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All things relating to the North American A4L Community.... don't forget to check out the blogs on the global/locale Communities too! | Global: http://www.a4l.org/blogpost/1546358/Chapter-Locale-Global | Australia: http://www.a4l.org/blogpost/1545371/Chapter-Locale-Australia | United Kingdom: http://www.a4l.org/blogpost/1545553/Chapter-Locale-United-Kingdom

 

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Top tags: 2019  North America  2018  elections  2017  Specification  A4L Community  Community  IEP  Individualized Education Plan  SDPC  Data Model  event  SIF 2  SIF 3  technical  2.8  at risk  boot camp  CatchOn  CEDS  Community Review  data privacy  ENA  external  FPF  global  Iowa  Massachusetts  NCES Forum 

'Unity’ Specification enters Community Review

Posted By Penny Murray, Friday, March 29, 2019

'Unity’ Specification enters Community Review

 

SIFSpecThe Access 4 Learning (A4L) Community, is now proud to cause a new “buzz” – the best of the best from 20 years of interoperability specifications to address school needs and allow for states and vendors to implement the US Department of Education’s Common Education Data Standards (CEDS).  The new Specification – code named “Unity” – is built using 20 years of experience by our more than 3,000 volunteer members developed using open, non-proprietary and transparent processes linked to a quality control Certification Program.  It contains the most comprehensive K12 data model and modern transport technologies to securely move the data to provide it to the right person at the right time in the right way under local data privacy policies.

The North American Technical Board (NATB) has set out to provide the market with an incremental path forward… and the recipe is simple!.  This draft Specification includes data objects from the (NA) 2.8 Data Model; xPress Roster objects; IEP objects; Address and Student Program Association objects; Support of UUIDs and legacy GUIDs; Pluggable Code Sets & Extension Points throughout; and CEDS Mapping.

The Community Review is currently slated to run from March 28 – April 14, 2019 (inclusive).  ALL North American Community Members are encouraged to provide their approval/feedback before COB on April 14 and will need to login to the website to access the survey here.

 

Tags:  2019  Community Review  Specification  Unity 

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If you have not seen the State Student Privacy Report Card, the grades are not good...

Posted By Penny Murray, Friday, February 1, 2019

If you have not seen the State Student Privacy Report Card, the grades are not good...

You may have seen the recent release of the State Student Privacy Report Card which analyzes the thoroughness and quality of student-data privacy laws passed in the LogoU.S. in the past five years.  If you have not seen it, the grades are not good.  On the one hand it shows that there is a lot of work to be done on the legislative front regarding student privacy, it also does not address or advocate for supporting the “on the ground” realities schools and districts face every day in their roles as data stewards.

This “you should…” versus “you can by…” is the reason that the Student Data Privacy Consortium (SDPC) was initiated.  All the legislation, pledges, promises, suggested guidelines and signatories have elevated the conversation around student data privacy but not the “how” to act to ensure it.  The three key activities being addressed by this non-profit, membership driven community of thousands of schools, dozens of states, numerous countries AND marketplace providers are tactical with possible immediate how to impact:

  1. Privacy Contract Vetting: The Common Contract Framework is a set of tools allowing schools to manage their numerous applications, streamline contracting for them, and workflow from the identification of an application to its implementation in a school/district – and everyone informed throughout!  There are now 7 State Alliances using the same contract clauses for all vendors.  That is critical mass!
  2. Privacy Effective Practice Development and Sharing: The Digital Tools Governance project provides a “how to” develop any privacy policy, procedure, process in addressing issues in each digital ecosystem.  You can craft teacher PD, FERPA 101 for vendors, data breech policies, vendor engagement, etc. – you pick the topic!  You can then share your product with the rest of the Community.
  3. Technical Privacy Expectations: The Global Education Privacy Standard (GEPS) will allow the legalese in contracts to be converted into technical requirements so suppliers can get the relevant information they need from their customers and allow them to prove the adherence to those contract terms.  This is a collaborative effort between the SDPC and the technical wizards of the Access 4 Learning Community and their SIF Technical Specifications.

To see if your state has an SDPC Alliance (there are 22 now with more coming in each week) you can be a part of, or are interested in learning more about the tools, community and support in your tactical student privacy issues drop us a line.  Don’t wait on legislation to fix this!

 

 

Tags:  2019  external  State Privacy Report Card 

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It’s that time of the year... no, I am not talking about the holidays!

Posted By Penny Murray, Thursday, January 17, 2019

It’s that time of the year... no, I am not talking about the holidays!

 

It’s time to hit the road to start the 2019 education conference season – a season that never seems to end!  This year we start out with the UK’s BETT and the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) from January 27-30 in sunny Orlando, Florida.  Looking at the sessions and vendors for both gatherings, it is very apparent that student data privacy is once again a “hot topic” for those who will be attending the festivities. 

 

FPF-SDPC_logoIf you are off to Florida we want to make the conference season a great kickoff to your calendar year – and it costs you nothing!  The Access 4 Learning Community, via it’s Special Interest Group the Student Data Privacy Consortium (SDPC) are thrilled to Join with the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) provide a free ‘Student Privacy Boot Camp’ for districts and marketplace providers.  This interactive event will outline the various privacy considerations for your role, privacy resources, and strategies that you could easily employ to protect students and link you to an international network of practitioners that are doing the same each day – just like you! 

January 28, 2019

Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC), 

Orlando, FL

 

If you want support in all aspects of student privacy in your role in the classroom, overseeing data management, reporting and communications or need some immediate ‘tactical’ data privacy suggestions and/or tools that you can use immediately when you get back to your school this event is for you – and FREE!

 

Places are limited, so REGISTER TODAY.  To download the event flyer, please click here.

 

To see the latest on privacy policy, legislation, in the news and almost everything else to inform your work as a data steward check out the FPF resources.  If you want tools, strategies and a more than 1,500 school peer group support for your work check out the SDPC resources.

 

 

Tags:  2019  A4L Community  boot camp  event  FPF  privacy  SDPC 

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Data Access and Data Privacy – It is NOT an “either/or” Conversation

Posted By Penny Murray, Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Data Access and Data Privacy – It is NOT an “either/or” Conversation

edwebinarI have been ask a lot lately about the work of the Access 4 Learning (A4L) Community in the development of technical blueprints for interoperability that allows data to flow seamless between applications and the growing work of the Special Interest Group the Student Data Privacy Consortium (SDPC) working to protect student data access.  Are they not in competition with each other?

 

Not at all. Actually they compliment each other.   Even if you envision them at opposite ends of a kids teeter totter, we all should be looking at the center pivot point for the perfect location for allowing for the management, movement and safe keeping of data for our youngest citizens.  I agree, and have used the scenario that interoperability can allow for the violation of all US FERPA and EU GDPR laws and privacy can “lock down” with un-intentional consequences for those who need access including teaching practitioners and even parents,  the goal is about control over the data for the right person at the right time.  The more you look at how openly developed technical standards, like the SIF Specifications, can allow for privacy control the more you learn about the empowerment that data stewards can have in their digital ecosystems.

 

I will be writing much more talking about this balance and some “effective practice” stories from our global community in the near future but thought I would invite you to a edWebinar, hosted by the Leadership and Innovation community:

 

Wednesday, Jan. 16 at 3 p.m. Eastern Time

Data Access Is Easier Than Ever: Is That a Good Thing?

Sponsored by the Education Networks of America (ENA) and CatchOn

 

Besides this webinar, there are multiple opportunities to get linked to your peers in addressing empowerment via both interoperability and data privacy.  Come listen in to this free session and ideally you will walk away wanting more information on how the A4L and SDPC Community can support your balancing act!

 

 

Tags:  2019  CatchOn  data privacy  ENA  SDPC  webinar 

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2019 A4L Community North American Elections

Posted By Penny Murray, Wednesday, January 2, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Announcement to Membership: 2019 A4L Community North American Elections

NA-Elections

The Access 4 Learning (A4L) Community has continued to have phenomenal leadership over the past year.  The leadership, guidance and overall dedication to the Community prove critical to our collective successes. With the upcoming 2019 Annual Meeting, it is hard to believe that it is time for elections again!  Nominations for the North American Management Board and At-Large Technical Board will be available from January 31 -February 28, 2019 (inclusive).

