Standards First Resources

Standards First Resources and FAQs


Standards First is a substantial undertaking that is designed to help all market participants, suppliers and school districts work together to achieve and maintain convergence of implementations in practice.  There are many resources to help this effort.

Support and Training

  • There are many technical resources available to the public to address specific OneRoster consistency issues occuring in the marketplace.
  • A new certification for supplier members to onboard into the IMS Compatibility Check software to gain detailed insights into deviations from the standard and track compatibility and convergence of live implementations.
  • A series of ongoing technical roundtables for members covering Compatibility Check Certification and support resources.
  • Improved and expanded OneRoster certification testing to further address common problems.
  • A Training Program for School district staff to utilize Compatibility Check that covers the following:
    • What is Standards First?
      • Watch the overview video on Standards First.
      • Read the information about Standards First on the website.
      • Share thoughts/ideas about Standards First with IMS Global Community .
    •  How do I participate in the Compatibility Check (CCx)?
      • Watch the overview video of CCx.
      • Receive technical training in CCx
      • Education about certification and what’s happening in CCx - why is this information important and valuable and how does it help me and my district
      • Evolution of spec - “part of a user group - roundtable” to learn from each other
        • Technical Interaction and Management Interaction - they should sign up to participate and share Management Level review of results w/ district? To status where we stand. Share results of CCx with IMS Global Community (forum?/roundtable?).
    •  What is the Standards First Pledge?
      • Read the public version of the pledge and note the differences with the pledge for IMS Global members.
      • Share thoughts/ideas about the Standards First pledge with the IMS Global Community (forum?/roundtable?).*
      • Sign the pledge using the IMS form.
      • Support the use and implementation of the pledge in practices in your institution.
  • A public pledge of support for open standards as the foundation of our edtech ecosystem and associated signatory seal for all suppliers and school districts wanting to help this cause (for IMS members and non-members)



Why do we need the pledge?

The pledge provides a way for educational institutions and suppliers to endorse open standards along with their willingness to work together to ensure that open standards are successful in edtech. By “successful” we mean that open standards are the best way to achieve integration, substantially reduce the time/complexity of performing/managing integrations, and keep the barriers to innovation in edtech low.

How will taking the pledge make a difference in how the edtech ecosystem evolves?

Standards First is the best way to grow the ecosystem to support all stakeholders by achieving plug and play integration via open standards, enabling educational institutions of all kinds to design and implement an agile, scalable, data-rich edtech ecosystem that supports their unique goals in supporting faculty and students. The pledge highlights those organizations who agree that Standards First is the best way to help educational institutions. Your voice matters! And together we go farther, faster.

What benefits does my organization receive by signing the pledge?

In addition to being able to show your organization’s support for open standards by displaying the Standards First logo, your organization will receive the support and backing of the many associations that are working towards ubiquitous adoption of open standards. This includes IMS Global's growing network that is already over 600 member organizations strong. IMS will also support pledge signers directly with issues they report via the governance process.

Who can sign the pledge?

Any organization that agrees with the pledge can sign the pledge. You do not need to be an IMS Member. Individuals who sign the pledge must have the authorization to sign on behalf of their organization and understand the pledge governance process.

Is this pledge consistent with other pledges at work in the edtech ecosystem?

Yes. This pledge builds off of the pledges from the Unicorn Project on interoperability as well as the SIIA pledge on student data privacy. The Standards First pledge achieves the “gold standard” for interoperability that is based on open standards that can be verified on an ongoing basis by an extensive network of implementers and neutral processes and certification testing provided by IMS, the world’s largest edtech consortium. When it comes to Student Data Privacy, the Standards First pledge references the IMS App Vetting Rubric and TrustEd Apps Seal, which again is the gold standard for assessing data privacy.

Is the pledge only applicable to IMS standards or OneRoster?

No. The pledge is supportive of all open standards. Please endorse the pledge if you believe in the principles even if you don’t use IMS standards or OneRoster. The goal is success of open standards in edtech, not limited to IMS standards.

What is the definition of “Open Standards”?

There is no single accepted definition of the term open standards. IMS Global’s use of the term is consistent with a set of key principles endorsed by open standards advocates, including published specifications that are (a) freely available to all with no implementation restrictions, (b) licensed for free with no restrictions on software implementations, (c) created, endorsed, governed, owned and maintained by a substantial representation from across the community that is asked to abide by the standards, in our case the K-12 and HED edtech communities, (d) governed via transparent neutral processes that provide for equitable participation by members of the community, specifically not controlled by some limited set of market participants, (e) transparent with respect to any intellectual property claims that may hinder market adoption.

Can IMS guarantee that all signers of the pledge are faithful to all terms of the pledge?

No. But IMS does have the legal authority to revoke the pledge if the governance process reveals significant issues in their support of any aspects of the pledge. Remember that IMS is a non-profit collaboration across institutions, state education systems, and suppliers who have voluntarily joined to improve the edtech ecosystem for all. IMS has in place the community support to help resolve issues in a positive way for all stakeholders.

What happens if organizations don’t abide by the pledge?

IMS has instituted a governance policy for signers of the pledge. This governance is backed fully by the strength of the IMS community and its fair and neutral governance process.

Why does the pledge require transparency from suppliers with respect to fees related to open standards?

Open standards are of great benefit to suppliers in edtech in terms of reducing the cost of the many integrations they are required to support. Standards have a cost of implementation to suppliers, even if they are distributed and licensed for free (as is the case with all IMS standards). But the reason why so many leading suppliers choose to implement open standards, in addition to the many benefits to their customers, is that the cost is returned to them 100-1000 fold in savings in dealing with their partners. Despite this clear ROI to suppliers, some suppliers actually make it more difficult or expensive to provide an open standards-based integration to their customers. If that is the situation, then it is important for customers to understand this cost to decide whether they believe it is worth it. Now, it may be that the supplier has not implemented the open standard before and that the customer desires it in a timeframe that justifies an additional cost. The point is that customers need to be certain when they are getting open standards-based integrations and also be aware of the costs that might be added to the purchase for open standards versus proprietary alternatives.