Q: The Data Hosting Agreement seems to contain a lot of “legal eze” and hold the district responsible for everything. Should we sign that?
A: The intent of the Data Hosting Agreement (DHA) is to set the criteria within which each data hub will handle data on behalf of districts. It is primarily geared toward giving the local district the control of what data is shared. What may be viewed as the district being responsible is more a restriction and prohibition on what a data hub hosting agency or anyone acting on behalf of the agency can do. Essentially we (data hub hosts and persons working on behalf of data hubs) are not allowed to give any information from a district to anyone else without permission of that district. We have to carefully manage, protect and encrypt your data. We have to make sure the data is where nobody else can get to it. If you decide that you no longer want to use the data hubs, we have a responsibility to destroy and copies of your data and provide you with a certificate stating as much. Unfortunately I agree it is a lot of legalese, but that is for your protection as districts, not for you to be held responsible for everything. I hope that clarification is sufficient, but there is the ability to download a PDF of the unsigned agreement to have your own legal counsel review should you choose. The agreement does not need to be e-signed in order to complete the survey information we are requesting. It is acceptable to hold off on signing (or rejecting) the agreement until your district is ready to begin using the data hubs for integration of your district data.
Q: Why are there so many users listed with authorization to my district in the cockpit application?
A: In order to expedite completion of the survey portion, we went the route of using MTRAx user information to initially assign rights to users. In many cases, this resulted in the correct tech contacts being assigned to districts and has been extremely valuable. Unfortunately, the user information from MTRAx seemed to have a broader set of users than we expected. Typically it included staff from your ISD and possibly other districts in the area. It is possible that those other users had a different access level in MTRAx, but we were unable to determine that in the data we received. While we would prefer that those users had not been assigned as such, the amount of time that would have been needed to address the issue was significant and the impact is actually rather minor. First, as district tech contacts you are able to remove anyone who you do not wish to have access by clicking the Delete button when you are logged in. That will only take a minute or two to complete. Second, those extra users don’t have access to any data for your district and will not until your district SIS is integrated with the data hubs. As part of that process, we will verify that districts have the proper contacts and that they understand how to manage contacts going forward. Finally, there may be some ISD contacts that you want to keep if your ISD provides SIS support for your district. That discussion is belt held with your ISD, and any user removed can always be added back at a later time. We appreciate your assistance in cleaning up user access for your district.
Q: Why are Superintendents included as users?
A: Superintendents are a key part of the process as they are the only ones able to e-sign the Data Hosting Agreement (DHA) for your district as mentioned above. The DHA acceptance enables your district for data integration. Because superintendents frequently prefer not to become involved in that level, there is capability for them to assign a proxy to handle e-signing the agreement. In either case, we would appreciate you reaching out to your superintendent on this process, assisting him/her with creation and use of their login, and advising on whether to e-sign the agreement or to hold off until later.
Q: Why am I having issues logging in to set my password?
A: We are finding that users who copy their ID and password from the email notification are sometimes accidentally including an extra space at the end of the fields they are copying. The system is actually interpreting that as part of the password rather than ignoring the space. It is unfortunately easy to do as the copy functionality seems to want to add in the extra space. If you have difficulty with the copy/paste option, please try typing your email address in the user id field and manually typing the password. If you continue to experience login issues, please email me at email@example.com for assistance.
Q: What if I (or my superintendent) deleted the account email, thinking it was SPAM?
A: You may be able to recall the message from the “trash” portion of your email program. If that isn’t possible, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a replacement email.
Q: After I set my password, it says that I’m logged in but doesn’t take me anywhere. What do I do next?
A: That is an issue that we hope to address soon. The reason for it is that the password is part of our single sign-on (SSO) and when you go in to the SSO directly from the email, it doesn’t know which of the 5 data hubs you are assigned to. Once your password is set, we recommend that you go to http://22itrig.org/activities/data-integration/applications/ and click on the link for the Cockpit Application for your TRIG Region. If you do that just after setting your password, you should not have to log in again at that time as you are already authenticated. If you are not previously authenticated, you will go to the SSO login screen and then be redirected to the hub that you chose following a successful login.
Q: When can districts begin to use the data integration portion of the data hubs?
