04 October 2012

CEDS and the Four-Layer Framework for Data Standards - Updated

About a year ago I posted a Four-Layer Framework for Data Standards. It was developed as Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) working groups were discussing the space in which CEDS operates and what makes its contribution unique. Today I'm updating the framework document – adding some clarity but mostly reconciling terminology with that used by CEDS.

In the June CEDS stakeholders' meeting the group emphasized that CEDS works strictly at layers 1 and 2 (Data Dictionary and Logical Data Model) leaving serialization and protocol to other standards organizations. This leads a unique approach (at least unique to the education standards space) in which the focus is on alignment instead of compliance.

To support this strategy, CEDS has posted the Align and Connect tools. The Align tool allows State Education Agencies, software vendors and other organizations to post their data models and show how their elements align to CEDS. Organizations can choose to make their data models public; in which case Align can be used to report the degree of alignment between two data models. The new Connect tool addresses the sharing of metric definitions like graduation rate, student financial aid repayment or college-going rate. Metrics like these are not in the data model, they are derived from that data. And different organizations may combine the data in different ways. Connect supports the sharing and eventual standardization of these metric definitions.

Another question I've gotten is how the four-layer framework overlaps with the OSI 7-layer model. Layers 1-3 (Data Dictionary, Logical Data Model and Serialization) in the four layer model map to the Application layer (layer 7) which is at the top of the OSI model. All other layers in OSI are combined into the Protocol layer in the four-layer model.

The latest four-layer document is here. It's released into the public domain under a CC0 disclaimer.

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