Data standards are traditionally set through three main methods:

1. through product or service or vendor domination in a specific market,

sector or network

2.  by mandate through a governmental

or authoritative body, agency,

statute, regulation or law

3.  through a voluntary, consensus-based

approach with an open, transparent

and collaborative process

A voluntary consensus-based approach to data standards is the most successful method.  A groundbreaking report from the Delphi Group in 2003, from which PESC based most of its strategy and operations, highlights the value of standards and key factors on community views and perceptions of standards bodies.

Electronic Transcript Exchange:  Benefits and Experiences of Early Postsecondary Adopters

October 2012, Eduventures

Value of Standards

Delphi Group


Andrew Updegrove

A Business Case for the Electronic Exchange of Student Records

April 1997





In the early 1990's the Standardization of Postsecondary Electronic Education Data Exchange (SPEEDE) Committee of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the U.S. Department of Education worked together to develop the first electronic standards in higher education for processing transcripts, which was developed in an existing technology called Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).

With the successful launch and implementation of an EDI transcript standard, other data exchange processes were developed in EDI as well, including admissions and test score reporting.  Note;  While use of EDI grew and continues to be implemented in the registrar and admissions communities, for a number of reasons including programming complexities, the financial aid community did not adopt and implement EDI but works now in XML.

The EDI standards were originally developed under the requirements of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the most current version of the EDI suite of transactions is version 4, published in April 1998 and based on X12 Version Release 4010.  These standards, however, are no longer maintained under ANSI as the community has agreed to work under PESC as education's standards-setting body, thereby  making ANSI's role obsolete.  PESC's Education Record User Group, established in 2008 to govern the development and support of all admissions and registrars standards, now also governs all EDI standards and all EDI standards are now considered PESC Approved Standards.

Around 2000, admissions, financial aid, and registrar communities also began developing standards in a new technology called eXtensible Markup Language (XML) under PESC.  The launch and use of XML does not mean that use of EDI is obsolete.  In choosing which technology to use EDI or XML, organizations must determine the capabilities of the organization with which they exchange data and perform a number of analyses including cost benefit and strategic.

Note:  The Statistical Networking Applications Project (SNAP) has published a comprehensive implemetation guide for data exchange between and among PK-12 schools/districts and colleges and universities.  These two editions are fully compatible.



In 1998, a new technology called eXtensible Markup Language (XML) was created.  XML quickly became popular as by this time programming was no longer bound by file size restrictions.  With XML being more easily programmable and more verbose (human readable), PESC launched a study group to analyze and recommend to the PESC Board of Directors what steps PESC should take with regard to XML.

In response, the Board Response to the XML White Paper was issued.  This Response included several key factors:


PESC - Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council | Leading the Establishment and Adoption of Open Data Standards Across the Education Domain | XML | EDI | JSON | Transcripts | Credentials

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