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  Original User Guide (PDF)

School District Data Book Overview

This section describes the School District Data Book (SDDB) which was developed to house and provide access to the 1990 Census school district special tabulation (SDST).

Much of the corresponding Census 2000 SDST is now available. See the Census 2000 SDST overview Web page for more information. Updates on these and related geodemographic developments are available via the Census 2000 Data Access and Use Web page.

The School District Data Book is an electronic library containing social, economic and administrative data for each of the 15,274 public school districts in the United States. The School District Data Book contains the most comprehensive database on children's demographics and children's living environment ever developed.

The School District Data Book is contained on a set of 51 CD-ROM's. Using a conventional microcomputer equipped with a CD-ROM reader, immediate access is provided to data for every school district, county and state and the United States as a whole.

This immense database of approximately 20 gigabytes of data (after reduction by data compression) provides up to 200,000 data items for each school district or county. The mapping features enables users to view maps of all individual school districts in the nation for the first time.

Demographics of "Relevant" Children. Perhaps the most important feature of the data in the School District Data Book are the 1990 Census School District Special Tabulation data which comprise more that 90-percent of the subject matter data in the SDDB. This is the only source of detailed demographics about children and their living environment for county and sub-county (school district) areas.

The 1990 Census school district special tabulation (Census 2000 counterpart now under development) provides a detailed set of demographic data. The grade ranges of school districts are adjusted so that each district has one grade range that is the same over all the territory it covers, and, to the extent possible, every grade is covered by exactly one district for each block in the country. Sometimes this cannot be achieved at the district level (by adjusting grade ranges) so accomodations to its peculiarities are made in the tabulation of census data for each block:

If a block is only claimed by a K-9 district in the school-district maps (i.e., no secondary district is indicated) then all children resident on that block in the decennial census are attributed to that district. If (the entire area of) a block is claimed by a K-9 district AND a K-12 district, then only children "in" grades 10-12 are attributed to the K-12 district for that block (the others are attributed to the K-9 district.)

Some school districts have different grade ranges in different areas, and have so indicated in the mapping survey. (For example, in Tennessee, most school districts are counties, and county districts are k-12. In a few counties, city districts serve elementary grades within their boundaries, and the county district provides only secondary grades in the city, but all grades outside. In making the tabulations, the grade range differences are respected by creating pseudo districts with different grade ranges. In the published tabulations, data for the pseudo districts are combined, and grade ranges are inadequately described as if they were the same for the entire district.) We have records of these explicit adjustments, there is no record of those done only in the block-by-block tabulations.

The School District Data Book enables users to:
  • Examine demographics, operations and finances of any school district: for example, assess special needs of the children and households served and to plan for types of growth or decline in student membership.
  • Compare characteristics of one school district to any other.
  • Locate districts within a region having certain characteristics.
  • Draw a thematic map to examine geographic distributions.
  • Extract data in a form that can be manipulated and used with your own data.
  • Use reference features as a handy electronic library.

The School District Data Book has been developed under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The principal interest of NCES in developing the School District Data Book is to provide an effective way for the Department and Congress to access, analyze and interpret data from the 1990 Census School District Special Tabulation. However, since this information can benefit state and local education agencies as well as researchers, policy analysts and administrators in a variety of other organizations, NCES implemented a program to meet these broader needs.

Chronological Background go to top

Census Mapping Project

Development of the School District Data Book started in 1988 with the Census Mapping Project. Under this initiative, sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics and coordinated by the Council of Chief State School Officers, all states participated in a program to develop school district maps. The maps, the first complete set ever to be developed for the nation, were the critical first step in the development of the database.

A public school district is an area whose public schools are administratively affiliated with a local education agency recognized by the state education agency as responsible for implementing the state's elementary and secondary public education program. Through the Census Mapping Project, 15,274 school districts were mapped.

School districts delineated by the Census Mapping Project are usually the same as those referenced in the NCES Common Core of Data Program. Accordingly, the Census Mapping Project used names and codes from the 1989-90 Common Core of Data as a means of identification.

Most areas of the U.S. are covered by one or more school districts. However, there are parts of some states that are not covered by any school district. These 60 areas are referred to as "balance of county" areas and treated as "pseudo" school districts in the SDDB. As a result, all areas of the U.S. are accounted for through the Census Mapping Project.

Paper maps developed by individual states were sent to the U.S. Bureau of the Census. The Census Bureau digitized the maps and transferred the resulting data into the Census Bureau's TIGER System. The TIGER (Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing) System is used by the Census Bureau as a way of tabulating address-oriented data. Once the school district maps were a part of the TIGER system, each of the nation's 6.5 million census blocks could be uniquely associated with their respective school districts.

Proximity/MESA and SDDB Development

In 1992, the National Center for Education Statistics contracted with MESA to develop the School District Data Book. It would be MESA's responsibility to assemble the raw data into the databases that became a part of the SDDB and to design and develop the software to meet the goals of the Department of Education for utility and ease of use.

