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Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts: School Year 2006–07 (Fiscal Year 2007)
NCES 2009-338
July 2009

Appendix A: Methodology and Technical Notes

Common Core of Data survey system.

The State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/Secondary Education, the Local Education Agency Universe Survey, and the Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey are the nonfiscal components of the Common Core of Data (CCD) survey system, while the School District Finance Survey (F-33) and the National Public Education Financial Survey (NPEFS) are the fiscal components. The Teacher Compensation Survey (TCS) became part of CCD in 2007. The three finance surveys are reported annually by state education agencies (SEAs) through the efforts of state CCD coordinators. Participation in the CCD is voluntary. All states and the District of Columbia reported in the fiscal year (FY) 2007 F-33.

Data for CCD finance surveys are collected from SEAs through an online reporting system. They are then processed, edited, and verified by the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), and the Education Statistics Services Institute (ESSI) of the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The FY 07 CCD F-33 collection opened on February 1, 2008 and closed on October 1, 2008.

Data quality.

Staff at NCES, the U.S. Census Bureau, and ESSI collaborate to edit all CCD data submissions and ask state CCD coordinators to correct or confirm any numbers that appear out of range when compared with other states' data or with the state's reports in previous years. If no explanation for anomalous data is provided by the state, NCES will attempt to correct or adjust the data value (e.g., NCES will replace a reported total with the sum of detail in cases where the sum of detail exceeds a reported total).

Fifth, median, and 95th percentile cutpoints.

The 5th percentile is a value such that 5 percent of the observations are less than this value and that 95 percent are greater. The 95th percentile is a value such that 95 percent of the observations are less than this value and that 5 percent are greater. The 5th and 95th percentile cutpoints have been chosen to exclude any outlier data. A median is a number dividing the higher half of a population from the lower half. The median can be found by arranging all the observations from lowest value to highest value and picking the middle one.

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Missing data.

When reporting totals for a state, if information is missing for more than 20 percent of the school districts, NCES suppresses the totals for that state. When reporting national totals, if information is missing for more than 15 percent of the school districts, NCES suppresses the national totals; if information is missing for no more than 15 percent of the school districts, NCES calculates totals and identifies them as "reporting states" totals (rather than totals for the United States). A "reporting states" total is calculated for federal revenues by program in table 8 in this report, because not all the 50 states and the District of Columbia reported all the specific federal revenues in FY 07. The missing federal revenues are included in "other and unspecified revenues through state" and/or "other revenues direct to school districts" categories.

The federal revenue data collected on the F-33 are supplemented with data collected from the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) data collection. The GEPA survey collects data on federal revenues directly from school districts, and is conducted every other year. In order to determine whether a zero response on the FY 07 F-33 is missing or not applicable, the data were compared to the FY 04 F-33 data file, the last year for which GEPA adjustments were made. If a specific federal revenue item for a district is zero on the FY 07 F-33, NCES looked at the same item and district on the FY 04 F-33. If the FY 04 F-33 showed the item as zero, then it was assumed to be not applicable for FY 07. If a value greater than zero was found for the item on the FY 04 F-33, then the item was assumed to be missing for FY 07. This information was used to determine if data should be suppressed in table 8.

District-level analyses of fiscal data.

Regular school districts included in tables 1 through 6 in this report

  • are listed in the CCD Local Education Agency Universe Survey file for school year 2006-07;
  • provide instruction and other education services and do not focus primarily on special education or vocational education; and
  • have student membership greater than zero (because per pupil dollar amounts can not be calculated if a district has zero enrollment).

Charter schools that are not affiliated with a regular school district are treated separately from regular school districts in tables 1 through 6. To be included, these independent charter school districts must be listed in the CCD Local Education Agency Universe Survey file for school year 2006-07, have students, and report revenues and expenditures greater than zero.

Comparability of fiscal data across states.

Because the District of Columbia is a single urban district, it is often an outlier in comparisons of revenues and expenditures, with larger revenues and expenditures per student than the median school district in other states. Similarly, Hawaii is a single school district and funds public education primarily through state taxes. Because of this, Hawaii's data may pose problems of comparability similar to those of the District of Columbia.

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Comparing expenditures across districts.

District-level analyses and comparisons can be complicated by the variety of administrative structures that exist across the nation in regular school districts. States such as Florida, Maryland, Nevada, and West Virginia have large districts that are coterminous with counties and encompass all levels and types of public schools. School districts in other states may exist in small communities with only one school or in larger communities where all elementary schools are in one school district and all secondary schools are in another. In some states, all special education schools are administered by a few specific districts; in other states, each district may have all kinds of schools and programs. This variety in the types of school districts makes it difficult to compare expenditures across school districts. In seven states, Arizona, California, Illinois, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Vermont, less than half of the school districts are unified (i.e., districts that provide both elementary and secondary education services and instruction) (table 4). In two states, Montana and Vermont, less than half of the students attend schools in unified districts.

Total expenditures.

Total expenditures in this report are different from the data item for total expenditures (TOTALEXP) in the F-33 data file. Total expenditures in this report exclude payments to private and charter schools, while TOTALEXP in the F-33 data file includes those payments.

Total current expenditures.

Total current expenditures in this report are different from the data item for total current expenditures (TCURELSC) in the F-33 data file. Total current expenditures in this report exclude payments to private and charter schools, while TCURELSC in the F-33 data file includes those payments.

Federal range ratio.

The federal range ratio is used in this report as an indicator of the difference between districts with relatively high revenues (or expenditures) per pupil and districts with relatively low revenues (or expenditures) per pupil. As used by Berne and Stiefel (1984) and in previous NCES publications (Parish, Matsumoto, and Fowler 1995; Hussar and Sonnenberg 2000), the federal range ratio excludes the top and bottom 5 percent of districts in order to reduce the influence of extreme values. The federal range ratio is the difference between the amount per pupil of the district at the 95th percentile and the district at the 5th percentile divided by the amount for the district at the 5th percentile.

Fiscal years.

The fiscal year begins on July 1 and ends on June 30 for most states. The fiscal year for Alabama runs from October 1 through September 30, and the fiscal year for Nebraska and Texas runs from September 1 through August 31. The F-33 data are not adjusted to conform to a uniform fiscal year across states.

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