FLORIDA AUTOMATED SYSTEM FOR TRANSFERRING EDUCATIONAL RECORDS
FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
OFFICE OF APPLICATION SUPPORT (OAS)

Effective: November 15, 2009
Revised: February 26, 2010

Chapter I

Introduction

The Florida Automated System for Transferring Educational Records (the "FASTER System") provides school districts, state colleges, universities and technical centers with the means to exchange transcripts and other student records electronically. It is an electronic mail system in which the "messages" are the requests for transcripts and the responses to these requests. Both requests and responses must follow predefined record formats and edit specifications. FASTER users exchange national and international records by taking advantage of the built-in interface to SPEEDE/ExPRESS (Standardization of Postsecondary Education Electronic Data Exchange/Exchange of Permanent Records Electronically for Students and Schools), a set of record formats which has been approved by the American National Standards Institute. For more details see Chapter II, Section J of this manual and the FASTER-SPEEDE/ExPRESS Interface Guide.

The FASTER User Manual is updated annually. Changes and additions made to the current document are in color, bolded and italicized or have a colored background. Deleted text is struck through with hyphens. The manual is found on the FASTER homepage at www.fldoe.org/faster/ along with links to the FASTER listserve and other related links.

Requests and responses from institutions are the inputs and outputs of the System's programs. The programs, and the data base "mailboxes" they serve, are housed at Northwest Regional Data Center (NWRDC) in Tallahassee. The Florida Information Resource Network (FIRN2) provides the communications network over which request and response messages travel.

Currently, the System can be used to transfer four kinds of student records:

Interdistrict Records consist of a public school student's permanent record and selected category "B" information. As the name implies, these student records are transferred between school districts. A subset of the Interdistrict Records formats is also used to transmit Bright Futures information from school districts to the Office of Student Financial Assistance.

The Secondary Transcript is the set of records that accompanies a high school student's application for admission to a Florida postsecondary institution. These records are transmitted when a student specifically requests his or her high school to send the records to a postsecondary institution. The Secondary Transcript is also used to transmit Bright Futures information from school districts to the Office of Student Financial Assistance. The student may also authorize a postsecondary institution to request the transcript from the student's high school on the student's behalf. In this case, the postsecondary institution issues a request to the student's high school, which responds by shipping the student's Secondary Transcript to the postsecondary institution.

Technical Center Records consist of a technical school student's permanent record and selected category "B" information. As the name implies, these student records are transferred between technical centers.

The Postsecondary Transcript serves approximately the same function for postsecondary institutions that the Interdistrict Records serve for school districts. They are also sent to the Bureau of Educator Certification.

While it is generally true that Postsecondary Transcripts are only exchanged by postsecondary institutions, and that Secondary Transcripts are only sent from secondary schools to postsecondary institutions, this is not always the case. At times, it is useful for school districts to receive either Secondary or Postsecondary Transcripts from postsecondary institutions as in the case of dual enrollment or for the purposes of post-secondary feedback to the districts. However, when a district requests transcripts from a postsecondary institution, that request is made in the postsecondary format (P00). That is the only restriction, in FASTER, as to the types of institutions that can send and receive Secondary and Postsecondary Transcripts. Interdistrict Records, however, can only be sent and received by school districts.

A. Contact Information

The FASTER system collects and transmits a wide variety of data, and is utilized to exchange transcripts between school districts, state colleges, universities, and technical centers. If you have questions about the data that is found in the FASTER formats, please refer to the list below for the contact and office best suited to address your question.

As your primary contact, schools should direct questions to their district office initially. District offices receive a daily error report that shows transcripts that were submitted but failed to pass the FASTER and Bright Futures edits. Your district is always the best source of information.

CONTACT AREA

CONTACT

TELEPHONE NUMBER

Bright Futures Bright Futures Helpdesk 1-888-827-2004
Data Transmissions Northwest Regional Data Center (850) 245-3500
Technical Centers Tara Goodman (850) 245-9002
Migrant Students Jay Rembert (850) 245-0811
Talented 20 Helen Lancashire (850) 922-3727

If you are experiencing technical issues involving the exchange of FASTER data that cannot be resolved at the district level or through the contact list above, the staff in the Office of Application Support (OAS) can provide you with assistance in resolving these technical issues. If you have questions or experience problems submitting or retrieving records via the FASTER system, contact the OAS staff at the phone number or the e-mail address below. A technician will be in touch with you at our earliest possible convenience. Please include your e-mail address in phone messages.

