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SIF Infrastructure Specification 3.3: errata published

Posted By Administration, Friday, August 30, 2019

SIF Infrastructure Specification 3.3: errata published

SIFInfrastructureIt has been reported by A4L Community members that there were a few inconsistencies in the recent release of the SIF Infrastructure Specification 3.3, and the Community has been working hard to address them.  

 The change with the greatest impact comes for those doing privacy work, as the POD has been updated to follow our conventions when it comes to listing contacts. There were also unintentional changes from 3.2.1, around the number of times other fields may appear or where “nil” values are allowed.  Work was also focused to make some of the Infrastructure specific payload features more obvious, and JSON much more approachable.   

So, if you are doing any work with the 3.3 Infrastructure you will want to be sure you are using the August 15, 2019 version of the Infrastructure payloads.

To review the SIF Infrastructure Specification 3.3, please go to:

Tags:  2019  errata  Infrastructure  Specification 

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SIF Infrastructure Implementation Specification 3.3 enters Community Review

Posted By Administration, Friday, March 29, 2019

SIF Infrastructure Implementation Specification 3.3 enters Community Review


SIFSPecThis may be our most impactful Infrastructure release since we switched to REST, due to the inclusion of components to express privacy controls over the wire, which even ensures the latest set is known by the receiving system.  This joint effort with the Student Data Privacy Consortium (SDPC), a Special Interest Group of the A4L Community, is just the biggest change in this landmark release. 

Members are encouraged to review the proposed Specification release and help us get it right!

Current Scope for this release includes: Privacy Integration, Version Indication/Negotiation, PESC JSON Adoption, Global Core Objects for Cloud/App integration, and clarifications* (not intended to change the meaning of the specification.)

The Community Review is currently slated to run from March 28 – April 14, 2019 (inclusive).  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.  A link to the Specification documentation can be found via the survey here.


Tags:  2019  Community Review  Infrastructure  Specification 

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Doers Doing...

Posted By Penny Murray, Monday, February 18, 2019
Updated: Friday, February 15, 2019

Doers Doing...

This Photo is licensed under CC BY-SA-NC 

This Photo is licensed under CC BY-SA-NC

In one way I am glad that interoperability and privacy is once again becoming a “hot button” topic for conversation in the wild world of education.  While the two terms might make may in schools roll their eyes, throw up their hands, or turn a blind eye, they are becoming more and more a concern in the everyday lives of student data stewards globally.  Items in the news, new organizations playing a role in the topic and even additional funding opportunities from outside sources can help support the right data getting to the right place at the right time under local control.

The other side of this coin is that, like fashion, this has been a topic really since 1997 when the origins of many of the technical standards organizations were formed by various communities to support the needs around data interoperability and in some cases privacy.  The SIF Association, now the Access 4 Learning Community, was the first group focused and driven by K12 end users demanding marketplace providers to address their growing data management issues at the local and state level.  So, in essence the topics are not “new” but elevating the awareness factor can benefit us all.

But that is only part of the story.  I am very proud of the thousands of organizations, volunteer hours, membership dues support and the community involvement that has been driving the work of this Community for now more than 20 years.


I mentioned to an outstanding group of educational support agencies last week that in my tenure at A4L, I have seen more than 37 national projects, supported by hundreds of millions of dollars, fail in their attempts to move the marketplace, support schools and states, or systemically change how we address the roles of the data stewards.  Generally, they either had no established and vested community just an end product or they had a community with no clear “what does success look like” in mind.


A4L and the SIF Specifications are in that way VERY different.  With our tiny staff the community determines the technical issues to address, the community does the technical development and the community gets the word out on the need for standardized data interoperability strategies – not driven by a staff or one or two vendors.  It is written into our By-Laws!  It means the specification development might take longer but we have transparent governance, development processes and community resources allocations for any to view.

Look soon for the next Community technical blueprint, codenamed “Unity”, to be released which will allow the thousands of applications using the previous SIF Specifications an easy lift to a new modern infrastructure, a data model aligned to the Common Education Data Standard, additional privacy controls in a Global Educational Privacy Standard, and the inclusion of standardized xPress API functionalities currently being used on the ground for rostering, student records exchange, IEP and soon grade pass back.

I am proud of this Community.  The work is Community driven, Community resourced and Community developed around transparent processes – for over 20 years of learning impact!




Tags:  2019  API  Community  community driven  GEPS  grade pass back  interoperability  privacy  roster  security  Specification  student records exchange  Unity  xPress 

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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