Ed-Fi Alliance to train K-12 teachers in data management

The role of technology in K-12 public schools has continued to grow since last year’s COVID-19 school closings pushed them to embrace digital learning. As some teachers have taken a new approach to teaching with digital platforms designed to improve lessons and measure student performance, schools have started adopting new data management systems to help identify gaps in achievement. students who have grown during the pandemic.

Taking note of these trends, the non-profit educational association Ed-Fi Alliance has launched its new Ed-Fi Academy, a professional development initiative to train K-12 educators and staff on the ins and outs of data management and data literacy. According to a Press release, the program offers’ on-demand online training courses designed to meet users where they are in their data standard implementation journey with in-depth guidance, regardless of their skill level or background. ‘data experience’.

Silvia Brunet-Jones, technical program director for K-12 technology at Ed-Fi, said the program will teach participants how to implement and use the Ed-Fi data standard, which reformats information through a store of operational data and an API system to make it more readable and interoperable with other systems.

The Academy’s curriculum is specially designed for K-12 professionals and educators of any level of technical expertise, covering adoption and deployment of the Ed-Fi data standard and guiding users. through the entire process of adopting a data standard to arrive at a seamless integration system, ”said Brunet-Jones.

According to Brunet-Jones, the need for data interoperability remains a major concern for school systems across the United States by measuring their specific funding needs, student grades and attendance, among other measures. She said schools can use this data to assess student performance and attendance, which can inform new school support programs. The data can also be used to determine what students need, such as devices and the internet, to facilitate digital learning.

Brunet-Jones said the academy’s goal is to enable schools to standardize their data systems so that they can “speak the same language,” which will streamline an often cumbersome process of collecting and storing data. students.

“The goal is to help people understand these concepts and then apply them. We have seen that schools want to offer [training for] this type of skill, but there is a lack of focus on how to train these people, ”she said, noting plans to introduce intermediate and expert level topics into the current introductory courses of ‘Ed-Fi next year for an in-depth focus on data system implementation.

Brunet-Jones said other industries and sectors are already running on interoperable data to guide their work, unlike many U.S. public school systems.

“In K-12 today, that’s not the case. When the kids go to the registrar’s office or the counselor starts taking the courses they want to take, it could actually be in a whole different system. The attendance and course system may not integrate seamlessly. You may need to download [new] spreadsheets or uploading data to different formats, ”she said. “The same thing happens with assessment data. This data is isolated, so a teacher must download and manipulate spreadsheets to get a good idea of ​​where their students are. It’s not their primary skill, so it really uses up a lot of their time and problem-solving ability.

Brunet-Jones said education officials, from the federal to the local level, are increasingly looking to address data interoperability and related challenges.

Wisconsin this year announced plans to standardize its migrant student data system to determine eligibility for Wisconsin’s migrant education program starting next year, according to the state’s Department of Education website. Nebraska too announcement similar plans this year to modernize and standardize assessment and attendance data, which will help it match American Rescue Plan Act K-12 funding with specific school needs.

At the local level, schools like Intrinsic Schools in Chicago recently adopted the Ed-Fi framework and hired an “analytical engineer” – a new position created to manage and analyze school data used for “action plans” and improve student performance.

“State agencies are starting to think of their role as more to provide services to districts rather than just forcing data to be released for accountability,” Brunet-Jones said. “They’re starting to change the way they think about what they should be doing [with data]. “

As of this week, Brunet-Jones said 100 school staff and IT staff have signed up to enroll in the Ed-Fi Academy, of which about 25 have completed their introductory courses.

Brandon Paykamian is a writer for Government Technology. He has a BA in Journalism from East Tennessee State University and years of experience as a multimedia reporter, focusing primarily on public and higher education.

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