TECHNICAL CONTACT

E-MAIL ADDRESS

FASTER/Bright Futures - Technical (OAS)

FSTR@fldoe.org



B. System Overview

Electronic student records transfer is a multi-step process (see System Overview Diagram).

1.

It begins when an institution decides it needs student records held by another institution. The first institution prepares a request record according to the System's standard format. The request record should give the second institution identifying information sufficient to uniquely identify the student.

2.

The first institution puts the request record in the data base mailbox of the second institution. This is done by transmitting the request record over FIRN2 to NWRDC where it is used as input to the request posting program SRTS01. This program edits the request record and checks the validity of the address information in the request record. All valid requests are then stored in their addressee's postboxes. An edit report of requests with data errors is returned to the first institution over FIRN2.

3.

The second institution empties its mailbox of incoming requests by running the request pickup program SRTS02. This program copies any requests in the mailbox to a working file at NWRDC, marking the data base originals " delivered. " The working file is then transmitted over FIRN2 to the second institution.

4.

In the meantime, the first institution runs the Outgoing Aging Report program SRTS21 to see when its requests were delivered (i.e., picked up by the second institution). This program produces a report and/or file of message delivery dates which, when transmitted back to the first institution, can be matched back to the original request record.

 

NOTE: Delivered messages are deleted after 14 days.

5.

At the second institution, the requests file is matched against the second institution's files (using programs developed by the second institution).

6.

The second institution prepares a file of responses to the requests it has received, formatted according to the System's standards. These responses will either be sets of student records (where a request can be satisfied) or simple message records (where a request did not uniquely identify any student in the second institution's files).

7.

This file of responses is transmitted to NWRDC where it becomes input to the response posting program SRTS03. This program edits the response file, storing on the data base all records having no errors in key fields (such as those dealing with addressing information). The program sends an edit report and a file containing the Header Records of any records having either reject or other edit errors back to the second institution over FIRN2. It also posts a header record to the first institution for any transcript that failed to post to that institution's mailbox.

8.

The first institution empties its mailbox of incoming responses and failed responses by running the response pickup program SRTS04. This program copies any responses in the mailbox to a working file at NWRDC, marking the data base originals " delivered. " The working file is transmitted over FIRN2 to the first institution, where it can be processed for addition to the first institution's files. Also transmitted to the first institution is an edit report informing the first institution of any non-reject errors on the file of requests it has just picked up. Records with reject errors will, of course, not get this far, only notification of records with reject errors.

9.

In the meantime, the second institution runs the Outgoing Aging Report program SRTS21 to see when its responses were delivered (i.e., picked up by the first institution). This program produces a report and/or file of message delivery dates which, when transmitted back to the second institution, can be matched back to the original response record. Delivered records are automatically deleted from the data base after 14 days.

10.

The student records received from program SRTS04 are assimilated into the automated records of Institution 1, using programs and procedures written by that institution. Notice of failed attempts to post a transcript can also be monitored by Institution 1.

11.

If a response is sent outside the state of Florida, it must pass through the system's interface to the SPEEDE/ExPRESS national electronic transcript system. This is an automatic interface that does not require execution of additional procedures by FASTER institutions. Just supply the correct addressing information on the Header Record and send the transcript in the same way you send transcripts to FASTER participants. The system handles all communications with " the world " outside of FASTER.

A shorter version of the above procedure will commonly be used when a student directs his or her institution to send the student's records to another institution. In this case, a set of response records will be prepared without a prior corresponding request having been received. Steps 1 thru 5 of the above procedure would then be skipped and record transfer would begin with step 6.

On Sunday evenings, between 6:00 PM and midnight, the System is taken off-line for maintenance. All records that were delivered more than fourteen days earlier, are archived and removed from the data base. Only a transcript's Header Record is preserved in the archival process. All other information is erased.

C. How to Use this Manual

The chapters that follow expand upon the foregoing overview of the System. Chapter II explains the general formats of request and response records, and discusses the formats specific to each of the three types of student records. Chapter III discusses the batch processing aspects of the system. Chapters IV through IX go through each of the different major ways of transmitting records over FIRN2 and the period of local testing that follows user initiation. Chapter X addresses the issue of how to transmit FASTER transactions using Internet FTP. Chapter XII describes the software OAS has made available to the users, and Chapter XIII concludes the manual.

