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SPEEDE/ExPRESS Electronic Exchange of Student Records (Transcripts) ... and more ! Copyright CAUSE 1994.

This paper was presented at the 1994 CAUSE Annual Conference held in Orlando, FL, November 29December 2, and is part of the conference proceedings published by CAUSE. Permission to copy or disseminate all or part of this material is granted provided that the copies are not made or distributed for commercial advantage, that the CAUSE copyright notice and the title and authors of the publication and its date appear, and that notice is given that copying is by permission of CAUSE, the association for managing and using information resources in higher education. To copy or disseminate otherwise, or to republish in any form, requires written permission from CAUSE. For further information: CAUSE, 4840 Pearl East Circle, Suite 302E, Boulder, CO 80301; Phone: 303-449-4430; e-mail info@cause.colorado.edu

SPEEDE/ExPRESS: ELECTRONIC EXCHANGE OF STUDENT RECORDS (TRANSCRIPTS AND MORE!) John T. Stewart Miami-Dade Community College Miami, Florida ABSTRACT: With increasing student demands for improved service and reduced institutional resources, this exciting new technology is one answer. The national project by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) successfully addresses both issues. The use of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) allows schools to exchange student records from Elementary and Secondary through Postsecondary in a national standard format developed by the AACRAO Committee on the Standardization of Postsecondary Education Electronic Data Exchange (SPEEDE) and NCES Task Force on EXchange of Permanent Records among Students and Schools (ExPRESS). This technology cuts costs and speeds the transfer process. Electronic exchange of student transcripts, electronic application for admission, electronic enrollment certifications and electronic college catalog will be discussed.

Take a little trip into the not too distant future with me this morning. Imagine that you are sitting in your living room at home with a young man who is beginning his senior year in high school. The conversation leads to a discussion about his future plans. What will he do when he finishes this year in high school? He has indicated a few interests for his future. He'd like

to make a comfortable living; he's interested in helping others; he's not too interested in sitting at a desk in an office the rest of his life; he thinks he might want to be a salesman or an engineer or a teacher. So you suggest turning on the cable television and explore a little with the computer attached to the TV. You switch to the channel on educational options. The interactive TV screen appears and gives some options to explore. Among these are o o Vocations Schools

Using the computer's mouse, you click on Vocations and you can specify an occupation or vocation or you may opt for a series of questions to answer such as o o o o How much money do you wish to make? (A few ranges are given and a choice is made.) Do you prefer indoor work, office work, outdoor work, etc.? Do you prefer a job involving a great deal of interaction with other people or do prefer work that you primarily do on your own? A few questions about your previous education: what is the highest grade completed? what is your grade average? what's the highest math and science course you've completed? what grade did you make? have you taken a foreign language and how competent are you in that language? what did you make in your last English composition course?

Based on the answers to these and a few other questions, the screen comes back with a list of potential vocations that might be appropriate. Finding one that sounds somewhat interesting, you click on it and see a short video that includes salary ranges common to that vocation, educational training required, descriptions of what the job is all about including interviews with selection people engaged in that vocation, and short and long range job prospects nationwide and in the local and state area. If you are interested in more, you select on what schools offer the educational preparation needed. You can narrow the search by specifying the geographic area, the relative costs, size of the school, public or private, two year or four year, etc. Once these selections are made, you are presented with a choice of schools that meet the criteria. You click on a school and you watch a short video about the school, the admissions requirements, the costs, the size and location of the school. The dean of the college that offers the selected program gives the advantages of that program as offered by that school. The dean also gives the latest completion rate data (of the number of first year students who started the program six years ago, how many completed and earned a degree and how many of them got jobs in the field). The president of the college gives a brief sales pitch, a faculty member explains a little about a couple of the

