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The Common Data Set (CDS) is a set of data provided by an institution in a common manner with a standard set of data definitions used in the higher education community and by publishers as represented by the College Board, Peterson's, and U.S. News & World Report . The combined goal of this collaboration initiative is to improve the quality and accuracy of information provided to all involved in a student's transition into higher education, as well as to reduce the reporting burden on data providers.
Data items and definitions used by the U.S. Department of Education in its higher education surveys often serve as a guide in the continued development of the CDS. Common Data Set items undergo broad review by the CDS Advisory Board as well as by data providers representing secondary schools and two- and four-year colleges. Feedback from those who utilize the CDS also is considered throughout an annual review process.
The CDS is a set of standards and definitions of data items rather than a survey instrument or set of data represented in a database. Each of the higher education surveys conducted by the participating publishers incorporates items from the CDS as well as unique items proprietary to each publisher. Consequently, the publishers' surveys differ in that they utilize varying numbers of items from the CDS.
The Common Data Sets submitted to the CDS Initiative by academic year are at the links below: