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The NCES Education Demographic and Geographic Estimates (EDGE) program designs and develops information resources to help understand the social and spatial context of education in the U.S. It uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to create custom indicators of social, economic, and housing conditions for school-age children and their parents. It also uses spatial data collected by NCES and the Census Bureau to create geographic locale indicators, school point locations, school district boundaries, and other types of data to support spatial analysis.

ZCTA Locale Assignments

The ZCTA locale file is a table (in dBase or SAS format) of NCES locale assignments applied to the Zip Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTAs) included in the Census Bureau’s TIGER/Line boundaries. It provides a way to assign NCES locale indicators to files that include a ZIP Code but do not include other street-level address information needed to make an assignment based on point location. ZCTAs are approximations of U.S. Postal Service (USPS) 5-digit ZIP Code service areas that the Census Bureau creates using census blocks to present statistical data from censuses and surveys. The ZCTA locale assignments are based on NCES locale boundaries and reflect the locale that accounts for the largest areal proportion of the ZCTA. For additional information about the NCES locale criteria, see the Locale Boundaries User’s Manual (680 KB). Additional information about Census ZCTAs is available at

ZIP Code Tabulation Area (ZCTA) Locale Assignments File Documentation (334 KB)