Oklahoma, The Wave, & SIF: A Success Story
The Oklahoma State Department of Education is dedicated to improving student success through service to schools, parents and students; leadership for education reform; and regulation/deregulation of state and federal laws to provide accountability while removing any barriers to student success. The OK SDE serves 512 traditional school districts, 28 charter school districts, 58 charter school sites, and over 1,795 schools. With over 693,700 students in the state, the OK SDE works hard to meet the challenging needs of students with educational technology.
In 2004, the Oklahoma state legislature passed into law a requirement that by the 2005-2006 school year any Student Information System (SIS) or Instructional Management System used by school districts within the state were required to send data to the state via version 1.5 of the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF)* protocol.
This meant that all SIS vendors would be required to have a SIF Agent that would send the data to the SDE utilizing XML. To do this, the SDE needed to have a way to receive data from the districts. The SDE also needed a way to automatically generate and send the state level student unique identifier, known as a Student Testing Number (STN),back to SIS systems over the SIF protocol. The goal of the state was to create a comprehensive state student information system. The multi-year project would collect the necessary data from schools to perform the required functions and duties of the state.
With over 50,000 students and more than 540 school districts, it was of vital importance that data coming into the state, as well as the STN assignment, was fast and reliable. The system needed to have fail-safes that would allow for issues with connectivity that were common to rural districts as well as the capacity to handle the large amounts of data coming in from the largest districts in the state.
The SDE was already dealing with an excessive amount of students with multiple STNs due to the old processes. The new system needed to be able to handle the many different cases for STN assignment without creating new STNs unless it was truly a new student. The state also wanted a way for school districts to manage their own cases for possible duplicates so that the state was not burdened with STN assignment issues.
State reporting needed to be fast and accurate. With multiple reporting periods and so many districts of varying size and technical expertise, state reporting was difficult to complete in a timely manner for the SDE and for school districts.
Real time data from the SIS brought about a new problem - data entry accuracy. The SDE wanted to implement data validation during collection via the SIS SIF Agent. This meant districts could not export a file to a spreadsheet and modify the data manually for reporting. The districts needed to see data errors quickly and securely.
In 2004, the SDE and the SIF organization started working to produce a new version of the SIF 1.5r1 specifications that became known as the Oklahoma SIF Specification. This version of the SIF specification was customized to the needs of the SDE with additional extended objects that were necessary for data collection. Every SIS vendor in the state would need to certify that they met the Oklahoma SIF Specifications in order to sell in the state.
CPSI was selected to implement the Wave system in 2005. Over the course of the initial meetings, a hardware structure and basic plan of action was put into place to implement the STN automation and initial Wave Reporting structures.
CPSI also helped to further refine the Oklahoma SIF Specification and a new version was released in 2006 that would be final for the 2005-2006 school year and encompass the initial collection and STN process.
The Oklahoma SIF Specification also defined the requirements for handling the STN. To do this, CPSI implemented several products, including xDZIS as the Zone Integration Server, xDStore as the Operational Data Store, xDUID for assigning STNs, and xDValidator for business rules validation.
The system was designed where data flowed from the district’s SIF Agent through the xDZIS and then into the xDStore. The xDValidator and the xDUID read the data in the xDStore. xDUID managed the assignment of the STNs and gave users the ability to login to a web interface to resolve ambiguous issues with students. xDValidator read the database and verified the data against the implemented business rules.
The Importance of Data Automation and Real Time Data
Data automation and the ability to collect data in real time was critical to the success of the project. Traditional methods, such as file uploads over SFTP, have too many areas for critical failure in the delivery of the data. Collecting the data automatically and direct from the source in real time enabled the SDE to have a constant flow of data for STN assignment and data collection. This meant that the SDE could deliver the STN numbers back into the Student Information Systems at the speed of reality.
Districts were expected to fix any data errors in their SIS system. This would trigger the data to be sent via the SIS SIF Agent to the state and start the process from the beginning for records with errors.
Users needed a way to view data securely while still giving the state the flexibility to add to the system as the years went on. CPSI designed a web based user interface that the state now upkeeps to deliver reports to their users about validation errors. This UI also gave users the ability to manage their data certification and STN assignment issues.