1990 Census School District Special Tabulation

In 1993, under the sponsorship of NCES, the Census Bureau produced the 1990 Census School District Special Tabulation files that comprise approximately 95 percent of the SDDB's data. MESA and Census Bureau staff worked together to develop data compression techniques to transfer the data files from a mainframe computing environment into microcomputer databases.

The Census Bureau delivered the school district special tabulation files to MESA on approximately 200 high density magnetic tape reels. MESA transformed the census special tabulation data into a database structure suitable for CD-ROM and microcomputer use.

Additional Statistical Data Sources

In 1993-94, MESA acquired two non- decennial census data files and integrated these into the SDDB CD-ROM framework. Described in more detail below, these files include:
  • administrative data from the NCES 1989-90 Common Core of Data (data on teachers, schools and students) and
  • financial data from the 1989-90 Survey of School District Finances produced by the Census Bureau for the Department of Education.
Maps and Mapping Files go to top

Seven Cartographic CD-ROMs were developed, containing boundary and related mapping files, through the use of the Census Bureau TIGER/Line files. The TIGER/Line files are a product of the Census Bureau and are themselves contained on CD- ROM. They contain data describing attributes of all street and non- street (such as rivers) features of the entire U.S. The TIGER/Line files were augmented with school district boundary coding derived from the Census Mapping Project.

Using the TIGER/Line files, MESA developed boundary files for all school districts in the U.S. and other types of geography. These boundary files are used by the MESA IMAGE System GIS, and other software, to draw maps of school districts. The boundary files are an integral part of the SDDB CD-ROM series.

The boundary files contained on the cartographic CD-ROMs may be used directly with the IMAGE System to display thematic and orienteering maps. For more information on the features of the IMAGE System, click here. The boundary files may also be exported to a transportable format for use with other software.

SDDB Software go to top

MESA developed the software to be distributed on the SDDB CD-ROM providing access to the data. The SDDB software design is critical to meeting the goals to have the data not only easily accessible but also highly usable -- by users with varying interests and technical backgrounds.

The main features of the SDDB include:
  • Profiles and Tables
    • select geography through menu-driven operations
    • select prestructured profiles providing highlight data, or
    • select data for tabular display from the school district special tabulation files
  • Database Operations
    • extract data from SDDB databases for use in other applications
    • locate districts/counties/states meeting any specified criteria in the SDDB database
    • prepare reports showing data across geographic areas
    • obtain basic distributional statistics for SDDB data
  • Maps
    • display map outlines for U.S. by State, State by District and State by County
    • display thematic maps showing subject matter in the SDDB for states, districts and counties
  • Electronic Index, Glossary and Reference
    • the reference manual is electronic and may be queried for information to help answer any immediate application question or to lookup information on any topic by keyword.
    • the electronic glossary functions like the reference manual providing online definitions
    • the electronic index, a subject matter index, functions like the reference manual and facilitates access to data by topic.
SDDB Content Summary go to top

The School District Data Book is distributed only on CD-ROM. The 44- volume statistical CD-ROM set includes a U.S. by State volume and state by school district and county volumes.

Basic content of each CD-ROM includes:
  • SDDB software and reference files
  • For all districts, counties, states and the U.S.:
    • "Top 100" database of key demographic items
    • Administrative database (no county data)
    • Financial database (no county data)
  • Boundary files for maps
    • U.S. by State
    • State by county (all states)
U.S. by State CD-ROM. The U.S. by State CD-ROM contains, in addition to the basic content, U.S. and State 1990 Census school district special tabulation data.

Each State CD-ROM. Each of the State CD-ROM contain, in addition to the basic content, State, district and county 1990 Census school district special tabulation data for that state. Several states require two or more CD-ROM, while in other cases two or more states are contained on one CD-ROM.

In addition to the 44 statistical CD-ROMs, there are seven SDDB cartographic CD-ROMs. The cartographic CD-ROMs contain boundary files and mapping related data are are used to draw maps and support visual-based analyses.

1990 Census School District Special Tabulation go to top

See update note for a description of this database restructured as of January 2001.

The 1990 Census School District Special Tabulation data are provided for each school district, county, state and the U.S.

Data are organized by 7 types of tabulation records:
     Tabulation Record Type                      Number
                                                of Items
 1 - Characteristics of All Households              981 
 2 - Characteristics of All Persons               5,688
 3 - Characteristics of Households with Children    808                         
 4 - Characteristics of Parents with Children     3,187
 5 - Children's Households Characteristics          808
 6 - Children's Parents Characteristics           2,813
 7 - Children's Own Characteristics               2,271

Roughly 70 percent of the data items in each record correspond to the Census Bureau subject matter tables used in the 1990 Census Summary Tape File 3. The additional tables follow similar numbering/reference nomenclature but have been defined by NCES to meet more specific types of data uses; e.g., dropout population and at-risk populations.