This manual describes every element and feature of the System. Since no one institution will use the entire System, no one will need to read the entire manual. Use the following as a guide to selecting those portions of the manual you will need to read:

1.

In Chapter II, everyone should read sections A through D. School districts should also read sections E, F, H, and K, and M, while postsecondary institutions should also read sections G, H, I, J, K, and M.

2.

Everyone should read all of Chapter III.

3.

Everyone should read Chapter IV. Then read chapter X.

4.

Everyone should read Chapters XII, and XIV.

5.

Chapter XIII should be read by institutions that conduct student record processing for themselves and on behalf of other institutions (as where the central institution of a consortium conducts student record transfers for the other institutions belonging to the consortium).

Requests for technical changes will be submitted to the Standing Committee on Student Records and Electronic Systems (STRES) of the Articulation Coordinating Committee, which is chaired by Steve Pritz, University Registrar, University of Florida (352/392-9163), e-mail:  spritz@ufl.edu

This committee meets annually to consider changes to the system. Urgent changes will be submitted to the committee during the year using e-mail or telephone conferencing. STRES members will have two weeks to consider a question, in the normal course of business.

Technical changes will be accepted if approved by a majority of the appropriate quorum of committee members. That is, if a change only affects school districts, the appropriate quorum is a majority of the school district members of the committee. If a change only affects postsecondary institutions, only postsecondary committee members are consulted. For system-wide changes, the quorum is a majority of the entire STRES membership.

The FASTER homepage (www.fldoe.org/faster/) allows the public access to the FASTER newsgroup, where all items of interest will be posted. If you have an e-mail address then you can join the FASTER listserve, also available on the FASTER homepage, to participate in discussion of FASTER problems, concerns and direction.

  D. Statutory Authority for FASTER

Specific Authority 1001.02(1), 1008-385(2), 229.551, 240.115(2) FS. Law Implemented 229.053(2)(c), 240.115(2), 240.203(2), 240.301, 240.325(3)(4) FS. History - New 7-13-83, Formerly 6A-10.242, Amended 1-4-94.

Under this authority, the State Board of Education promulgated rule 6A-10.024, FAC, which, in pertinent part, reads as follows:

(21) Standard transcript. The Articulation Coordinating Committee shall maintain a standard format for universities and state colleges to record the performance and credits of students. Each such transcript shall include all courses in which a student enrolls each term, the status in each course at the end of each term, all grades and credits awarded, College-Level Academic Skills Test scores, and a statement explaining the grading policy of the institution. The Articulation Coordinating Committee shall collaborate with the Division of Public Schools in the development of a standard format on which district school systems shall record the performance and credits of students.

(22) By December 1, 1991, the Department and all public universities, state colleges, and school districts shall have implemented the electronic exchange of student transcripts and associated educational records, including acquisition of and access to test scores of students, using the Florida Information Resource Network and following the procedures in the Florida Automated System for Transferring Educational Records section in "DOE Information Data Base Requirements: Volume I--Automated Student Information System," which is incorporated by reference in Rule 6A-1.0014, FAC.

(Note: State Board of Education Rules can be found at https://www.flrules.org/default.asp.)

The "DOE Information Data Base Requirements " can be found at http://www.fldoe.org/eias/dataweb/. After navigating to this URL, click on 2008-09 STUDENT INFORMATION SYSTEM. Then click on Requirements under INTRODUCTION and scroll down to the top of page A-2 which, in pertinent part, reads:

  1. 4. Automated state records transfer of postsecondary transcripts, permanent records and selected Category B information is to implemented by each school district using the procedures described in the Florida Automated System for Transferring Educational Records (F.A.S.T.E.R.) document provided by the Florida Department of Education.

The Florida Automated System for Transferring Educational Records (F.A.S.T.E.R.) document can be found at http://www.fldoe.org/faster/. After navigating to this URL, click on the latest version of the FASTER User Manual, which contains the records transfer procedures. Appendices H and I (scroll down the left side of the page) contain the records transfer formats, listing each data element that can be transferred. These appendices also indicate whether a data element is required or optional. Basically, the data elements with asterisks by their names are the required data elements.

Appendices U and V provide examples of the common printed transcript format.