Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council

PESC - HOME - Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council | Data Standards, Digital Data and Records Exchange, XML, JSON, JSON-LD, Electronic Data Interchange EDI, Voluntary Consensus Standards, Education's Standards-Setting Body, PK20W Education Standards Council, PESC Approved Standards and PESC Approved Services


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  These standards, however, are no longer maintained under ANSI as the community has agreed to work under PESC as education's standards-setting body, thereby  making ANSI's role obsolete.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  The launch and use of XML does not mean that use of EDI is obsolete.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.


PESC APPROVED STANDARDS, Technology and Services are community-sourced

and driven by PESC serving as an incubator to pilot and launch data standards

using an open, transparent and collaborative process (based on a voluntary consensus model); and,

by PESC serving as an open, data standards-development and open, data standards-setting body.  

PESC governs resource mapping and maintenance of education eco-system taxonomies,

schemas and shared code sets in various technologies (e.g. EDI, XML, PDF, JSON, JSON-LD)

produced and released as PESC APPROVED STANDARDS.


PESC’s standards development model welcomes the entire community

to help develop lifelong data standards!

PESC Workgroups (or Standards Development Workgroups) looking to produce

PESC APPROVED STANDARD – XML, JSON, JSON-LD, etc., are fully free and open,

meaning everyone can participate whether a PESC Member or not.

Eligibility to serve as Chair (or Co-Chair) and the right to vote on the Workgroup, however,

is only available to PESC Member organizations on the Workgroup.

PESC relies on Members to help fund and drive PESC, reserving leadership roles

and voting rights for PESC Members – the stakeholders most likely to adopt and implement standards –

provides a fairer and more equitable voice.

PESC looks to capture the best wisdom and intelligence from the broadest group within the community

to inform its development process, and thereby produce more robust, usable, ‘lifelong learning’ data standards.

Prohibiting non-Member organizations and stakeholders from participating and contributing ideas and efforts,

when they are willing to but not yet ready to become a Member, does not serve PESC or the community.

With this
PESC Workgroup model, the entire community is now welcome
and able

to participate in PESC Workgroups and the mission of data standardization

can now be adopted broadly and widely. 

PESC Members continue to serve as the leaders and funders of PESC,

enabling PESC to offer all data standards free and without charge.





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PESC APPROVED STANDARDS are available openly and free of charge for education and workforce, health and medical, military and government, and all teaching and learning communities - the cornerstone principle of PESC, PESC's Mission and PESC's Membership.

PESC APPROVED STANDARDS are Workgroup developed, proposed, approved, ratified and maintained through an open, transparent, rigorous, community-based, collaborative process, including a public notification when development initiates and a formal 30-day public comment period before approval, all governed by PESC Members.  

PESC APPROVED STANDARDS are platform and application neutral; used, implemented, adopted and integrated in systems, networks, applications, products & services; are hub and spoke and web services friendly; support a transaction or business process;​ and, can be implemented or used one independently from another.​​​​​

One PESC APPROVED STANDARD (e.g. the College Transcript Standsrd) is made available in several different technologies (e.g. EDI, JSON, PDF, XML), providing more technical choice for users. The EDI, JSON, PDF and XML data modeling guidelines and specifications, definitions and business processes are aligned and governed under PESC's Standards Development Forum for Education.  This alignment instills trust between different technologies, enables reliable data mapping across different technologies, and ensures data quality and integrity across different technologies.​​

the PESC Website and PESC Work Products 

in which you do not mention or

provide attribution to PESC:

use, access and downloading of 
are provided openly and free of charge.

You can also develop

derivative products and services from

and you are responsible for any use of 



  • XML schema that outline data file design & record structure
  • Implementation Guides that explain & describe adoption, integration & use
  • Instance Documents that display examples based on sample data​ (This mandate is a recent requirement and may not be included in some.)

Dependent on when developed and released, each are based on specific versions of:

The Academic Record is an XML schema that contains a dictionary of element type definitions that can be used to construct and validate XML messages. The library contains element types that are specific to information about a student's academic experience and accomplishments.  

Core Main is also an XML schema that contains a dictionary of common element type definitions that can be used to construct and validate XML messages.

​The PESC XML Technical Specification outlines PESC XML Schema Structure, development methodology and design rules.


While PESC has adopted certain EDI standards as PESC APPROVED STANDARDS and hosts corresponding EDI Implementation Guides, users must obtain the EDI standards from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).  For more information, please see the Introduction & Overview of SPEEDE/ExPRESS.

Terms & Conditions of PESC Membership & 

Use of PESC Intellectual Property (IP) 

Intellectual Property (IP) Policy & User Agreement

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

PESC Approved Standard



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PESC | PESC Approved Standards

What is a voluntary consensus standard?

​For some, voluntary consensus standard (also called Non-Government Standard) is a statutory or regulatory obligation.  For others, the term ‘voluntary’ creates a perception of a wide-open, unstandardized market in which closed, proprietary applications and/or services reign; and access and control of data, serve as the value propositions to attract customers and clients.

The most important concepts to understand about voluntary consensus standards:

- Voluntary consensus standards refer to data to be exchanged, shared, reported, sold and/or licensed between at least two separate and independent parties.

- While the value of voluntary consensus standards lies in the open, transparent, neutral and balanced process in place in the user community to participate (equally), develop, produce and maintain a standard, the value proposition is based in costs-savings, return on investment, improved data quality and efficiencies gained in overall data management and service delivery.

- Federal rules and regulations clearly articulate the roles and responsibilities for all Federal agencies with regard to voluntary consensus standards and Government-Unique Standards, including annual reporting to the Department of Commerce.

- Voluntary consensus standards are governed by standards-setting bodies that operate on a voluntary consensus-based model.

- A voluntary consensus standard can be mandated or required by an authoritative entity and emerges as a best practice model.

- A Government-Unique or proprietary standard can become a voluntary consensus standard.

The U.S. General Accounting Office describes voluntary consensus standard in a summary of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA) of 1995

“Government standards are developed by individual federal agencies for their own use. Although unique government standards sometimes are appropriate, such as standards for certain specialized military equipment, in other cases, a voluntary standard would suffice. This creates duplication for industry, which may have to provide two lines of production to meet both government and private needs and can put U.S. companies at a disadvantage in international trade.”

The major challenge for standards-development bodies and standards-setting bodes, like PESC, is maintaining a trusted, open, transparent, neutral, balanced and free voluntary consensus standard that in essence “levels the playing field,” while simultaneously promoting innovation in a market that may perceive the voluntary consensus standard as merely anti-competitive or optional compared to other technical standards.

From a Federal Agency perspective, there may be a lack of confidence in the utility, timeliness and sustainability of a voluntary standard and inconsistent guidance in existing statute, rules and regulations.