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May 2010

From the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

NCES Collaborates on Common Data Standards Initiative

NCES is working with key stakeholders to develop standards for a core set of data elements to ensure that states create data systems that meet the goals of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. These stakeholders include representatives from states, districts, higher education organizations, and key non-profit organizations.

The Common Data Standards (CDS) Initiative is a national, collaborative effort to develop voluntary standards for a key subset of K–12 student and teacher variables (e.g., demographics, program participation, and course information) and K12-to-postsecondary education transition variables. The K–12 and higher education organizations currently use a variety of data "standards" that are either home grown or from state or national sources.

The CDS Initiative's goal is to identify key elements and agree upon standard definitions, code sets, business rules, and technical specifications for those variables. This will improve the efficiency of electronic exchange of student data across systems; the ability to transport data from one education institution to another; and the ability to compare performance measures across states, districts, and higher education organizations.

State and local K–12 education agencies and higher education organizations are building or expanding their data systems to meet the needs of

The first version of the CDS elements will be released in September. To learn more about the CDS Initiative and to provide feedback, go to or contact Nancy Smith, director of NCES' Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems Initiative, at