimes hundreds of data requests for the state to fulfill. Often, these requests are for the same data over and over.Adoption of a data standard allows state departments to collaborate and agree on data fields, ensuring they're only collected once and can be easily referenced and shared with districts.
Agencies operate in silosState Agency department offices often run in silos, and this leads to poor collaboration and relationships across the offices.Adoption of Ed-Fi's Data Standard and technology encourages people to share business needs and technical requirements with each other, thus sparking collaboration, teamwork, and one shared technical solution.  

Legacy systems challenges

Supporting real-time analysis of data with legacy systems is difficult.

Having the data centralized in the Ed-Fi ODS allows for timely analysis and visualization for instructional improvement at the district and classroom level. Districts can integrate systems based on their unique needs.

Sample State Cases 

Below are materials from states on their projects, experiences and best practice recommendations.

Insight into WI's Ed-Fi Implementation & Lessons LearnedJohn Raub from WI DPI