To draw the school samples for the NAEP 2002 national main assessment, it was necessary to obtain a comprehensive list of public schools in each jurisdiction. For each school, useful information for stratification purposes, reliable information about grade span and enrollment, and accurate information for identifying the school to the state coordinator (district membership, name, address) were required. The Common Core of Data (CCD) file was used to construct the sampling frame. The version of the CCD file corresponded to the 1999–2000 school year. The CCD file provided the frame for all regular public schools, charter schools, state-operated public schools, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) schools, DDESS in the United States and its territories, and DoDDS that were open as of the 1999–2000 school year.
The sampling frame excluded all schools which were listed as closed, ungraded, vocational with no enrollment, provided only special education, or were parts of prisons and hospitals.
All schools at grade 4, grade 8, or both grades were sampled with certainty in those states and jurisdictions with small population school sizes.