SIF Association

This blog is run by the staff of the SIF (Schools/Systems Interoperability Framework) Association for the use of it's members and the general educational community.

It is specifically designed for those who are interested in understanding what SIF is about, where the standard is going and how Schools, Districts and State Educational Authorities will benefit.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

There's "common" and then there's "common"...

You may or may not have been keeping up to speed on pushback in regards to the developing Common Core State Standards (CCSS). These high level academic content standards are designed to provide a framework of “…what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them”. I have intimate knowledge of all of the political pitfalls of developing learning standards during my tenure in Ohio – it can be frustrating and alienating stuff!
So why does a technical standards organizational lead need to write on a topic that does not directly impact the development of interoperable blueprints for information transport?  The rumblings against the “Common Core” have now bled over to generate misperceptions around the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS). Like the CCSS, the CEDS project has engaged a large number of early childhood, K12 and higher education, software companies and government agencies. Unlike the CCSS, CEDS is developing a dictionary of common data definitions already used by schools/states and not common learning outcomes. CEDS is a common vocabulary blueprint that people can use in building their local and state data systems – it collects nothing and reports nothing. It works better to have one agreed to and collaboratively developed dictionary – not 50!
So why this topic in a SIF blog?  CEDS does not standardize how the various data sources located within districts or states transfer their data. The SIF Implementation Specification (US) 3.0 defines a dynamic application-to-application data transfer framework, which is secure, robust, and fully CEDS-compatible – plus more! The SIF data model continues to address the needs not outlined in CEDS but needed locally like transportation, food service, library, HR, etc. It has been doing that successfully for 15 years! While enabling various needs in the states, the SIF community must also allow for local data model needs for our UK and AU communities where CEDS is not a driving force. 
Version 3.0 contains “buckets” to carry academic learning standards (i.e. CCSS, individual LEA or SEA standards, etc.) allowing for local control of what students know and should be able to do and yet leverages common definitions of what the data is in use at all levels. Sometimes “common” is not that common...

Larry Fruth
Executive Director/CEO
SIF Association

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