Education agencies and institutions collect and maintain information to help the education system function efficiently and effectively. Standardized data that are readily available to education agency officials can:
The U.S. Department of Education has been involved in a number of efforts to improve the quality and comparability of data collected at the local, state, and national levels. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has taken the lead in many of these efforts. NCES has a mandate to collect "uniform and comparable data" in order to report on the condition of education in the United States. To assist in this mandate, NCES works with federal, state, and local education agency representatives and researchers to develop guidelines for the collection of comparable and complete data.
NCES developed the Handbooks Online to improve the consistency of data definitions and data maintenance, so that education data can be more accurately aggregated and analyzed. The Handbooks Online is intended to serve as a reference document for public and private education agencies, schools, early childhood centers, and other educational institutions, as well as for researchers involved in the collection of education data. In addition, the Handbooks Online may be useful to elected officials and members of the public who have an interest in education information. The Handbooks Online is not, however, a data collection instrument, nor does it reflect any type of federal data maintenance requirement.
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