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Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: School Year 2004–2005

NCES 2007-356
April 2007

Appendix A: Methodology and Technical Notes

Common Core of Data survey system. The State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/Secondary Education, the Local Education Agency Universe Survey, and the Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey are the nonfiscal components of the Common Core of Data (CCD) survey system, while the School District Finance Survey and the National Public Education Financial Survey (NPEFS) are the fiscal components. These surveys are reported annually by state education agencies (SEAs) through the efforts of state CCD coordinators. Participation in the CCD is voluntary.

Data for CCD surveys are collected from SEAs through an online reporting system. They are then processed, edited, and verified by the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), and the Education Statistics Services Institute (ESSI) of the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The 2004-05 school year NPEFS collection opened on March 15, 2005 and closed on September 5, 2006. All states, the District of Columbia, and four of the five other participating jurisdictions reported in the FY05 NPEFS collection. Guam did not report any data.

Data quality. Staff at NCES, the Census Bureau, and ESSI collaborate to edit all CCD data submissions and ask state CCD coordinators to correct or confirm any numbers that appear out of range when compared with other states' data or with the state's reports in previous years. If no explanation for anomalous data is provided by the state, NCES will change the data value. For example, NCES will replace a reported total with the sum of detail in cases where the sum of detail exceeds a reported total. NCES will also change a value to "not available" if data values are not plausible (e.g., if the number of students increases tenfold from the prior year to the current year while the number of teachers remains unchanged from the prior year, NCES will set the current year value for teachers to "not available").

Missing data. Not all states collect and report all of the data items requested in the CCD surveys. NCES imputes (replaces a nonresponse with a plausible value) for some missing items in NPEFS. Precise information about the extent of missing data is included in the documentation for the NPEFS FY05 file, which can be accessed at:

Imputed and adjusted data. NCES imputes and adjusts some reported values in the NPEFS to create data files that more accurately reflect finance data and to improve comparability among states. Imputations and adjustments are performed on data from the 50 states and the District of Columbia only, with the exception of adjustments for direct support expenditures (for and on behalf of school districts), which are also performed on data from some other jurisdictions.

  • Imputations correct cases in which a value is not reported at all, indicating that subtotals for the item are underreported. An imputation by NCES assigns a value to the missing item, and the subtotals containing this item are increased by the amount of the imputation. The same method is used for imputing revenues and expenditures. Revenues are imputed using total revenues, and expenditures are imputed using total expenditures.
  • Adjustments correct cases in which a value reported for one item contains a value for one or more additional items not reported elsewhere. For example, a state might not differentiate between instructional support staff and student support staff, reporting "missing" for student support staff salaries and a value for instructional support staff salaries that includes both items. NCES would adjust these two responses by reducing the amount reported for instructional support staff salaries and adding that amount to student support staff salaries. The total for salaries and total expenditures would not be affected by this adjustment.2

All imputed values in the tables in this report are footnoted, and imputed values are never used in the imputation of another value. Totals and subtotals in tables are footnoted if one or more items in the total or subtotal are imputed or adjusted. In some instances, state values are affected by redistribution of reported values to correct for missing data items.

Totals. Totals reported in the tables are limited to the 50 states and the District of Columbia. They do not include data from Puerto Rico or the four other jurisdictions of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Current expenditures. Researchers generally use current expenditures instead of total expenditures when comparing education spending between states or across time because current expenditures exclude expenditures for capital outlay, which tend to have dramatic increases and decreases from year to year. Also, the current expenditures commonly reported are for public elementary and secondary education only. Many school districts also support community services, adult education, private education, and other programs, which are included in total expenditures. These programs and the extent to which they are funded by school districts vary greatly both across and within states.

Comparability of fiscal data across states. Because the District of Columbia is a single urban district, it is often an outlier in comparisons of revenues and expenditures, with larger revenues and expenditures per student than most other school districts have. Similarly, Hawaii is a single school district and funds public education primarily through state taxes. Because of this, Hawaii's data may pose similar problems of comparability.

Inflation-adjusted data. Data in figure 3 in this report have been adjusted to fiscal year 2005 dollars to account for inflation using the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The CPI is published by the U.S. Labor Department, Bureau of Labor Statistics. This price index measures the average change in inflation of a fixed market basket of goods and services purchased by consumers.

Fiscal years. The fiscal year begins on July 1 and ends on June 30 for most states. The fiscal year for Alabama runs from October 1 through September 30, and the fiscal year for Nebraska and Texas runs from September 1 through August 31. The NPEFS data are not adjusted to conform to a uniform fiscal year across states.

2 For more information on imputed and adjusted data, see Hill (2006).