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Common Data Set

The Common Data Set (CDS) initiative is a collaborative effort among data providers in the higher education community and various publishers (The College Board, Peterson's - a Thomson Learning Company, U.S. News & World Report, and Wintergreen/Orchard House). The purpose of this collaboration is to improve the quality and accuracy of various types of information reported. In addition, it aims to reduce the reporting burden on data providers.

The CDS involves the development of clear, standard data items as well as definitions to determine a specific cohort relevant to each item. Often, data items and definitions used by the U.S. Department of Education in its higher education surveys serve as a guide in the development of the CDS. Furthermore, 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.

As indicated by the Common Dataset Initiative, it is important to recognize that the CDS is actually a set of data item standards and definitions and not a survey instrument or a set of data represented in a database. As such, the CDS survey items have been strictly defined to collect common or comparable data from colleges and universities.

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