Project planning has begun and resources have been assigned, so it is time to begin
mapping. These activities will require the most effort and time. The more elements,
definitions, and option sets you have to map, the more time it will take. The entire
process could last anywhere from 1-4 weeks. If you completed a scope document, build
your estimate off of the number of elements to be mapped. The image below outlines
the normal processes involved in mapping. Select a step within the image from the
top row to learn more about that step.
Collect Data Sources
The mapping process begins with identification of the data system(s) to be mapped.
Maps are data dictionaries that have been imported or inputted into CEDS. Data dictionaries
contain elements, names, definitions, data types, and option sets for data sources.
When determining the data source(s) you want to map, consider the purpose of the
mapping process. When multiple data sources are going to be mapped, determine if
the desired result is (1) a consolidated list of all data elements or (2) a list
of common elements across data sources. If the former is the goal, a single map
should be created with naming conventions determining the data source. If the latter
is the goal, multiple maps (one for each data source) should be created so that
reports across maps can be generated.
Careful thought should be given when determining definitions for elements and option
sets. In situations where the definitions are not defined, consider conducting a
review of the definitions and option sets available in the related CEDS elements.
To search for CEDS data definitions, see the CEDS Elements
page. To search through a repository of data definitions from other efforts, see
The Status of State
Train on the Mapping Process
Provide training opportunities.
Format Data Dictionaries for Uploading to Align
The next step in the process of mapping is to populate Align with the data dictionary
information. To do this, the information can be entered manually or uploaded via
an Excel file.
Manually entering the information requires data entry for each individual element.
For elements to be grouped together, the System Name/Database Name/Table Name must
contain the exact same spelling for each element.
To upload data dictionary information via an Excel file, the elements are listed
with one row for each element. Elements with an option set will have one row for
each code in the option set. A template is available on the Upload Map Elements
page within your map.
Regardless of which method is chosen, gather as much information as possible about
each individual element. Potential information includes:
- where the element resides in the system
- the element definition
- the element data type
- the element length
- the element option set and definitions
Upload to Align
Here are some tips for uploading the data dictionary as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.
- Ensure the proper letter case (sentence case versus upper case) for each field and
modify when necessary.
- Ensure separate columns for each field. For example, if data received included a
table name and element name in one column, then the information needs to be separated
into two columns.
- Ensure that the codes and definitions for any option sets are listed on separate
rows. For example, for gender, “M” and “Male” would appear on one row, with “F”
and “Female” on a second row.
- Ensure that the size of your upload file is not greater than 4 MB. If it is greater
than 4 MB, consider breaking the information into several tabs and uploading each
tab separately. Remember to copy the column names onto each tab.
Align to CEDS Elements
Once all the information about the data source has been added to the Align map,
the next step is to align each map element to one or more CEDS elements.
To do this, each map element is reviewed for context. Contextual clues include the
element’s location in the data source, the element name, and the element definition.
This information helps determine the appropriate CEDS element to which the map element
will be aligned. Below are some tips for aligning
elements to CEDS. Also see
Alignment to CEDS Elements for a comprehensive guide through the alignment
process, or view Align Tutorials for step-by-step
- Narrow searches by selecting a domain.
- If the data system being mapped does not have definitions, you MUST select "No element
definition available in the stakeholder data dictionary."
Even if you understand the intent, the definition is not there, so you should only
select this option.
- Look for multiple CEDS elements that might align to a single element in your system:
Student ID in your system = Student Identifier + Student
Identification System in CEDS
- For elements that include "…Identification System" we generally align the definition
by saying it is related at a concept level. The "Identifier" element is generally
the more closely aligned element.
- When mapping "race/ethnic" elements, consider all 7 CEDS elements (this includes
the element Demographic Race Two or More Races).
- If no CEDS element matches, select "Element Could
Not Be Located in CEDS" at the top.
Review CEDS Reports for Quality Assurance
Never skip or postpone quality assurance (QA) activities. It is important to thoroughly
review the work to ensure the mapping is complete and accurate. Consider assigning
quality assurance activities to someone other than the person that aligned the map.
Once all elements have been aligned, take advantage of the reports specifically
created for QA and validation of maps in Align to ensure
that each alignment was completed to the extent possible. Four of the CEDS reports
were designed for QA activities:
- Elements with Unfinished Alignment
Users should run the report "Elements with Unfinished Alignment" to ensure that
no elements were missed during the alignment process. This report provides a list
of all map elements that do not have one or more CEDS elements aligned or are not
marked "Element Could Not Be Located in CEDS."
- CEDS Elements with No Alignment
Users should run the report "CEDS Elements with No Alignment" to ensure that no
possible CEDS elements were missed during the alignment process. For this report,
the tool first looks at the domain of the map (domains are chosen during map creation,
where choices are Early Learning, K12, Postsecondary, Career and Technical Education,
Adult Education, Workforce, Assessments, P-20, Other). Then the system looks through
all elements in the same CEDS domain as the map and provides a report of any CEDS
elements not aligned to the map elements.
To avoid the entire list of CEDS elements being returned, deselect "All CEDS Elements,"
then select only the Domains, Entities, and/or Elements you want to review.
- Data Dictionary Only
If multiple maps are created, a helpful check for consistency is to run the "Data
Dictionary Only" report across all of the maps. This report will display elements
across the maps that were aligned to the same CEDS element. The user can quickly
see if an element was aligned incorrectly.
- Validate Consistency
Users should run the "Validate Consistency" report to check the consistency of the
alignment of elements that have multiple instances within a map. This report searches
for multiple instances of the same element name and multiple instances of the same
element ID. If multiple instances of the same element name are identified, but the
elements were not aligned exactly the same, the report will display those elements
to the user for review/correction. The same situation occurs with the element ID,
only the system is looking for multiple instances of the same element ID instead
of the element name. In addition to accessing this report from the locations noted
above, it can be found via the "Manage Map | Data Elements" screen.
These reports can be accessed through EXPLORE Map-based
Reports or MANAGE Maps (available only when logged in) within Align.
Quality assurance and validation of the maps can occur by either reviewing in Align
or Excel. Regardless of which option is selected, a comparison against each report
If using Align, the map to be reviewed would be selected and a review of the individual
elements would be done using the reports discussed in Review CEDS Reports for comparison.
Any changes that need to be made based on the review would be done in Align.
If using Excel, the Data Dictionary + CEDS Alignment report should be run and downloaded
into Excel. Then, each report would be run and compared to the Data Dictionary +
CEDS Alignment report. Any changes that need to be made based on the review would
be done in Align.
Once the Alignment has been validated and passed QA, the Map information should
be reviewed and finalized in preparation for sharing. From Align | Build | Manage
Maps, select the map and review/update the information in Map Administration. From
Map Administration | Map Information, review the information and update as needed.
Change the Map Status from “Draft” to “Complete.” From Map Administration | Manage
User Access, review the people assigned to the map, as well as their roles, and
adjust or change as needed.
After the validation of the Map is complete, share the map by choosing “Share Map”
from the Using the Map menu. Sharing the map provides greater access throughout
the site and enables a comparison to other shared maps across states, sectors, or
a state’s own data systems.
A map can be shared with some users or with all. Sharing a map with some users allows
you to specify the person(s) with whom the map should be shared. Sharing a map with
all allows you to share the map with anyone.