Implementing the Common Education Data Standard Series – 3

Components of the Common Education Data Standards
Gary West

Version 2 of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS; was released in January 2012.  CEDS components include the following:

  • Data Dictionary:  The data dictionary for CEDS contains about 750 data elements (in Version 2) that have been identified as essential for meeting the data goals of early learning agencies, SEAs, and institutions of higher education.  (Two-thirds of those elements address K-12 data needs.)  The data dictionary includes the definitions of the identified elements, the values that those elements may display, and other attributes that are required to provide context and meaning across the domains in which the elements would be used.For example, the gender of a person may be represented by a data element named “Sex.”  The appropriate values for Sex might be “M,” “F,” and “O.”  The first two values represent “Male” and “Female,” which are the standard Sex attributes in most K-12 records.  The third value is necessary because postsecondary datasets also allow a value representing “Other” or “Unknown.”  For the element “Sex” to be standard across all education domains, its value set would allow the three options.The data dictionary can be accessed at
  • Logical Data Model:  A logical data model describes the relationships of the data elements within individual records that might be stored as part of datasets.  The relationship among data elements is important so users of the data can know which elements are related to which types of records.For example, a student record might contain several data elements, such as last name, first name, middle name, birthdate, sex, school name, grade level, and many more elements.  The logical data model, associated with CEDS, will identify the related elements and define the relationships.Information about the logical data model can be found at
  • Data Alignment Tool and Other Tools: A Data Alignment Tool was released with CEDS 2.0 at the end of January 2012.  That tool will help each SEA identify the elements within existing datasets and systems that align with the elements in CEDS 2.0.  Through the alignment tool, the SEA can identify which of its existing data elements are perfectly “mapped” to CEDS 2.0 elements, which existing elements are not mapped to CEDS 2.0 elements, and which CEDS 2.0 elements do not exist in the SEA’s existing datasets and systems.The Data Alignment Tool requires a user ID and password.  SEA staff can register or login to the Data Alignment Tool at tools were released during Spring 2012.  More information can be found on the CEDS website (
  • XML Schema:  An XML schema for CEDS was released in early Spring 2012, as well.  That schema describes the format in which the actual SEA data may be stored so that it can be imported into and used by other types of databases, data systems, and applications.  The XML schema can be downloaded from  In addition, you can download SQL scripts that can help build a normalized database for CEDS from   

Version 3 of the Common Education Data Standards is currently being created, expanding on the existing Version 2, and is scheduled for release in January 2013.  Version 3 will include more elements that can be used to inform teaching and learning, connect to workforce datasets, integrate elements from other education data standards and data models.

Newer versions of the Common Education Data Standards will not require that you modify your existing statewide longitudinal data system or other original datasets.  Newer versions will require only that you update your ETL application to include new elements and appropriate values and you add the appropriate elements to the structure of your operational data store (ODS).  CEDS is designed to offer an easy way to upgrade when new versions are released.

Gary West; April 30, 2012; [email protected]

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