For record types 3 through 7, tabulation categories are further detailed by type of enrollment:
 1 - Total Enrolled & Not Enrolled         
 2 - Total Enrolled (Public & Private)                             
 3 - Enrolled in Public School                                     
 4 - Enrolled in Private School                                    
 5 - Not Enrolled                          

For each type of enrollment category, as applicable for a school district age/grade coverage, in record types 3 through 7, the data are further broken down by the following age/grade categories:
  1- Total Relevant                                                      
  2- Pre-Kindergarten                                                    
  3- Kindergarten                                                        
  4- Grade 1- 4                                                          
  5- Grade 5- 8                                  
  6- Grade 9-12                                                          
  7- Age  0- 2 years                                                     
  8- Age  3- 4 years                                                     
  9- Age  5-13 years                                                     
 10- Age 14-17 years                             
 11- Age 18-19 years                                                     
 12- Age  3-19 years                                                     
 13- Age  5-17 years                                                     
Top 100 Database go to top

The "Top 100" database was developed to provide a compact file of key data items to be provided on each CD-ROM for each district, county, state and the U.S. A copy of this dBASE structured file is contained on each statistical CD-ROM. These data have been drawn mainly from the 1990 Census school district special tabulation and include items listed below.
Persons by Sex
Persons by Type of Household 
Persons by Urban/Rural Status
Persons by Race/Ethnic Origin
Labor Force Status
Educational Attainment
Households with Children
Housing Units by Tenure/Occupancy
Occupied Housing Units by Urban/Rural Status            
Economic Characteristics           
 - Median Gross Rent                     
 - Median Housing Value                  
 - Per Capita Income in 1989             
 - Median Household Income               
 - Public Assistance Income in 1989
 - Poverty Status, Income in 1989 
At-Risk Pre-School Age Children
At Risk School Age Children
Attributes of Children
 - Sex
 - Urban/Rural Status
 - Race/Ethnicity
 - Age
 - Household Type
 - Poverty Status
 - Enrolled in School            
    - Sex
    - Race/Ethnicity
 - Enrolled in Public School     
    - Sex 
    - Race/Ethnicity

Administrative (Common Core of Data)

Financial (Census of Governments)
 Total Revenue                         
  Local Revenue                        
  State Revenue                        
  Federal Revenue                      
 Total Expenditures                    
  Current Expenditures                 
   Instruction Expenditures            
   Support Expenditures                
Financial Data go to top

The financial data, from the 1989-90 Survey of School District Finances, includes data on the following subjects (complete detail not shown).

Total Revenue by Sources                
 Total Local Revenue                     
  Taxes by category                    
  Parent Government Contribution         
  Local Intergovernmental                
  School Lunch and other charges by category                    
  Interest Earnings                      
 Total State Revenue                     
  Direct from State                      
  State Revenue on Behalf of LEA         
 Total Federal Aid                       
  Federal Aid Through State              
  Direct Federal Aid                     

Total Expenditures by Function           
 Current For Instructional Programs      
  Instruction by category                
  Support Services by category    
 Noninstructional Current Spending by category
 Capital Outlay Expenditure by category  
 Payments to Other LEA's & Governments   
 Interest on Debt                        

 Long-Term Debt Issued                   
 Long-Term Debt Retired                  
 Long-Term Debt Outstanding, End Yr      
 Short-Term Debt Outstanding, Beg Yr     

 Assets at End of Year                   
 Sinking Fund                            
 Bond Fund                               

Administrative Data go to top

The administrative data have been derived from the 1989-90 Common Core of Data - School Level File. Using the school level data, school district level aggregates were prepared for the following subjects.
Students Reported in Schools by Race/Ethnic Origin
Schools by Enrollment Size
Students in Schools by Enrollment Reported Size        
Schools by Type of School
Students by Type of School
Schools by Urban/Rural Category        
Students by Urban/Rural Category            
Teachers by Urban/Rural Category
Schools by School Free Lunch Eligibility      
Students by School Free Lunch Eligibility          
Teachers by School Free Lunch Eligibility          
Schools by Percent Black  
Students in Schools by Percent Black                   
Teachers in Schools by Percent Black   
Schools by Percent White  
Students in Schools by Percent White
Teachers in Schools by Percent White   
Schools by Percent Hispanic
Students by Percent Hispanic
Teachers in Schools by Percent Hispanic                
Schools by Percent Native American         
Students by Percent Native American         
Teachers in Schools by Percent Native American
Schools by Percent Asian/Pacific Islander  
Students by Percent Asian/Pacific Islander  
Teachers in Schools by Percent Asian/Pacific Islander
How to Order the SDDB

To obtain an order form, contact Proximity.

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