AWS Government, Education, & Nonprofits Blog

Solving Educational Data Interoperability Challenges Using the Ed-Fi Data Standard

School districts and State Departments of Education are managing an increasing number of technology products and services that impact students and faculty. As state education agencies (SEAs) and local education agencies (LEAs) integrate more of these tools into their operations, the amount of student data being generated grows.

Because these systems remain largely disconnected from one another, SEAs and LEAs are unable to secure, store, analyze, and report on the data in a unified way. The Ed-Fi Alliance seeks to change that by providing a data standard that allows previously disconnected educational products to connect, and effectively help generate data insights to be used by teachers, superintendents, and state agencies.

AWS and Ed-Fi Take on Data Interoperability

AWS worked with the Ed-Fi Alliance to build an automated template that will help districts and states standardize, structure, and store their data using the Ed-Fi Data Standard and Operational Data Store (ODS) on AWS. Users can deploy the AWS CloudFormation template in minutes to launch a pre-configured infrastructure on AWS to support the Ed-Fi technology stack.

With this template, SEAs and LEAs no longer have to think about purchasing, maintaining, and upgrading on-premises servers with expensive upfront costs. With Ed-Fi on AWS, the infrastructure is deployed securely on AWS using pay-as-you-go pricing. Projects that previously took entire budget cycles and carried large financial risk can now be set up in minutes and taken down over summers and school breaks to minimize cost.

“We’re excited about the possibilities offered to districts and states that exist by running Ed-Fi on the AWS Cloud. The speed and cost savings that are natively available in AWS allow for more school systems to be far more agile with Ed-Fi, ultimately helping more students,” said Troy Wheeler, CEO of the Ed-Fi Alliance.

One early adopter of Ed-Fi on AWS is Tulsa Public Schools. They knew that they could do more with data and made the decision to work with Ed-Fi and AWS to develop a solution that turns their data into actionable insights to improve student outcomes.

About Tulsa Public Schools

Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) is the second largest school district in Oklahoma, serving approximately 40,000 students. The nearly 7,000 employees at Tulsa Public Schools include teachers delivering instruction at over 80 school sites, bus drivers traveling over 70,000 miles each week, custodial staff maintaining over 37 million square feet of facilities, child nutrition staff serving 130,000 meals each week, and an IT team supporting 50,375 devices. The mission of Tulsa Public Schools is to inspire and prepare every student to love learning, achieve ambitious goals, and make positive contributions to our world.

Tulsa applied for the City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge and, as a winner, received AWS Promotional Credits for their big idea on student data. They wanted to leverage the compliance data they were required to collect on dropout rates to predict and design interventions for at-risk students. They are using the AWS Promotional Credits to build a recommendation engine that measures the effectiveness of their interventions and looks for patterns and correlations using AWS Machine Learning. The engine will tailor and improve recommendations over time, based on previous outcomes all in the interest of improving student achievement.

A key piece of the puzzle for TPS was ensuring that all the various systems through which they collect data are standardized in a central data store for analysis. With the support of AWS, TPS adopted the Ed-Fi Data Standard to provide the unifying data model that allows them to store their data in a structured way.

“The Ed-Fi Data Standard and Operational Data Store hosted on AWS will allow us to reach our goal of providing tailored recommendations to teachers and students more quickly and more affordably than if we were to host this work on premises,” said Stephen Fedore, Chief Analytics Officer at TPS. “Hosting on AWS has allowed us to move faster in every facet, from financial planning and approvals to the time it takes to build out the environment. We don’t worry about infrastructure and instead focus on meaningful outcomes for students.”

Getting Started

Is your district ready to harness the potential of all the data it collects on a daily basis, just like Tulsa Public Schools did? We encourage you to check out resources available from Ed-Fi on their Getting Started page, and to leverage the AWS CloudFormation template available on the Ed-Fi Exchange.  For support in getting started, please email aws-education-k12-edfi@amazon.com.