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Overview of Public Elementary and Secondary Schools and Districts: School Year 2001-02

Key Terms

A public school
provides educational services to students, has an assigned administrator, receives public funds as its primary support, and is operated by an education agency. A single school may operate at multiple locations (for example, an urban "storefront school" for potential dropouts with a single principal responsible for programs at several addresses). Multiple schools may operate at the same location, as is the case when a kindergarten-grade 12 building has both an elementary and a high school principal. Except in table A, this report excluded 2,732 schools in the states (and 21 in the outlying areas) that did not report any students in membership for the 2001-02 school year.

Regular schools
do not focus primarily on special, vocational, or alternative education, although they may offer these programs in addition to the regular curriculum.

A special education school
focuses primarily on special education, with materials and instructional approaches adapted to meet the students' needs.

A vocational education school
focuses primarily on vocational, technical or career education and provides education or training in at least one semiskilled or technical occupation.

An alternative education school
addresses the needs of students that typically cannot be met in the regular school setting, and provides nontraditional education.

Title I schools
are designated as eligible for participation in programs authorized by Title I of Public Law 107-110, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2002. Those with schoolwide programs are schools in which all students have been designated by state and federal regulations as eligible for participation in Title I programs.

Magnet schools
are those designed to attract students of different racial/ethnic backgrounds for the purpose of reducing racial isolation, or to provide an academic or social focus on a specific theme (e.g., performing arts).

Charter schools
provide free public elementary/secondary education under a charter granted by the state legislature or other appropriate authority.

is the annual headcount of students enrolled in school on October 1, or the school day closest to that date. In any given year, some small schools will not have any pupils. And, in reporting to the CCD, states assign students who attend more than one school to a single school rather than prorating students across all the schools they attend.

Instructional levels
are calculated from the lowest and highest grades for which students are reported in a school. Primary schools are those with a low grade of prekindergarten through grade 3 and a high grade of up to 8. Middle schools contain a low grade of 4 to 7 and a high grade ranging from 4 to 9. (A 4th grade center would be counted as a middle school.) High schools have a low grade of 7 to 12 and must extend through grade 12. All other grade configurations, including schools that are completely ungraded, are grouped under the heading of "other."

counts are reported at the school district level and reflect the numbers of students with individualized education programs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)-Part B.

Free or reduced-price meal eligibility
is the number of students in a school who indicate that they are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Act.

Limited English proficient students
are those served in appropriate programs of language assistance (e.g., English as a Second Language, High Intensity Language Training, bilingual education). Does not include students enrolled in programs to learn a language other than English. Students may be referred to as English Language Learners.

Migrant students
are those whose parents or guardians are employed on a seasonal or temporary basis for agricultural or fishery work, and who have established a temporary residence for this purpose.

The race/ethnicity
categories used in the CCD are American Indian/Alaskan Native; Asian/Pacific Islander; Black, not Hispanic; Hispanic; and White, not Hispanic. They are mutually exclusive. Minority students, in this report, include all categories except White, not Hispanic.

School locale code
is assigned on the basis of the school's physical address, or mailing address, if the former is not reported. The locale code categories are:

Large city—central city of a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) or consolidated MSA (CMSA), with a population of at least 250,000.

Midsize city—central city of an MSA or CMSA, with a population less than 250,000.

Urban fringe of a large city—any incorporated place, Census-designated place (CDP), or non-place territory within a CMSA or MSA of a large city and defined as urban by the U.S. Bureau of the Census.

Urban fringe of a midsize city—any incorporated place, CDP, or non-place within a CMSA or MSA of a midsize central city and defined as urban by the U.S. Bureau of the Census.

Large town—an incorporated place or CDP with a population of at least 25,000 and located outside a CMSA or MSA.

Small town—an incorporated place or CDP with a population between 2,500 and 24,999 and located outside a CMSA or MSA.

Rural—any incorporated place, CDP, or non-place territory designated as rural by the U.S. Bureau of the Census; excludes places that are within an MSA.

Rural Urban Fringe—any place meeting the definition for rural that is within an MSA.

Regular school districts
are agencies responsible for providing free public education for school-age children residing within their jurisdiction. This category excludes local supervisory unions that provide management services for a group of associated school districts, although it includes the "component" districts that receive these services. The category also excludes regional education service agencies that typically provide school districts with research, testing, or data processing services; state and federally operated school districts; and other agencies that do not fall into these groupings. Most states reported education agencies that administered only charter schools under this last category. There were 2,526 agencies not considered regular school districts in 2001-02; 1,473 of these reported students and 1,053 did not. This report also excluded 330 regular school districts that did not report any students in membership for the 2001-02 school year. This condition can occur when a small district has no pupils or contracts with another district to educate the students under its jurisdiction.