Common Education Data Standards

Speaking the Same Language: Common Data for Districts and States

We found that many districts and states want to model student achievement growth to evaluate the impacts of teachers, schools, or programs, but it takes a lot of precious time and budget. This can be onerous, especially for smaller school districts.

How can this be made faster and cheaper without cutting corners?

The solution lies in attacking the most time-consuming, expensive part of the process: cleaning and preparing the data. The primary cost driver for school district or state education agency data analytics is translating data from native data systems that are designed for administrative record-keeping and compliance into clean files ready for statistical analysis.

With all of the initiatives to develop state longitudinal data systems, there is still a dizzying variety in the file layouts, data naming conventions, and data logic used to store and track education information. However, there are promising efforts aimed at creating data standards to get as many stakeholders as possible speaking the same language. Adopters of these standards can benefit from a large community of open-source developers and tools.

Common Education Data Standards
Common Education Data Standards

Educators need certain types of data to understand, compare, and exchange information in an accurate, timely, and consistent manner. The Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) meet these needs. This voluntary national initiative, led by the National Center for Education Statistics, is a collaborative effort that taps federal and national data sources, as well as best practices from states, districts, and institutions of higher education. In short, CEDS aims to create a common vocabulary or language for education data.

The Ed-Fi Alliance

To date, many states have created complex, proprietary, and expensive data systems to meet their unique requirements. But a new, free open-source solution—the Ed-Fi Alliance—enables states and districts to integrate and share their data to help improve student outcomes. Developed by the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation with input from all stakeholders, the Alliance standards are the product of collaboration between educators, vendors, and technology experts. These standards allow different state systems to “speak” to one another and simplify product integration.

Data Help from the Ed Impact Lab

Mathematica Educator Impact LaboratoryAt the Ed Impact Lab, our experts can help states and districts leverage Ed-Fi Alliance and CEDS tools and resources to enhance their effectiveness. For example, we can help districts and states understand the Ed Fi data model, use Ed Fi technology to validate and analyze their data for use in growth modeling and program evaluation, and apply Ed Fi tools to visualize data and drive decisions.