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Required education data reporting can be a lengthy, labor-intensive, and complicated task for state education agencies.

This blog post was co-authored by Nancy Copa.

To help with the heavy lifting, Generate, a freely available application, can be used to automate compliance education data reporting to the US Department of Education.

Based on a comprehensive data standard, the Common Education Data Standards, Generate makes education data reporting simpler and helps align education reporting data to the standard for increased usability. Before going further into how Generate helps promote meaningful data, let’s discuss this standard in more detail.

The birth of CEDS

In the 2000s, the education data space saw the emergence of several data standards, each with their own purpose or focus. Some were for K-12 data only. Some were for data storage. Some were for data transport. All were unique. The existence of several data standards weakened the purpose of having a data standard at all and made education data management and system design confusing and complicated—a less than ideal situation.

As a result, in 2009, education data organizations came together to discuss the evolution of a stakeholder-driven P-20W (preschool, K-12, post-secondary, and workforce) data standard that could drive the future of education data. That standard became known as the Common Education Data Standards, or CEDS.

CEDS is an education data management initiative whose purpose is to streamline the understanding of data within and across P-20W institutions and sectors. The CEDS initiative includes a common vocabulary, data model that reflects that vocabulary, tools to help education data stakeholders understand and use data, an assembly of metadata from other education data initiatives, and a community of education data stakeholders who discuss the uses of CEDS and the development of the standard.

Read related blog post: CEDS: Not Just Another Education Acronym

CEDS also introduced a metadata management tool, Align, to allow education stakeholders to map their data systems to the CEDS elements, and a use case documentation tool, Connect, to operationalize metrics, reporting requirements and research requests. This provided state education agencies (SEAs) and other users the ability to further their conversations around linking, integrating, and using the data.

The span of information being aligned in CEDS has expanded with each new version. Over ten years, CEDS grew from 161 K-12 elements to 1,710 elements. Elements span the full education spectrum of P-20W and cover areas such as students, staff, career and technical education, adult education, assessments, learning resources, competency frameworks, and credentials/licenses.

Between 2012 and 2016, 54 states and territories created 570 maps in Align to map their data system to CEDS. But they were mapping systems that touched less than 20% of what CEDS has to offer.

Generate enhances CEDS with automated, standard data reporting.

Enter Generate. Generate is a freely available application based on CEDS that was originally designed and developed by the Center for the Integration of IDEA Data (CIID) to help states fully integrate their data in a way that reduces burden, increases efficiency, and improves overall data quality, including for federal reporting.

Generate is a state-driven and managed solution that automates and standardizes data reporting processes, streamlines the reporting process, and helps states and territories to leverage the CEDS data model. State alignment to the CEDS data model does not change unique state data but use of the model and implementation of Generate does enable and empower states to improve data quality and data systems efficiency.

CIID provides technical assistance to state education agencies to increase the capacity to report high quality data required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B Sections 616 and 618. CIID supports the integration of IDEA data systems and processes with the Statewide Longitudinal Data System.

Originally, CIID developed Generate just for IDEA reporting, but the demand for Generate across all state education data reporting resulted in further development of the application to cover all 80 EDFacts files for complete reporting support.

Now that states have the standardized infrastructure based on CEDS, Generate is growing into much more. The proliferation of Generate implementations across the nation has exponentially increased the alignment to and adoption of CEDS elements in state education agencies. 

Now data within and across states is more understandable and comparable, aligned to CEDS.

Data elements aligned to CEDS

With the implementation of Generate in 12 states, 10 states preparing to implement, and 28 expressed an interest, now more than 2,500 education stakeholders in 49 states and 3 territories are taking advantage of CEDS resources to implement best practices in data transparency, collection, storage, and use.

Generate is sweeping the nation and propelling CEDS along with it. 

The future of education data and data-driven outcomes

Thanks to the commitment and tireless efforts at the local, state, and regional levels to advance effective and streamlined reporting, we are closer than ever to a world where all education data is meaningful, available, and secure. As we move past this milestone, we look forward to seeing what new efficiencies and insights educators discover with this data.

As AEM’s education data management experts, we are advancing a vision for a modern, streamlined, and highly-informed education data ecosystem. We lead the coalition of federal and state agencies, foundations, and nonprofits effecting this change by offering expertise and capacity-building support to advance this effort and by building innovative IT tools. Learn more about us here and don’t hesitate to reach out to us any time.


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How Generate Advances Common Education Data Standards

This blog post was co-authored by Nancy Copa.

To help with the heavy lifting, Generate, a freely available application, can be used to automate compliance education data reporting to the US Department of Education.