Access 4 Learning (A4L) is a non-profit corporation that focuses on offering solutions for issues concerning educational data. The A4L Community is comprised of several schools 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 (formerly known as the Schools Interoperability Framework Association) 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 up two parts:

  • The Data Model, which is a set of XML schemas that define the formats of educational objects as they are exchanged between applications, and;
  • The Infrastructure, which defines transportation and messaging functionality to ensure that data is securely exchanged

As the A4L community is a global organization, three 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.

xPress API

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 standard.


A4L is currently developing Unity, a blueprint for applications to adopt the SIF specifications and make them interoperable with other widely used standards, such as Learning Tools Interoperability® (LTI®), Caliper Analytics, PESC standards, and the Ed-Fi Data Standard. Unity is also being designed to incorporate A4L's Global Education Privacy Standards (GEPS) in order to make sure that student privacy controls are foundationally 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:

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