NCES developed the Handbooks Online in the 1970s to improve the consistency of data definitions and data maintenance, so that education data can be more accurately aggregated and analyzed. The Handbooks were intended to serve as a reference document for K-12 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. The Handbooks Online was neither a data collection instrument nor did it reflect any type of federal data maintenance requirement.
To facilitate the growing demand for the incorporation of data definitions from multiple efforts in one place, the NCES Handbook elements have been moved to the CEDS website. The CEDS website has now expanded to include the elements of the NCES Handbooks into Extend, a searchable database of elements.
The Handbook elements that overlap with CEDS are part of the CEDS search functions and tools. The Handbook elements that are not the same as CEDS are now included in Extend and can be accessed in four different ways: