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This National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) First Look report introduces new data for the universe of public elementary and secondary schools and agencies in the United States1in school year (SY) 2015–16. Specifically, this report includes statistics that describe the following:

  • the numbers and types of public elementary and secondary schools and local education agencies2 (LEAs);
  • the operational status of schools and districts, including those that opened as new in SY 2015–16 or have closed since the prior school year;
  • student membership counts;
  • teacher counts3 and;
  • pupil/teacher ratios.

The public elementary and secondary universe data used in this report are from the nonfiscal components of the Common Core of Data (CCD). The CCD is the primary NCES database on public elementary and secondary education in the United States. There are three nonfiscal components of CCD: the Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey, the Local Education Agency (LEA) Universe Survey, and the State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/Secondary Education.

The CCD includes a complete directory listing of all public schools and LEAs with the name, address, and descriptive characteristics for each school and LEA (e.g., operational status, type, charter status). The data also include aggregate counts of students in membership for each state, LEA, and school by grade and student demographic characteristics (e.g., race/ethnicity, sex) and aggregate counts of teachers and other staff in key occupational categories that are commonly found in schools. State education agencies (SEAs) report these data through the U.S. Department of Education’s EDFacts Submission System (ESS), an electronic file submission system that facilitates transmission of data from the SEAs to the Department. This First Look is based on provisional data from the SY 2015–16 public elementary and secondary education universe that have been fully reviewed and edited.4The purpose of a First Look report is to introduce new data through the presentation of tables containing descriptive information; therefore, the tables and selected findings chosen for this report are meant to illustrate some of the typical types of information available from the public elementary and secondary universe files. The tables chosen include tabulations from only some of the available data items. The findings do not represent a complete review of all observed differences in the data and are not meant to emphasize any particular issue. The calculated totals in this report, identified as “United States” totals in tabulations and “national” estimates in text, include data for only the 50 states and the District of Columbia and exclude data for other jurisdictions.

Appendix A in this document provides an overview of the methodology used to collect these data.


1 This report includes data for the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The findings discussed in this report are limited to the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

2 LEAs may also be referred to as school districts.

3 Teacher counts are reported in terms of full-time-equivalent teachers.

4 Provisional data have undergone a complete review and been subjected to NCES data quality control procedures. Prior to this provisional release, NCES released a preliminary directory derived from school and LEA files for SY 2015–16 that included only basic directory data that had undergone cursory review and minimal editing. Preliminary data may be less complete due to late reporting or data quality concerns.