All components of the system needed to be housed on site within a secure network. All apps were installed on the servers hosted and maintained at the SDE by SDE staff. This created a secure environment for all student data while maintaining the SDE’s ability to ensure that all data privacy laws are upheld within their system. No data is sent to any server that is outside of the control of the SDE at any time.
The SIF Implementation
The Wave system was initially rolled out using the SIF 1.5r1 framework in 2006. The vendors were required to support the reporting of data via a SIF Agent. The SDE developed their own version of the SIF specification that was given to vendors that detailed the support requirements.
Initially, eight objects were collected from districts via SIF Agents. In 2007, the SDE moved to the SIF 2.0r1 framework and expanded the requirements for support from vendors. The requirements for SIF support has continued to expand over the years and still continues to grow.
The Oklahoma State Department of Education has automatically assigned STNs and collected data for reporting for over 12 years. This is one of the longest running state level data collections systems in any state in the United States, and one of the only ones that does this full data collection automatically. One of the biggest factors in the long running success of this project has been the use of the real event-driven data framework that is behind the SIF specification. The SIF specification also provided a way for vendors to share and consume data over the common “language” of SIF.
CPSI has been implementing and creating tools to make SIF work for education since the beginning of SIF. CPSI leverages SIF in all of its tools, allowing the tools to work in nearly any educational technology environment. This gave the Oklahoma SDE the ability to use the CPSI toolset to enable them to collect data from over 540 school districts in record time.
The SIF Objects
The current data collection from districts in the state of Oklahoma includes the objects listed below. The SIF specification for the state is published annually and contains information on the requirements for each of the elements within these objects as well any extended elements that are required.
The SDE is currently collecting and validating data for over 540 school districts seamlessly via automation. The SDE is also assigning STNs for over 693,700 students, 41,775 teachers, and thousands of staff members. The Wave system receives an average of 8,810 requests per week over 5 servers hosted at the SDE. Over 430 different validations occur against the 20 different objects collected on a daily basis, creating millions of data validations occurring daily. Plus, the average time for validation and STN assignment is under 9 seconds.
Data Validation Statistics
136,980,372 validations on student personal records daily (141 validations)
65,558,380 validations on student school enrollment records daily (44 validations)
Wave DB Size for 2017 to 2018: 990 GB
Total Number of Records Updated and Entered on a Weekly Basis: 46,000,000+
Number of Student Personal Records: 971,492
Number of Student School Enrollment Records: 1,558,145
Number of Student Section Mark Records: 1,488,723
Highlights and Features
- Utilizes the CPSI toolset: xDStore, xDUID, xDValidator, xDZIS, xDComposer, and more
- Data is collected from over 540 school districts in real time over the SIF 2.0r1 specification
- STNs are assigned and returned to the district automatically using the xDUID toolset from CPSI
- Long term solution has withstood the test of time
- Districts have the ability to manage their own data securely over the web for data certification, reporting, and STN management
- Fully automated system does not rely on human intervention
- SDE has access to current real-time data all year - not just at reporting periods
- Increased efficiency in state reporting since districts do not have to “remember to report”
- xDStore gives the SDE the ability to easily expand data collection without the need for custom programming
- The Oklahoma State Department of Education has saved both money and time, allowing the SDE to do more with less resources
- All SIS vendors in the state are required by law to connect to the SDE via SIF Agents
To download the Success Story, please click here (PDF) >>
*SIF is a ‘technical blueprint’ designed to enable data exchange between disparate applications. It is an open standard, developed by marketplace stakeholders – LEAs, SEAs, vendors. It is not a proprietary solution and it is freely available from the website for any vendor to develop conforming products, enabling real-time, seamless interoperability. For more information, please go to SIF Specification webpage.
About CPSI Ltd:
We provide many different services to our clients. Our main focus is always on data standardization and enhancing the quality of data. As part of our services with your products, we work with you to help you standardize the data in your districts as well as improve the quality of the data.
During implementation, we are there every step of the way to help you make the best decisions for your district. Our years of experience mean we know what you are going through and how important it is to make decisions right the first time. From deciding which data standard to use when to writing business rules customized just for your district, we are here to help. Our staff provides training for your district as part of our implementation process. We can provide day long on-site training, remote training, and quick “touch-up” sessions whenever you need them. Learn more at cpsiltd.com.
By publishing this information, the A4L Community does not endorse or recommend any specific product, but is merely promoting the use of the SIF Specifications and open standards.