How 18 School Districts Are Working To Achieve Data Interoperability - Digital Promise

How 18 School Districts Are Working To Achieve Data Interoperability

November 9, 2018 | By

Eighteen district teams from the League of Innovative Schools recently gathered in Austin, Texas for a Data Interoperability Bootcamp. Their challenges and contexts are different, determined by factors within and outside of district control, but their aims are the same: putting actionable data in the hands of people who can use it to make a difference in students’ lives.

“I’m starting to realize we have the potential to create a movement across the nation for both districts and vendors to use and further develop tools that standardize the way data is shared,” said Jaraun Dennis, chief technology officer of Uinta County School District #1 and head of the League’s Data Interoperability Cohort. “I am excited to see what the League’s Cohort and Challenge Collaborative teams can produce during the next seven months in relationship to dashboards that start to inform teachers of each student in academics, attendance, behavior, and assessments.”

With the partnership of the Ed-Fi Alliance and support from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, technical and non-technical district leaders raised tough questions about procurement practices, talked about the priority of privacy and security, and even stood up functional Ed-Fi ODSs (Operational Data Stores) to begin experimenting with implementation. They also talked about powerful use cases such as: how deeply should systems be interoperable; how to triangulate specific needs of a target population; what information transportation data and food service data might reveal when aligned with academic data; and how teachers might shift instructional practices based on new insights revealed by aggregated assessment data. And, they began outlining the governance and technical work that will help them address the use cases.

The League’s Assessment Data Interoperability Challenge Collaborative—five districts that have been selected to specifically create prototypes of integrated assessment data to support instruction—self-assessed the maturity of their data interoperability systems through the CoSN Interoperability Model, and began designing individual district narratives to adopt standards and interoperability within their individual district contexts. Gurnee School District 56, San Diego Office of Education, Stephenville Independent School District, Uinta County School District #1, and Vancouver Public Schools are the core districts moving this work forward.

Through the end of the school year, these core districts will build capacity and infrastructure in their own systems to advance interoperability in assessment data and create prototypes to share across the League. Together, the group is building essential questions and solutions that address the problem: How can integrating assessment data across applications support teacher instruction and student learning?

The group discussed the challenge from the perspectives of teachers, building leaders, and district leaders with the goal of defining possible solutions by the creation of “heroes”—ideas for tools, know-how, programs that can address the challenge.

“If you make a ‘solution’ that’s really user-friendly but isn’t the hero of your user’s story, there’s really no point in designing it,” says Colin Angevine, project director of Challenge Collaboratives for the League of Innovative Schools.

The good news is the districts do not need fictional superheroes to solve the challenge, as they will demonstrate this coming spring with their prototypes.

We are also thankful for the commitment of Baltimore County Public Schools, Bristol Township School District, Brooklyn Lab Charter Schools, Charlottesville City Schools, Compton Unified School District, East Noble School Corporation, Graham Local Schools, Huntley Community School District, Indian Prairie School District, Iowa City Community School District, Iredell-Statesville Schools, Mentor Public Schools, and Rowan-Salisbury Schools for participating in the Bootcamp.

To keep up with the League’s work in advancing data interoperability, visit

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