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The Boundary Collection

The School Attendance Boundary Survey (SABS) was an experimental survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) with assistance from the U.S. Census Bureau to collect school attendance boundaries for the 2013-2014 and 2015-2016 school years. The SABS collection includes boundaries for more than 70,000 schools in over 12,000 school districts throughout the U.S.

Attendance Boundaries

Attendance boundaries, sometimes known as school catchment areas, define the geographic extent served by a local school for the purpose of student assignments. School district administrators create attendance areas to help organize and plan district-wide services, and districts may adjust individual school boundaries to help balance the capacity of local schools with changes in the local school-age population. NCES conducted the boundary collections to provide foundational data for basic research and analysis. The SABS boundaries can help data users visualize and explore the spatial distribution of educational outcomes and learn how the structure of educational geography varies within and between local school systems.

Please see the data file documentation for more information.

Data Uses

The SABS data are provided as shapefiles and are primarily intended for use with a geographic information system (GIS). The shapefiles include feature geometry for Elementary, Middle, and High School boundaries as well the name, ID, grade span, and other attributes for each school. Although the SABS data do not define feeder patterns between school levels, the boundaries are provided in a single composite file to help visualize and identify the spatial relationships between school areas.

Data Sets

Year Shapefile Documentation
SY 2015-16
Single file
ZIP (556 MB) PDF (1.18 MB)
SY 2015-16
by School Level
ZIP (684 MB)
SY 2013-14
Single file
ZIP (543 MB) PDF (220 KB)
SY 2013-14
by School Level
ZIP (671 MB)
Supplemental Data Sets:
SY 2010-11* ZIP (237 MB)  
SY 2009-10** ZIP (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