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.
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.
The Ed-Fi™ project was the brainchild of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. The Foundation has long maintained that common and widely-adopted data standards would go a long way to revolutionize the way schools do business and represent a big step in integrating technology into the classroom in an innovative and productive way.
Lori Fey, Director, Policy Initiatives, US Education at the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation said “We believe that improvement and innovation in the education sector are within reach, and that states, districts and vendors that move aggressively to standardize their data and systems will unlock the potential of both.”
One of the major selling points of the new system is its ability to work with data and standards already in place, without requiring the duplication of the work that went into collecting it. An organization looking to deploy Ed-Fi™ will be able to make use of information collected by the legacy systems. The difficulty of technological migrating, and its attendant expense, often keeps organizations dependent on systems that are wildly out of date, and lack the resources to handle more advanced types of problems. Ed-Fi™ solves this issue by both offering the needed functionality, being interoperable with systems already in place, and also by being scalable and, to some degree, future-proof.
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.