Washington, DC, 10 May 2011 — The SIF Association today announced the public release of the SIF Implementation Specification (United States) 2.5, which significantly expands both the existing SIF Data Model and the breath of the underlying SIF infrastructure to meet end user and developer interoperability demands in the K12 marketplace.

SIF Infrastructure Enhancements
The most prominent feature of this release is the introduction of the new SIF Web Services reference infrastructure as an alternative to, but not a replacement of, the existing HTTP(S) based one. This new infrastructure converts the entire SIF Zone into a web service and enables developers to utilize industry-standard tool kits to create web service applications which can access and update all SIF-conformant educational data utilizing the widely available SOAP and WSDL technologies.

There are no migration issues introduced for the administrators of existing SIF Zones. Once the Zone Integration Server (ZIS) is upgraded to the SIF v2.5 release, all new SIF web service applications will interoperate seamlessly with previously deployed SIF components, and may replace them with no effect on application to application interoperability.

In addition, all new SIF web services benefit from the full range of infrastructure functionality currently provided by the ZIS, including guaranteed message delivery, content based routing, service auto-discovery, event publish and subscribe, and enforcement of centrally administrated data privacy and data security policies.

An accompanying “SIF Web Services Developer Kit” has been published concurrent with this release. The kit includes a set of WSDL and SOAP-binding XSD files that formally define the requirements of the new SIF infrastructure, and which will generate all necessary operation “stubs” for programmers using common web service development platforms. This should greatly assist in the construction of SIF Agents and ZIS’s which implement the SIF SOAP transport and implement or access web services conforming to the SIF Service WSDLs.

SIF Data Model Enhancements
Important extensions to the model have been made in the area of Teaching and Learning functionality, including:

• Extending Assessment to incorporate the individual measures associated with a particular assessment item. This new structure provides a more flexible way to include established as well as new types of measures.
• Providing a more robust structure for Assessment psychometric measures that allow for a wide range of both innovative Measurements and different Test designs.
• Generalizing Student Participation to encompass multiple Programs.

Internationalization
The new SIF Web Service reference infrastructure is independent of the SIF v2.5 US Data Model, and has been defined in a separate release document. As a result, it can be directly utilized throughout the SIF international Community. Each of the SIF Association’s global locales will be free to refine and extend their own set of data objects and elements to more adequately address their specific requirements, without a resulting impact to the underlying SIF web service operations.

“The Community involvement in developing the new Specification has been outstanding” states Larry Fruth Ph.D., Executive Director/CEO of the SIF Association. “The global participation has been a true measure of the enthusiasm and support in developing this Specification for the educational marketplace. The enhanced functionality incorporated in this release, as well as the separation of the data model from the underlying infrastructure, ensures that the SIF Association is ‘the’ place for interoperable solutions and takes great strides in achieving out-of-the-box interoperability. I am delighted with this new development and look forward to continued work with the international community, enhancing the open-standard even further to fulfill the needs of the marketplace.”

The SIF Implementation Specification (United States of America) 2.5 can be found at http://specification.sifassociation.org/implementation/us/2.5/

A self-tutorial developed to support this Specification release can be found at https://www.sifassociation.org/us/upload/news/8E57E1_Self-Tutorial_SIF_Imp_Spec_US_2_5.pdf

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About the SIF Association
The SIF Association is a unique, non-profit collaboration composed of over 3,200 schools, districts, local authorities, states, US and International Ministries of Education, software vendors and consultants who collectively work to define the rules and regulations for educational software data interoperability.

The SIF Implementation Specifications they produce are not a product, but a technical blueprint for enabling diverse software applications to efficiently, reliably and securely share data related to entities in the educational marketplace, regardless of the platform hosting those applications.

For the vendor, the SIF standard facilitates seamless data sharing and reporting between conformant K-12 applications without incurring expensive customer-specific development costs. For the end user, the application conformity it provides, allows schools and District and State Educational Authorities to purchase and deploy best-of-breed solutions easily and seamlessly.

For further information, visit http://www.sifassociation.org.

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