Opinion
Education Opinion

The Possibility

By LeaderTalk Contributor — February 28, 2009 2 min read

What does it take right now to register a student in your school and have them fully functional as a part of your learning community? Really think about it. They have to go to one office and register then that clerical staff will have to either walk or send, in some way, his/her information to probably four or five different offices at the very least.
What if I were to tell you that my school district will have it down to one office in our school district by the beginning of next school year. What if I were to tell you that the same will be for staff? This sounds like a Utopia kind of situation but it is not something mythical. It is actually something technological. It is SIF. SIF stands for Schools Interoperability Framework. It is a way that multiple databases can talk to each other. The states of Virginia and Ohio are really leading the charge from a top down approach but there are also other school districts that are also starting to really get into SIF. SIF is really a specification that vendors have to adopt to become “SIF certified”. Once they do, their data can be passed to other databases or they can receive data. I do not want to get into all the technical jargon but I rather lay out some scenarios for you.

Johny Smith and his family have just come to your district mid- year. He goes to your registrar’s office and they fill out a few forms that are common to most school districts. The registrar confirms the information and then types it into the computer. By entering it into the student management system, it then blasts through and out to all your other systems. Within seconds, he can now check out a book, log on to a computer, be on a teacher’s roster, be assigned to the right bus, have lunch, and even possibly have an IEP started for him, if needed.

Second scenario is similar, except it is a staff member. They come to you at the beginning of the year so you put them in your student management system. Now they can check out a book, sign onto a computer, be in the payroll system, sign up for professional development, start to access their student’s data, see the curriculum maps for their classes, look at the IEPs for their students. All of this within seconds after being put into the student management system.

This is the power of SIF. If you are school districts has not already started to look at it, they should. It will save hours of time for your clerical staff and keep your data clean since there is only one entry point. Again SIF is not a vendor but just a specification. There is a good chance that a lot of the vendors you already use, have a SIF “agent”. Our district has invested heavily already and it is paying huge dividends. I hope your school district can have the same benefit. To learn more go to http://www.sifinfo.org

James Yap

The opinions expressed in LeaderTalk are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.