courses and a recent graduate relates her experiences at the school and in job hunting. Since your young friend liked what he heard, he returns to a menu that asks if he would like to apply for admission. He says yes and a series of questions appear on the screen and he uses his computer keyboard to enter the required information about himself and his academic record. A series of pop-up menus appear throughout this process and help screens are also available anytime the young man has questions about a question. At the end of the process, the young man is given the choice of sending the application now or storing the data for a later time. He's now quite eager and chooses to apply now. The application is immediately sent over the Internet to the selected college. Although most of the college administrative offices are closed at this hour, the data from the application are accepted, immediately processed, and the student is notified that the application has been received. The student is advised to send a check for the admission fee, and that the high school transcript has now been requested electronically and he will be notified in a few days on the status of his admission to the college. Sound far fetched? Not at all! Many of the features of this scenario are already operational. Programs already exist to provide the selected information on CD Rom. Programs already exist to apply for admission using a modem or by entering data on a microcomputer and returning a computer diskette to the college. Colleges are already exchanging educational records over the Internet and using Value Added Electronic Networks. But now a little background... A task force was formed by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) in early 1989 to explore the possibility of a national standard format to exchange postsecondary student academic records electronically over a value added network. This was already being done in three states, but each state had its own, different format. Since more states were exploring the idea, AACRAO saw the need for a common format that all schools could use for the transmission. This task force later became known as the AACRAO Committee on the Standardization of Postsecondary Education Electronic Data Exchange (SPEEDE). In mid 1989, the National Center for Education Statistics, a part of the United States Department of Education, sponsored a task force of elementary and secondary school visionaries to develop a national standard format for exchanging educational data for Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12 students electronically. This task force later became known as the EXchange of Permanent Records Electronically among Students and Schools or ExPRESS. Although meeting separately, each group had a representative in attendance at the other's meetings. Initially, each group developed a separate format, but when both groups decided to explore a standard format under the auspices of the American

National Standards Institute's (ANSI) Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) X12, the two formats became one. That format is now approved as a national standard for trial use by ASC X12 and is now known as the SPEEDE/ExPRESS format for a student educational record for students from pre-kindergarten through postsecondary. The two committees agreed upon the pursuit of an ASC X12 standard since it was hoped that we would eventually be sending student records to agencies and employers. The use of an existing standards structure would further facilitate this process since many industries already use other ASC X12 standards for transactions such as purchase orders. The process used by ASC X12 and now by SPEEDE/ExPRESS is known as Electronic Data Interchange or EDI. One definition of EDI is the exchange of information from one computer directly to another computer using a mutually agreed upon format. The first key point in EDI is that the exchange is from one computer to another with little or no intervention by humans. This means the data do not have to be reentered into the receiving computer. The second key feature in the EDI definition is the use of a common, agreed upon format. In this case, the format is the SPEEDE/ExPRESS format. What are the benefits of EDI for schools? They are many. Among them are cost savings, better and faster service to our students and alumni, better security and fewer errors caused by incorrect coding and inputting. First is cost savings. It has been estimated by a variety of institutions, that it costs from $3.00 to $8.00 to send a paper transcript of a student's record. This varies depending on the degree of automation already in place at an institution and includes the cost of processing the request, locating the correct record, copying it, preparing it for mailing, mailing it and then refiling the original document. In contrast, the cost of sending a transcript using EDI is estimated at from $1.50 to $2.00 depending on the number being sent in a batch and whether a Value Added Network or the Internet is used for transmission. However, the biggest cost savings are realized by the receiving institution. Here, the entire process can be automated. The receipt of the record is done entirely by your computer. It is matched automatically with the appropriate student in your student data base. It can be automatically fed into your computerized transfer evaluation program and with a minimum of keystrokes, integrated with your student data base. No need to re-key the courses taken at the previous institution to include in your degree audit system. Since the entire process is automated, the student, whose transcripts you send via SPEEDE/ExPRESS, gets faster notification of acceptance (or rejection) from the school to which he is applying. Not only is the student notified more quickly of admissions action, but since the transcript is evaluated more quickly and with more accuracy, the placement process is done more quickly and with fewer chances for error. And better placement means the student should graduate