The Management Board is elected for two-year terms.  This year there will be seven (7) seats open for the Management Board.  To be eligible to run for the Management Board, the individuals shall be at least eighteen (18) years old and be A4L Community Voting Participants or employed by or representing an A4L Community Voting Participant and duly authorized to represent that A4L Community Voting Participant, but need not be residents of the District of Columbia.  An A4L Community Voting Participant Member institution (including associated subsidiaries of an A4L Community Voting Participant) may have at most one representative on the Management Board at one time.

The At-Large Technical Board is elected for a one-year term.  There are four (4) seats open for the At-Large Technical Board members.  At-Large Technical Board members must be A4L Community Voting Participants or employed by or represent an A4L Community Voting Participant and duly authorized to represent that A4L Community Voting Participant.

You can download the policies and procedures for the Annual Elections as outlined by the Elections Committee on the A4L Community Site here (login required).

For the 2019 A4L Community North American Annual Election process, the following dates apply:

  • 2 January 2019Announcement to membership that elections will occur
  • 31 January 2019 Nominations open
  • 28 February 2019Nominations close
  • by 7 March 2019Elections Committee convenes to confirm ballot
  • 13 March 2019:  Ballot released
  • 27 March 2019Voting closes at 5:00 pm Eastern
  • 28 March 2019Elections Committee convenes to confirm results
  • 4 April 2019Elections results announced during the NA 2019 Annual Meeting

We will use a virtual election tool and all nominations must be submitted electronically.  The Primary Business Contact will be the official vote for each A4L Community Voting Participant, unless a designee is provided.  Please contact Penny Murray, pmurray@A4L.org, to confirm your Primary Business Contact, or organization ‘designee’ for the 2019 NA Elections.

We will send out information to submit your nomination beginning on 31 January 2019.  Please consider nominating yourself, asking someone to nominate you or nominate someone else to run for one of these leadership positions within the A4L Community!

Any queries relating to the North America 2019 Election process or procedures, please contact Larry Fruth.

Tags:  2019  Community  elections  North America 

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Call for volunteers: North American 2019 Elections Committee

Posted By Penny Murray, Wednesday, November 14, 2018

VolunteersCall for volunteers: North American 2019 Elections Committee

The A4L Community are seeking members to serve on the North American (NA) Elections Committee. As a Committee member you will be helping the A4L Community by overseeing the election process, assisting in conducting the election process and reviewing the policies and procedures on behalf of the Association members.

For the 2019 SIF Association NA Annual Election process, there will be three (3) Committee meetings scheduled.  If you are interested in serving on the NA Elections Committee, please contact Penny Murray by Tuesday 27 November 2018.

Tags:  2019  A4L Community  elections  North America 

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Request for Proposal (RFP) bid opportunity: Iowa Department of Education

Posted By Administration, Friday, September 7, 2018

Iowa_DoERequest for Proposal (RFP) bid opportunity: Iowa Department of Education

 

We have been advised of the following Request for Proposal (RFP) from Iowa Department of Education.  Any queries relating to this RFP should be made directly with the relevant contacts contained within the RFP document.

 

The Iowa Department of Administrative Services (DAS), on behalf of the Iowa Department of Education (IDOE), wants to inform you of a Request for Proposal (RFP) bid opportunity for a State-wide, vendor-hosted Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF) solution.   IDOE anticipates an SaaS solution that will establish a single SIF data collection system.  A single, unified Operational Data Store (ODS) would be integrated with the single data collection system.  If your organization is interested in this RFP opportunity or, if you know of other companies that may be interested, the complete RFP bid information and documents can be accessed at: https://bidopportunities.iowa.gov/Home/BidInfo?bidId=391d1873-a9ba-4e82-8f34-51e25465f29e  

 

NOTE: Vendors with questions or comments about the RFP must submit them by 12PM Noon Central on Sept. 14, 2018. (See page one of the RFP for details.)

