(Frequently Asked Questions)
The following is a list of some frequently asked questions regarding NCES
What is the purpose of Handbooks Online?
The purpose of Handbooks Online is to provide a comprehensive listing of all
data elements that might be needed for decision making related to managing an
education system, reporting to state and federal education agencies, and
computing indicators of school effectiveness.
How often is Handbooks Online updated?
Handbooks Online is reviewed and updated annually. Each year when the Handbooks
Online is updated it is given a new version number. The current version number
of the Handbooks Online can be found at the bottom of each page. Suggestions for
revisions can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What if I want a print copy of a Domain?
You can get a PDF of any particular Domain or the entire Handbook on the
"Reports" section of this website at
What are the different Domains of Handbooks Online currently?
There are currently 7 Domains:
What kinds of users benefit from using Handbooks Online?
Public and private education agencies
State education agencies
Education software vendors
Members of the public interested in education information
Is Handbooks Online a data collection tool? Are all the data elements in Handbooks Online collected by the federal government?
No. Handbooks Online is not a data collection tool nor is it a list of all
data collected. It is a reference tool helpful in the creation of a data collection
instrument or data system.
Does Handbooks Online reflect federal data requirements?
No governmental agency requires the use of all of the terms and definitions
included in Handbooks Online; however, care has been taken to make sure that
the definitions are consistent with many governmental reporting requirements
at the time of publication. For example, items needed to submit the files necessary
for the EdFactís data collection are all included in the Handbooks Online.
How can we use this for our stateís data dictionary?
State education agencies (SEAs) can create and maintain handbook resources
with their own update cycles and data elements. To gain access to the Data
Dictionary Customization site, contact Ghedam Bairu of NCES at
email@example.com. To request
training on how to use the customization tool, contact Amanda Miller of CCSSO
How is the Handbooks Online related to the Forumís Data Model or
the Schools Interoperability Framework Association (SIFA)?
The Forumís Education Data Model is a detailed conceptual representation
of the education information domain. The model is a data inventory that uses
Handbooks Online terms and definitions. In the same way, SIFA uses the
Handbooks Online terms, definitions, and code sets to inform their specifications.
What is the difference in skill level between the easy and advanced
search tools available with Handbooks Online?
There are multiple ways to access the data elements and definitions on this website.
The user-friendly search tools can be used to find terms and definitions.
Drill-down menus can be useful for exploring content areas of interest. The
advanced search tools are intended for users who already know what they are looking
for and wish to download information.