This Working Draft presents an exploration of a possible future data standard change reflecting an alternative model for sections. Because this would be a significant breaking change, this Working Draft is to gather early comments and feedback for the approach.

Note: There is currently no plan to incorporate this change into a future release.

General Discussion

The current Ed-FI model (v4 data model) for organizing instruction is centered about a student’s attempt at a course is via a tightly bound Section-CourseOffering, as shown below:

Current Section Entity Model

New models for organizing instruction in schools have identified shortcomings with the current model, as follows:
  • Section may be associated with multiple Course Offerings and students (and staff) be associated only with a subset.
  • Need to capture responsible teacher for students in a multi-course section.
  • Students (and staff) may leave and come back into a course without having to create a new section association or change sections.
  • Students may take a course (online, remote facility) without having a Section assigned for it
  • Online instruction may occur in combination with a classroom portion.
  • Programs are being defined to a myriad of non-instructional or complementary instructional requirements for graduation.
  • Section may be associated with multiple Programs and students may not participate in all Programs.

Use Cases

The exploration of a new section model was motivated by the following use cases that were identified over a number of meetings of the State Education Agency Work Group, as follows:

Credit recovery - Multiple students are grouped in a single class with a monitoring teacher. Student is enrolled in credit recovery but not associated with a particular course.  Each student may be studying a different academic subject with a different accountable educator who not associated with the section.

Multiple courses taught in the same section – Within a single section, different teachers may be providing instruction for different courses to different subsets of students.

Online course study – Students attempt a course via online instruction that is not associated with a scheduled Section or in combination with a classroom portion. The online course may be taken with a staff teacher, with a teacher outside the state, or have not designated teacher.

Instruction in facilities outside of the school - Students from various schools within a district are grouped together for classes in a facility outside of the school, such as a special education co-op, interlocal facility, or residential treatment facility. The facility is not required to report the structure of their classes.

Student-level participation in program – Not all students participate in a program associated with a section.  When a section is offering more than one program, students could be participating in one or more programs in that section.  A student may have multiple section associations participating in the same program.

Student exits and comes back to the same section for the same term - This represents a single attempt for which they receive a grade

Career and Technical Education – Practical work experience time is scheduled as the same course multiple times in a student’s schedule.

Working Draft Details

The current section model combines several concepts in the same Section-CourseOffering bundle:

  • The Course (via the school’s CourseOffering) that the Student is attempting during a session
  • The scheduling of the Section to the ClassPeriod during the school day
  • The assignment of the Student to the Section
  • The assignment of Teacher(s) to instruct the Students in the Section

The alternative section model described in the Working Draft splits these concepts into two:

  1. The Student’s attempt at a Course (via the school’s Course Offering) during a Session
  2. The scheduled Section to which Students and Teachers are assigned during a Session

This approach results in somewhat alternative conceptual model of instruction where:

  • Courses remain the definitive organizations of instruction
    • Courses are identified by a CourseCode unique within the SEA
    • Typically defined and published by the SEA (though some states may allow districts to define new courses)
    • Academic graduation requirements are defined by Courses
    • Credits are earned for courses

  • CourseOfferings still defines those available Courses offered by a school
    • A CourseOffering is associated with a single Course
    • CourseOfferings are identified by LocalCourseCodes unique within the School

  • Section is for scheduling settings for instruction for students at a given point in time during the school day(ClassPeriod)
    • Section settings may be physical (Location), virtual, or hybrid.
    • A CourseOffering may be offered in multiple sections for different collections of students
    • A section may have multiple CourseOfferings with different students and staff assigned.
    • A student may attempt a CourseOffering without a section (online or self-study course).

  • StudentSectionAssociation is deprecated and replaced with a new StudentCourseAttempt entity

  • New StudentCourseAttempt reflects a student’s attempt at a Course during a session
    • Created at the time the student registers for a CourseOffering for a Session
    • Reflects the specific CourseOffering(s) and Program(s) the student is participating in the Section
    • Updated when the Section and ResponsibleTeacher is assigned
    • Student may leave and re-enter the same CourseOffering
    • Student may change sections and/or ResponsibleTeacher for the same CourseOffering

  • StaffSectionAssociation reflects the scheduled assignment of staff to Sections and the specific CourseOfferings they teach in that section

  • Programs represent activities or services that work in supplement to a main academic program.
    • Programs are flexibly defined to represent a broad spectrum of non-course school activities and services
    • Program participation and completion may be required for graduation

  • StudentProgramAssociation reflects the student’s participation in the program during a session.
    • Student participation in a Program may be associated with a section (setting, time, and location)
    • A student may participate in a program not associated with a section
    • Not all students in a section are participating in any or all the programs associated with it
    • Students may leave and come back into the Program participation

The alternative section entity model is depicted below. Changes in associations and their cardinality is shown in red.  The existing entities are shown in blue and the new entity is shown in green.

Alternative Section Entity Model

Alternative Section Model UML

The following diagrams use a modified UML representation that highlights the entity keys (above the dotted line), the component elements of reference attributes, and the attributes and references contained in relevant common types, as follows:

Modified UML Representation Key

In this representation the cardinality of the associations can be inferred from the cardinality of the Reference attributes.  Using this notation, the following representation shows the alternative section model.

The alternative section model has the following detailed changes:

  • Remove the CourseOffering reference from Section key and change its cardinality to 1-to-many, a required collection
  • With CourseOffering reference no longer part of the Section key, remove Session reference from the key of CourseOffering.
  • Add the Session reference into the key of Section to replace the reference removed as part of the CourseOffering reference in the key.
  • StudentSectionAssociation would be deprecated and replaced with a new StudentCourseAttempt entity reflecting the CourseOffering that the Student is attempting during a Session.
    • An optional SectionAssignment collection is an attribute of StudentCourseAttempt captures the assignment of the attempt to a particular Section, the related Programs the Student is participating in, and the designated ResponsibleTeacher from that Section. Multiple SectionsAssignments bind different section
    • Instead of having BeginDate as part of the key, an optional Period collection can capture multiple BeginDates and EndDates.
  • Attributes are added to the StaffSectionAssociation to reflect which CourseOfferings were taught for which Period of time when a Section has multiple CourseOfferings.
  • The StudentCourseAttempt reference is part of the key of Grade instead of the StudentSectionAssociation.
  • The StudentCourseAttempt reference is optionally added to the CourseTranscript.

Alternative Section UML Model

This alternative model in the context of the larger Ed-Fi model is shown below:

Alternative Section UML Model in Context

Implementation Guidance

This alternative section model is provided for review and comment.  The question is whether the new instructional models in field justify such a breaking change:

  • Introduction of a new entity StudentCouseAttempt
  • Deprecation of StudentSchoolAssociation
  • Change to the key structure of Section
  • Cascading impacts of these changes to:
    • StaffSectionAssociation (key impact)
    • StudentSectionAttendanceEvent (key impact)
    • SectionAttendanceTakenEvent (key impact)
    • SurveySectionAssociation (key impact)
    • Grade (key impact)
    • GradebookEntry
    • StudentCohortAssociation
    • EvaluationRating
    • StudentCompetencyObjective
    • StudentLearningObjective

Another implication is that the SectionIdentifier must be unique within a School and a Session.

If an organization wishes to trial the alternative model as an extension, entities with key changes should be renamed, suggesting the following:

  • New StudentCourseAttempt
  • CourseOffering -->  SchoolCourseOffering
  • Section -->  SchoolSection
  • StaffSectionAssociation →  StaffSchoolSectionAssociation
  • Grade →  CourseAttemptGrade
  • Extend attributes of the existing CourseTranscript (no key changes)
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