 

Further RFP schedule details can be found on the first two pages of the RFP document.

 

Deadline for the State to receive contractor proposals for the opportunity is 12PM NOON Central on WEDNESDAY, OCT. 17, 2018.

 

Thank you for your interest.

 

Tags:  2018  Iowa  Request for Proposal  RFP 

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Why Put Students in Harm’s Way – Twice?!?

Posted By Larry Fruth, Wednesday, August 1, 2018
Updated: Thursday, July 26, 2018

Why Put Students in Harm’s Way – Twice?!?

signOne of my most memorable professional moments occurred years ago in DC education meetings when a large room of teachers and policy makers were discussing the concept of “at risk” learners and the various educational strategies that can be employed to address this “subset” of kids.  One educator stood up in front of the room and stated, “I just want you to know that ours school recently found out that all kids are “at risk” – I teach at Columbine High School”.  Yes this was 1999.

We all know very clearly now that our definitions of “at risk” has changed to not only mean academic oriented activities but now must include physical and emotional well being.  Some of these are under their control and some aren’t.  Take for an example last year’s hurricane Category 5 hurricane Irma, the most powerful ever to hit the Atlantic, which devastated most of the Caribbean including plunging more than 1 million citizens of Puerto Rico into darkness.  This put all Puerto Rican leaners “at risk” and many families fled the islands for the US mainland.

One of the major landing point, due to many familial cultural and established networks were the states of Texas, Florida…. and Massachusetts!   These learners entered into established local and state educational institutions – many of which were not ready to address this influx in numbers and needs for these new learners.   An example of one state who utilized K12 community built open standards for data management was the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and their use of the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF) Specifications built by the Access 4 Learning (A4L) Community.

“This year, our statewide usage of the SIF standard has been so valuable in our ability to track and budget for Puerto Rican migration as a result of Hurricane Irma”, states Rob Curtin, Associate Commissioner Data & Accountability, MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. “We have had over 3000 students arrive in our state and we have used our real-time SIF reporting capabilities to provide weekly updates to the Governor’s office.  This was critical information for policymakers in how best to support the schools receiving and educating these new students.”

So add “environmental incidents” to the list creating “at risk” learners for all of our schools!

 

About the SIF Specification
The SIF Specification is not a product, but a technical blueprint for enabling diverse applications to interact and share data related to educational entities in instructional and administrative environment.  To find out more about either the SIF (global) Infrastructure or any of the locale-specific SIF Data Models, please go to: https://www.a4l.org/page/SIFSpecifications

 

 

Tags:  2018  at risk  Massachusetts  real-time reporting  SIF Specification  student mobility 

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Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)

Posted By Penny Murray, Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)

IEP’s are critical for learners and the practitioners who provide their learning opportunities including parents – and it's the law.

“Children with disabilities have the same right to a free and appropriate public education as any other child… (that provides) services to meet their unique needs”

This is laid out in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a 2008 amendment to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA).  ADA covers certain accommodations with what’s known as a 504 Plan where IDEA gives students with more significant disabilities the right to specialized instruction. The need continues to grow.  By 2014–15, the number of children and youths served under IDEA was 6.6 million, or 13 percent of total public school enrollment.

20yrsOfChangeInSpecEd

The process is straight forward, in theory.  A request is made, an eligibility study is done, a plan is developed, a list of annual goals, a plan for achieving them and a plan for monitoring progress is developed.  In my role at a technical standards organization, as an educator and a parent, I believe ALL learners should have an IEP and I know how effectively built technology can make that happen. 

