The A4L Community is comprised of several school districts, state agencies, educational advocacy groups, and vendors. The members of A4L collaborate to develop standards that can be used across different services to enhance data interoperability in education.
A4L is the publisher of the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF) specification. The objective of SIF is to provide a blueprint for enabling the transmission and reporting of data between different entities in the PK-12 space. SIF defines the standard requirements and protocols for communication between different educational software.
The SIF Implementation Specification is made of 2 parts:
- The Data Model – a set of XML schemas that define the formats of educational objects as they are exchanged between applications
- The Infrastructure – defines transportation and messaging functionality to ensure that data is securely exchanged
As the A4L community is a global organization, 3 different versions of the SIF Data Model are available for Australia, North America, and the United Kingdom. For example, the North America Data Model is based on the Common Education Data Standards for its vocabulary.
The modern SIF Infrastructure is independent of the Data Model and is designed to be globally deployed. A4L supports the SIF 3.x and SIF 2.x specifications. SIF 3, released in 2014, supports RESTful architecture, both synchronous and asynchronous messaging, JSON support, and a modern client/server topology to support cloud solutions.
A4L is also the developer of the xPress APIs. The xPress APIs offer schools and software vendors a solution to securely exchange data been modern applications using technologies like OAuth and RESTful design. The APIs in the xPress suite include xPress Roster, xPress Student Record Exchange, xPress IEP (Individualized Education Plan), and xPress Grade Pass-back. These APIs are built on the SIF 3 Infrastructure and CEDS standards.
A4L developed Unity, a blueprint for applications to adopt the SIF specifications and make them interoperable with other widely used standards, such as
- Learning Tools Interoperability,
- Caliper Analytics,
- PESC standards, and
- Ed-Fi Data Standard.
Unity is designed to incorporate A4L's Global Education Privacy Standards (GEPS) in order to make sure that student privacy controls are built into integrations and connections between schools and software vendors.
Read More on Data Standards
Here are other articles we’ve written on Data Standards to help you on your integration journey:
- What’s the difference Between API and LTI Integration
- Updated | What is “LTI Integration”?
- If I work with Edlink will I automatically be OneRoster/LTI/Clever (etc) Certified?
- The Challenges of Using the LTI Standard for K12 and Higher Ed LMS Integrations
- The History of LTI
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