What is CEDS and how can universities use it?

This is where CEDS comes in. Information can be shared more easily if standard definitions, option sets and technical specifications agree, which is managed by the working groups that define and adjust the standards. Colleges and universities that use different definitions, option sets, or technical specifications will have a lot of work to do to make their data shareable.

However, the fallout from incompatible standards is far greater than a missed connection with a smartphone. This may mean leaving behind colleges and universities that don’t have the staff, time, or means to adjust data to a different format for whatever analytical purpose a tool, agency, or collaborator is seeking.

“The consequence is being left out and seeing technology inadvertently driving politics, and that’s why CEDS is so important,” Sessa says. “You say standards are anti-competitive, and they should be, because everyone needs a seat at the table.”

How does CEDS help institutions manage their data?

One of the most important evolutions that the CEDS has made in recent years is to move from not only setting standards, but also from sharing tools to simplify the work of higher education institutions.

CEDS now offers three tools on its website – Align, Connect and myConnect – and all three help colleges and universities adopt the standards and provide insight into some of the data shared by participating CEDS institutions.

Align helps users align their data elements with standards. Connect helps users answer policy questions and comply with reporting requirements. And myConnect gives colleges and universities the ability to see their data elements alongside published data.

LEARN MORE: Learn how data can improve faculty and student retention in higher education.

CEDS itself, Santy says, does not collect any student-level data. Instead, it compiles what it calls “high-level aggregates” as part of the Postsecondary Education Integrated Data System. This data includes, for example, enrollment data broken down by demographic categories, the number of applications a college or university receives and accepts, etc.

“It’s all of these miscellaneous things that, from a public transparency and program and policy reporting perspective, have been deemed necessary for specific purposes or just beneficial to the country, like graduation rates and metrics. results,” explains Santy. “But they’re all at the aggregate level.”

How can your establishment get started?

Since CEDS is a voluntary program, no institution should participate. But, as Santy, Sessa and others position, the ambition of CEDS is to be a useful tool that can avoid other headaches down the road by normalizing data.

In the spirit of sharing this data and standards for widespread adoption, the standards are now available via open source sharing on GitHub, which Santy says is in keeping with the spirit of the “come one, come one all” of his department to develop them.

Although the working groups are no longer the only part of CEDS, they still function, and the most recent working group attracted over 70 participants, a more than threefold increase since the early days.

Colleges and universities wishing to participate in CEDS should ensure that they have sufficient data storage to ensure information security and that they have a properly powered and cooled data center.

More information and access to all CEDS tools can be found at ceds.ed.gov.