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The History of CEDS

The Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) is an education data management initiative whose purpose is to streamline the understanding of data within and across P20W institutions and sectors. The CEDS initiative includes a common vocabulary, data models that reflect that vocabulary, tools to help education stakeholders understand and use education data, an assembly of metadata for other education data initiatives, and a community of education stakeholders collaborate to expand the standard and implement CEDS-based solutions.

Why CEDS was Started

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) heard strong interest in, and some concern about, data standards from state education agencies (SEAs) that were creating statewide longitudinal data systems (SLDSs), national organizations, and other federal offices. In fall 2009, NCES established a technical working group to develop voluntary common standards and help SEAs improve data quality. They established the group under the Director’s Expert Guidance and Assistance clause in the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA) for the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), and it was constituted under the authority of the Director of IES to convene (ESRA Sec. 114(g)). This group developed the first version of CEDS, which was released in the Fall of 2010.

Early Development of CEDS

Input from a CEDS Stakeholder Group (including representatives from across the P-20W field) and open meetings and conversations informed early versions of CEDS. CEDS Align, Connect, and myConnect tools were also developed during this time. These tools allow users to directly interact with the standard in different ways depending on their need. The CEDS data models were also developed during this time, including the logical and normalized data models. The open CEDS Communities of Practice and an open source community were created in 2015 and 2019, respectively, which modernized the stakeholder driven standards development process by allowing anyone to participate synchronously and asynchronously in the process.

NCES Handbooks

NCES developed the Handbooks in the 1970s to improve the consistency of data definitions and maintenance so that education data could be more accurately aggregated and analyzed. The Handbooks were intended to serve as reference documents for K-12 public and private education agencies, schools, early childhood centers, as well as for researchers involved in the collection of education data. CEDS incorporated the work of the NCES Handbooks in its development, and any Handbook elements that were not brought into CEDS still remain in CEDS Extend. Read more information on the NCES Handbooks.

The Assessment Interoperability Framework (AIF)

CEDS added items to support the assessment systems being developed in support of Race to the Top in 2012. These were developed in conjunction with Access 4 Learning (A4L) Community, IMS Global Learning Consortium, the Race to the Top Assessment Consortia, states not involved in a consortium, and assessment consortia focused on students with severe cognitive disabilities. This work included data elements supporting educational technology and assessment standards that can be used by any assessment implementation providers. Read more information about AIF.

Engaging the Field

The development of CEDS from Version 1 through today has been informed by many other initiatives that define applicable data standards, implement data standards, or define the environment in which data standards can be used. For example, CEDS includes elements developed by the National Forum on Education Statistics and has developed new areas based on recommendations from Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) working groups. CEDS also includes items necessary for relevant federal reporting such as EDFacts, the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). CEDS staff also actively participate in the work and meetings of other initiatives, such as organizations focusing on interoperability at the different levels of education, standards for specific parts of education such as learning resources, and broader standards work that goes beyond education but has an impact on education standards.

Common Education Data Standards