Common Data Set
The Common Data Set Initiative is a collaborative effort between publishers and the educational community to improve the quality and accuracy of information provided to all involved in a student's transition into higher education. As well, the use of common indicators with commonly accepted definitions reduce the burden on colleges of compiling and reporting information. The common data set also provides a means for institutional comparisons for external constituents. Questions and definitions used by the U.S. Department of Education serve as a guide in the development of the Common Data Set items.
The Common Data Set is a set of standards and definitions of data items rather than a survey instrument. Higher education surveys conducted by various publishers such as Peterson's, the College Board, and U.S. News & World Report, all incorporate items from the common data set as well as unique items proprietary to each publisher. Publishers' surveys typically differ in the items reported from the common data set.
Common Data Set Survey