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Survey Report:

Key Statistics on Public Elementary and Secondary Schools and Agencies: School Year 1993-94

September 1997

(NCES 97-528) Ordering information


This report describes the organization, students, and staff and financial resources of public elementary and secondary education in the United States during the 1993-94 school year. The purpose is to provide an overview of these institutions in a convenient format for general use. The information is drawn from the Common Core of Data (CCD) survey system. The CCD consists of data voluntarily provided each year by the education agencies of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and five outlying areas.\1\ The survey system includes the CCD School Universe and Public Education Agency Universe, as well as the State Nonfiscal Survey and the National Public Education Financial Survey, which report information aggregated to the state level. While the school and education agency universes are the focus of this report, the two state-level CCD surveys and financial data from the U.S. Bureau of Census F-33 Survey of Local Governments provide some of the information.

School and Agency Surveys

Contents of the School Survey. The CCD School Universe includes more than 85,000 public schools. The organizing principle behind the CCD Universes is that of administrative structure. To be considered a school, an institution must be linked with an education agency, serve students, and have an administrator. Thus it is possible for more than one CCD-defined school to exist at a single location (for example, an elementary and secondary school may share a building although each has its own principal). Or, one school may be spread across several locations. (Multiple "store front" learning centers managed by a single administrator would be an example of this latter condition.)

Schools are classified on the CCD by type. Regular schools provide instruction that leads ultimately toward a standard high school diploma, and also may offer a range of specialized services. Special education and vocational schools have the provision of these specialized offerings as their primary purpose; similarly, other alternative schools focus on an instructional area not covered by the first three types. An alternative school might, for example, be established to develop the basic language and numeracy skills of adolescents at risk of dropping out of school.

Some schools do not report any students in membership (that is, on the rolls the on the October 1 official CCD reporting day). This occurs when students are enrolled in more than one school, but are reported for only one. For example, students whose instruction is divided between a regular and a vocational school may be reported only in membership for the vocational school. In other cases, a school may send the students for which it is responsible to another school for their education. This situation is most likely in a small community that does not have sufficient students to warrant keeping a school open every year.

The mailing address and telephone number of each school are listed, and every school is given a "locale code" that places its location on a population continuum ranging from central city to rural. Schools are identified as regular or as focusing on a special area such as vocational education. The School Universe reports the numbers of students for every grade taught in the school, the total number of students in each of five racial/ethnic groups, the number of students eligible for free lunch, and the number of teachers.\2\

Contents of the Agency Survey. The CCD Agency Universe serves as a directory of basic information about almost 15,000 public education agencies. Education agencies are defined by having responsibility for, or providing specialized services to, one or more schools. The education agencies are categorized as those that are locally administered and directly responsible for educating children (referred to as regular school districts in this report), or as other public education agencies. The other agencies are further distinguished as supervisory unions, which often provide administrative systems for smaller regular districts associated with them; regional education service agencies that may offer research, data processing, special education or vocational program management, or other services to a number of client school districts; and school districts operated by the state, federal government, or of some type other than those defined by the preceding categories.

A regular school district may report no students in membership. In some years a very small district may not have any students. In other cases, a district may send the children for which it is responsible to another district for education services.

The information on the Agency Survey includes the education agency's name, address, telephone, county in which the agency is located, and a code that identifies the community as metropolitan or not. The total number of students in the agency is reported, as are the number of students with special education individual education programs (IEPs), the number of dropouts from grades 7 through 12 (19 states reported this in 1993-94), and the number of high school completers. Counts of instructional, support and administrative staff are provided.

Comparability and Quality of the CCD Data

States follow a common set of definitions in their CCD reports, but the differences in how states organize education lead to some limitations in comparing data. Not every state classifies a portion of its students as "ungraded," which must be kept in mind when comparing grade-level membership across states. Similarly, states vary in the kinds of high school completion credentials they offer. Some issue a single diploma regardless of the student's course of study. Others award a range of different credentials depending upon whether the student completed the regular curriculum or addressed some other individualized set of education goals. Differences that can affect comparability are noted throughout this report. When a state does not use a CCD category, such as ungraded students or other high school completers, the item is shown as "not applicable" in the tables.

Comparisons across surveys. Numbers may vary across reporting levels in an unexpected way. For example, the number of students reported for a school district may not equal the number reported for all of the schools associated with the district. This is a legitimate difference if there are students served directly by the school district, but who are not accounted to any school. For example, some school districts organize their services to hospitalized or homebound students in this way. To avoid the confusion that could arise from publishing different totals for the same statistics, NCES publishes only the numbers of students and staff reported on the State Nonfiscal Survey. Many tables in this report show state totals followed by a percentage distribution of students by some category reported on the school or agency universes. In these tables, the total is that reported on the State Nonfiscal Survey while the percentages are based on the distribution of the characteristic across the schools or education agencies that are represented in the table. It should be noted that The State Nonfiscal Survey figures are those reported in 1994, and do not reflect revisions made since that time.

Missing data. Some states may not report a single item (for example, several states do not report the racial/ethnic distribution of their students). This information is shown as missing in the tables, unless it was reasonable to impute (estimate) a value. If a state has reported information in the past, a value can be imputed for the current year by making certain assumptions about how the information changed. Imputations are usually based on the assumption that one state shows the same rate of change as others, or that a ratio (say, the average number of pupils per teacher) has remained stable even if one part of it (in this example, teacher counts) is missing. Imputed data are identified as such when they appear. If it was not possible to create a trustworthy imputation or draw data from another source, an item is identified as "missing."

Locale codes and metropolitan status. These urbanicity codes produce some individual assignments that may differ from common assumption. Each school in the CCD is assigned a locale code based on the size and density of the population in the place identified by the school's mailing address. In a few cases this may not be the same as the school's physical location. For example, a school might be located in a rural area but receive its mail at a post office in a nearby small town. Again, schools may be associated with a sizable city (for example, Las Vegas) but in an area in which the population is sufficiently dispersed so that the school is categorized as "mid-sized city" rather that "large city."

Metropolitan status is the urbanicity category assigned to education agencies. The criteria of population size and density apply to these categories as well. In states that have many school districts covering relatively small geographic areas (example, Nebraska) there may be several "central city" school districts, while in states with geographically large school ditricts (example, Nevada) there may be few or none.

Special terms. Discussion of the tables is limited to information about the 50 states and the District of Columbia (collectively referred to as "the states") unless the outlying areas are explicitly included. And, unless the text specifies otherwise, these groups are the focus of tables and discussion:

  • School districts: locally administered education agencies that are responsible for instruction (regular districts and those that are components of supervisory unions); excludes supervisory and special service agencies, and those operated by the state or federal government.
  • Regular schools: those primarily offering a regular academic curriculum, although specialized curricula may be included; excludes schools that are categorized as special education, vocational, and other or alternative.
  • With membership: schools or districts with 1 or more students in membership (many analyses of school districts or regular schools exclude those with no students); membership is the number of students enrolled on October 1 or the school day closest to this date.
These are the numbers of education agencies and schools in the 1993-94 school year as they are described in this report. Note that some regular districts and schools were nonoperative in 1993-94, that is, they reported no students in attendance.


1\ The reporting outlying areas were American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The entire group of respondents is referred to here as the states and outlying areas.

2\ See the Glossary for definitions of the CCD items discussed in this report.

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