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School Attendance Boundary Survey

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The Department of Education’s (ED) National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) collects the school attendance boundaries biennially from geographically defined schools districts in the 50 States and the District of Columbia. A school attendance boundary (also referred to as a catchment area) is a geographic area from which the students are eligible to attend a local school. Typically, a local school district (also referred to as a local education agency (LEA)) determines the school attendance boundaries for schools within its district.

The 2015-2016 School Attendance Boundary Survey will open November 2, 2015. Detailed survey information will be mailed to school districts in October.


The Data Collection

The SABS data is collected over a web-based self-reporting system, through e-mail, and mailed paper maps. The web application provides instructions and assistance to users via a user guide, a frequently asked questions document, and instructional videos. The web application is designed to minimize response burden, improve data quality and timeliness, and reduce follow-up questions about data inconsistencies. Boundaries supplied outside of the online reporting system typically fell into one of six categories: a digital geographic file, such as a shapefile or Keyhole Markup Language (KML) file; digital image files, such as jpgs and pdfs; narrative descriptions; an interactive web map; Excel or pdf address lists; and paper maps.

School districts are contacted directly and are invited to participate in the survey. Districts in Delaware, Minnesota, and Oregon are not contacted directly because statewide data sets are already available at the state level.

Please see the data file documentation for more information.


Data Uses

NCES provides downloadable school attendance boundaries at the national level at no cost. The data files are provided as shapefiles and can be used with any Geographic Information System (GIS) software.

By providing the public with a mapping system that contains school and school district boundary information for regular public schools, it is possible for school personnel, researchers, and policy makers to examine relationships between schools in the same district or across the nation. Visual presentation of the school catchment areas may facilitate planning for the delivery of education services. These data may also help researchers to examine the effects of education policy at the school level.

Federal, state, and local agencies may use these boundaries to visualize social and demographic characteristics across school boundary areas. Finally, this collection provides the opportunity for all reporting school districts to integrate their local school-level data, like test scores or teacher characteristics, with digital boundaries to show distributions of characteristics.


For More Information

Please contact Tai Phan, Program Director, School District Demographics System, at



Public-Use: SY 2013-14
Single file
ZIP Zip File (543 MB) PDF PDF File (220 KB)
Public-Use: SY 2013-14
by School Level
ZIP Zip File (671 MB)
Supplemental Data Sets:  
Public-Use: SY 2010-11* ZIP Zip File (237 MB)  
Public-Use: SY 2009-10** ZIP Zip File (320 MB)  

*A sample school boundary survey of 600 districts conducted by NCES for the 2010-2011 school year.

**A sample survey over 500 district collected by the School Attendance Boundary Information Systems (SABINS) project. More information can be found at



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Frequently Asked Questions
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National Center for Education Statistics -
U.S. Department of Education