SIF Association Remakes Itself to Focus on Data Usage in Schools

The SIF Association, which for 18 years has stoked the data sharing specification behind the Schools Interoperability Framework, is moving on. The organization has taken a new name — Access 4 Learning (A4L) Community — and a new focus, shifting from identification, management and movement of data to use of data.

The community is a blend of schools, regional support operations, government agencies and vendors that come together to lay out the technical blueprints for enabling products and services to work with and share educational data.

Along with the makeover, the organization has also updated several aspects of its specifications.

  • A new version of the global implementation of the SIF Infrastructure specification has been released with an emphasis on simplicity. Version 3.1 provides for simpler authentication through stronger single sign-on; simpler app support with JavaScript Object Notation, a lightweight data-interchange format; expanded query support with fewer HTTP headers; and simpler navigation.
  • The SIF Data Model specification, applicable to users in North America, has been updated to version 3.3, which implements several new objects that underpin two new APIs, xPress Roster and xPress Student Record Exchange.
  • Data Privacy Artifacts: Version 1 of this new resource was developed by an A4L task force that examines end user issues related to ensuring privacy for student data as well as staff and parental data. A 31-page report offers a "data breach" template to be used by end users should a vendor data breach occur; it also offers a student data privacy use case template to show people how to define who should have access to specific types of data.

"As an educator, policymaker, and most importantly as a parent, I am thrilled that the Access 4 Learning Community will be addressing critical data management issues that still exist but show how the conversations can move past management to its usage in the classroom to impact learners," said Larry Fruth, II, CEO and executive director at the A4L Community.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.