A: The main answer is that it depends upon when your SIS is ready for integration. Districts using MISTAR, Skyward and SunGard eSchoolPlus can begin configuration for data integration now. We’ve held a webinar for Skyward districts already and functionality for those districts is in the most recent release, which I believe was dated December 3rd. For MISTAR, Oakland Schools and Wayne RESA are the primary supporting agencies for the product and will be communicating timelines with their districts as they bring their pilot districts over to production successfully. SunGard reports that districts need a license key installed to enable the functionality for configuration and that they can provide documentation for the process. PowerSchool and Edupoint Synergy are getting close with their connectors, but are not yet ready. Infinite Campus is coming along, but anticipating at least spring before they are ready. While e-signing the DHA is the only thing required for your district to begin working on the configuration process, we do recommend that districts sign-up to go live by visiting http://22itrig.org/activities/data-integration/districtapplication/ and completing the Google form referenced on that page. That will allow us to assign a Data Hub Support Specialist to assist your district with the process as student systems are ready.
Q: At the district level, what information is available on data integration so I can plan for my systems to be compliant/ready?
A: The Data Integration project is working to create connectors from the six selected student information systems: Aequitas MISTAR/Zangle, Edupoint Synergy, Infinite Campus, Pearson PowerSchool, Skyward and SunGard eSchoolPlus. If you are on one of those systems, then you are well positioned for the future. If you are in one of the districts implementing the Illuminate SIS, it is our hope that they will also write the connectors to send data to the data hub in the appropriate format.
We recently asked several questions as part of the TRIG survey to determine which systems you use for Assessment, Data Warehouse, Special Education, Alert/Notification, Food Service, Library and Transportation. By answering those questions, you will be providing us with the information we need to make sure that integrations are ready for the systems that you use.
From a technological standpoint, the only thing that you will need to do to be ready is to allow for SFTP traffic to flow from you network to the data hub, and back. When we get close to that point, we will be providing trainings to help districts with all aspects of setup and configuration.
In the Fall of 2015, we plan to begin rolling out to an additional 150 or more districts as we have the connectors ready. I hope that you will take that opportunity to apply to be one of those districts.
Q: What is the Difference Between Data Warehouses, Student Information Systems, MiSchoolData and the Data Hubs?
A: It is very easy to get confused between the wide variety of systems that house student-related data. Everything really begins with the Student Information System (SIS), which houses the most up-to-date (transactional) data on student enrollment, demographics, attendance, courses, programs, services and grades. A data warehouse typically receives data from a SIS as well as other sources. Data warehouses typically aggregate data over years for analysis and may house an assessment system for teachers to deliver assessments to students. Data warehouses may not contain the most up-to-date information for current students, although they may have the most recent assessment data for assessments delivered through the product.
MiSchoolData is a very specific type of data warehouse and analysis tool. It feeds off of many state-level data sources, combining state reporting and state assessment data. MiSchoolData has a public side where de-identified, aggregate data is available as well as a private side that has some detailed student level data that is only available to those with authorized logins. Since MiSchoolData works from state data sources, it is only as up-to-date as the last data dump received.
The Data Hubs are a product of the TRIG Data Integration Activity, and serve two purposes. The first is that they serve as a conduit for the exchange of data between data systems (SIS, Special Education, Assessment, Alert, Data Warehouse, Learning Management System, Library, Food Service, Transportation, etc.) based on a standard data format provided by the Ed-Fi Alliance. As such, they work to make sure that the data in all systems is more complete, accurate and up-to-date. The second is that they have an operational data store (ODS) database that houses current, up-to-date data merged from multiple systems in a common format. This allows for a number of solutions to be built upon the ODS including dashboards, reports, a single sign-on, and ultimately state reporting.
Because they house data in an ODS, the data hubs can seem to have similar traits to Student Information Systems, Data Warehouses and MiSchoolData. However, there are differences as well.
Similar to a SIS, the Data Hubs house student data and can be reasonably up-to-date and transactional depending upon how data is fed to the ODS. However, the data hubs don’t necessarily contain all data from the systems it integrates with and there is no mechanism to directly enter and manage data in the data hubs. The hubs only maintain data for fields that they need to exchange with other systems or use for hub benefits such as dashboards, reports, single sign-on, and state reporting.
Similar to a Data Warehouse, the Data Hubs can provide dashboards and reports with actionable information. Dashboards and reports from the data hubs tend to have more real-time time, current-year data rather than aggregated longitudinal data that would be provided by a data warehouse. As a result, the data hubs are not intended as a replacement for data warehouses or for MiSchoolData specifically.
Unlike other systems, solutions built on the data hubs can be easily shared within the state and even between states that use the Ed-Fi Solution. Otherwise, solutions can only be shared by those using the same system (PowerSchool or Skyward, for instance) and only when they use the products the same way with similar data standards.
Unlike district-level SIS and Data Warehouse systems, the data hubs can serve as the basis for a statewide single sign-on that all systems can leverage if desired.