Three years ago, the Access 4 Learning (A4L) Community undertook the challenge to gather experts in IEP development and usage, and link them to IEP application vendors to create a standardized IEP that could address some IEP challenges:

  • Learner mobility and IEP information moving with them
  • Challenges in creation and presentation of information from numerous sources plus current paper and pencil dependence
  • Changing from one system to another and proprietary “hooks” in applications

The technical blueprint is now freely available for end users to demand from the IEP products they purchase, and for software developers to build to.  The SIF Data Model Implementation Specification (North America) 3.5 outlines the data needed and the (global) SIF Infrastructure Implementation Specification 3.2.1 outlines how to move that data in a standardized manner.   The data “picture” alone is worth a look!

The US Department of Education’s Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) Project then utilized this work adding IEP information to their data model.  CEDS is a national collaborative effort to develop voluntary, common data standards for a key set of education data elements to streamline the exchange, comparison and understanding of data within and across P-20W institutions and sectors.  The CEDS stakeholder group reviewed the IEP work from federal law requirements lens, categories of data guided by the regulations, what kinds of elements might be needed locally to best carry-out processes and ensuring aligned definitions, option sets and context.

In the end, creating an effective IEP takes time, effort and patience. Technology tools on the market today should support this critical, yet complicated process.  Demanding a standardized approach to IEP tools can empower end users and enable marketplace creativity.   

For more information:

 

 

Tags:  2018  IEP  Individualized Education Plan 

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2018 North American Elections: Nominations open!

Posted By Penny Murray, Saturday, January 13, 2018
Updated: Friday, January 12, 2018

2018 North American Elections: Nominations open!

Nominations for the North American Management Board and North American At-Large Technical Board are now available.  Nominations will be open from January 12 - February 9, 2018 (inclusive).  

The North American Management Board is elected for two-year terms.  This year there will be eight (8) seats open for the North American Management Board.  To be eligible to run for the North American Management Board, the individuals shall be at least eighteen (18) years old and be A4L Community Voting Participants or employed by or representing an A4L Community Voting Participant and duly authorized to represent that A4L Community Voting Participant, but need not be residents of the District of Columbia.  An A4L Community Voting Participant Member institution (including associated subsidiaries of an A4L Community Voting Participant) may have at most one representative on the North American Management Board at one time. 

Those North American Management Board Members that are serving their second year of a two-year term and will be returning to the North American Management Board for 2018 include:

  • George Gatsis, Follett School Solutions
  • Mike Nutter, Vinson Consulting
  • Stevin Smith, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Brian Townsend, Vermont Agency of Education 

The North American At-Large Technical Board is elected for a one-year term.  There are four (4) seats open for the At-Large Technical Board members. North American At-Large Technical Board members must be A4L Community Voting Participants or employed by or represent an A4L Community Voting Participant and duly authorized to represent that A4L Community Voting Participant. 

You can download the policies and procedures for the Annual Elections as outlined by the Elections Committee at:  http://www.a4l.org/resource/collection/A9C4A195-5E79-4EF1-9121-DB4C382533F3/2018_North_American_Board_Elections_Process_and_Policies_FINAL.pdf (login required).  

For the 2018 A4L Community Annual Election process, the following dates apply:

  • January 12, 2018: Nominations open
  • February 9, 2018: Nominations close
  • February 14, 2018: Elections Committee convenes to confirm ballot
  • February 21, 2018: Ballot released
  • March 14, 2018: Voting closes at 5:00 pm Eastern
  • March 14, 2018: Elections Committee convenes to confirm results
  • March 15, 2018: Elections results announced during the (NA) Annual Meeting 

The A4L Community will be using a virtual election tool and all nominations must be submitted electronically.  Nomination information will be sent to all North American A4L Community members via email.  Please consider nominating yourself or someone else to run for one of these leadership positions.  The Primary Business Contact will be the official vote for each A4L Community Voting Participant.  Please contact Penny Murray to confirm your Primary Business Contact. 

Sincerely, 
Larry L. Fruth II, Ph.D.
Executive Director/CEO
A4L Community

 

North American A4L Community members can find nomination information here >>
(login required)

 

 

Tags:  2018  elections  North America 

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  • SIF Association (dba Access 4 Learning (A4L) Community)

  • PO Box 1024, New Albany, Ohio 43054-1024

  • Phone: +1.202.621.0547

  • staff@A4L.org