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Mapping Toolkit
Have you been assigned the task of mapping your data elements to CEDS? Are you unsure how
to get started? The Mapping Toolkit will provide you resources to help.
Mapping projects can vary from the complex to the simple. However, most projects can be completed in 4-6 weeks by taking advantage of the resources and templates available in the Mapping Toolkit. Select a book title to access tips and documentation related to mapping activities.

Preparing for the Mapping Project

Book II Identify and Assign Resources

Book II Plan Ahea

Book IV Mapping, Quality, Assurance, Validation and Sharing

Book I: Preparing for the Mapping Project

All projects call for planning, execution, quality control, and closure. Applying project management to the mapping activities improves the chances for success. The time it takes to plan for a mapping project will vary depending on scope, but 1-2 weeks is generally adequate preparation time.

The following templates are available to help manage the mapping project and reduce the preparation time.

Book II: Identify and Assign Resources

The Project Plan template in Book I provides examples of tasks and resource types for completing a mapping project. An individual staff member may fulfill multiple roles. Identifying and assigning roles for the mapping process can be accomplished in 1-2 days. The most prominent roles in a mapping project are:

  • CEDS Coordinator – This person oversees the mapping project. The CEDS Coordinator page provides an overview of the roles and responsibilities of a CEDS Coordinator. This role is typically involved in the planning and execution of mapping activities.
  • Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) – This person(s) will align elements to CEDS and conduct quality assurance activities. Examples of SMEs that may participate in this project are:
    • Information Technology personnel who have access to databases and can locate the metadata necessary for alignment (element names, definitions, data types, and permitted values).
    • Data Stewards, data owners, and those responsible for the data, or those with an extensive knowledge of the data to conduct quality assurance and validation activities.
  • SME Program Manager – This person provides oversight of the work performed by the program staff related to identifying, defining, and mapping data elements.
  • Program Staff – This person(s) is responsible for assisting with the tasks involved in the mapping process. In cases where an SME is assigned as a reviewer, the program staff person would do the mapping work.
  • Reviewers – This person(s) completes the Quality Assurance (QA) activities following the mapping process. Data Stewards may be selected for this role because they know the data and are excellent resources for spotting anomalies or inconsistencies.

Book III: Preparing Resources

Avoid possible delays in the mapping project by planning ahead and mitigating them before they occur. The time it takes for these activities will vary depending on the number of resources assigned and the type of training needed. Allow up to 2 weeks if requesting CEDS assistance for training; otherwise, allow 2-4 days for resources to review and familiarize themselves with the CEDS tutorials. The following are mitigation activities that can keep the project moving ahead.

Whether or not you use the Map Assignment Tracking & Validation Worksheet template, it is important to assign resources to maps as soon as possible. When the resources have been determined, the following steps can help with implementing the project:

  • Provide training opportunities.
  • Create logins to CEDS as soon as resources are assigned, and verify that they work. To create a login, you need the person’s name and email address. CEDS will provide email notification that the account has been created. The person must activate the account via the link in the email.
  • Consider that resources have other responsibilities besides mapping. Schedule dedicated time for the alignment activities when it is least disruptive to the resources, such as times that fall outside of the collection and reporting windows.

Book IV: Mapping, Quality Assurance, Validation, and Sharing

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.

  • The Mapping Process:

    Mapping Process Workflow
    Collect Data Sources Train on the Mapping Process Format Dictionaries for Loading Upload to Align Align to CEDS Elements Review CEDS Reports for Quality Assurance Finalize Map Share Map

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 CEDS Extend.

Additional resources:

The Status of State Data Dictionaries

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 instructions.

  • 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.

Finalize Map

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 should occur.

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.

Share Map

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.

Common Education Data Standards