in the shortest possible time. This means the student attains his educational goals more quickly. Security is an important plus with EDI. Very few college registrars and admissions officers today would argue that with the advent and easy accessibility of word processing, desk top publishing, color copiers, etc., our paper transcript is far from secure from tampering and fraud. Security is built in to the SPEEDE/ExPRESS transcript exchange with the use of the acknowledgment transaction. When a SPEEDE/ExPRESS transcript is sent, the sending computer generates a suspense electronic copy of key portions of the transcript and waits for an acknowledgment to be received. When the receiving school returns the acknowledgment transaction, the original sending school's computer compares what was received with what was expected and if it matches, all is well. It retains selected information about the time the original transcript was received by the other school so this information can be supplied to the student if an inquiry is made. This additional service of notification upon receipt was far too labor intensive in the paper exchange of transcripts, but requires no effort under the EDI process. Of course, if a sending school's computer receives notification of receipt of a transcript and the sending school has no record that a transcript was sent to that school for the student, the computer advises the sending registrar's office of a possible security violation. And, of course, if transcripts are not acknowledged in a reasonable period of time, then the computer notifies the sending registrar that there is some sort of a delivery problem. This can then be researched and the problem corrected before the student complains. In the paper system, a student complaint is the only way of knowing that the transcript was somehow lost in the mail. It should also be obvious that fewer errors are made by the receiving school in using the data on the electronic record since little or no re-keying of data was required to integrate them into the receiving school's student data base. At this time, SPEEDE/ExPRESS has four transaction sets that have been approved as Draft Standards for Trial Use by ASC X12. These are o o o o Student Educational Record or Transcript (Transaction Set 130) Acknowledgment of the Student Transcript (Transaction Set 131) Request for Student Transcript (Transaction Set 146) Negative Response to Request for Student Transcript (Transaction Set 147)

In addition, the student lending group of ASC X12, in cooperation with the SPEEDE committee, has also received approval of the Student Enrollment Verification Transaction

Set (190). Finally (at this time), the SPEEDE/ExPRESS group is in the final stages of approval of two other transaction sets: o o Application for Admission to a Postsecondary School (Transaction Set 189) Course Inventory (Transaction Set 188)

We hope to have both of these transaction sets approved by ASC X12 by February 1995. The first of these is eagerly awaited by several software vendors who have already agreed to utilize the format in their software packages which allow students to apply for admission on a microcomputer and send the application information to the colleges electronically either on diskette or over an electronic network (Internet or a VAN). The course inventory transaction set will allow a school to inquire electronically and receive additional information from another school about the courses offered there. This would include additional information such as course description. All this sounds great, but is this just a dream or are any transcripts actually being exchanged electronically in North America. Yes, things are happening with EDI in education. In Florida, during the past twelve months, over 270,000 student transcripts were exchanged electronically among high schools and postsecondary institutions. Over 75% of the high school seniors in the state of Florida attend high schools that are in production in the exchange of electronic transcripts. Over 75% of the students currently enrolled in public postsecondary education institutions attend a college or university that is in production in the exchange of electronic transcripts. Over 25 colleges in Texas are in production in the exchange of electronic transcripts. Virtually all the public postsecondary institutions in Maryland are in production. States in which production exchanges are now taking place include Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin. In addition, several provinces in Canada are either in production or pilot mode. The SPEEDE committee invited anyone interested in the project to attend a workshop on SPEEDE in 1990 in Phoenix and 100 folks showed up. This year in Raleigh, the fifth such workshop was held and the attendance was close to 400. There is excitement and momentum about the project. Recently AACRAO, with financial assistance from NCES, has been able to expand its staff to include an EDI coordinator, Betsy Bainbridge. Betsy has greatly facilitated the project and enables the SPEEDE committee to be far more productive than in the early stages of development. With continued funding and assistance from AACRAO and NCES, we anticipate the project to continue its expansion in the volume of transcripts and other transactions being exchanged in the United States and Canada.