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NCES’ Identification of Rural Locales. Mark Schneider, Commissioner, National Center for Education Statistics From a Presentation to the Secretary of Education’s Rural Education Task Force April 27, 2006.

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NCES’ Identification of Rural Locales

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Nces identification of rural locales l.jpg

NCES’ Identification of Rural Locales

Mark Schneider, Commissioner,

National Center for Education Statistics

From a Presentation to the Secretary of Education’s Rural Education Task Force

April 27, 2006


Slide2 l.jpg

NCES has used a locale code typology since the 1980’s to identify the type of area in which a district or school is located.

  • Working with the Census Bureau, NCES has assigned codes that identified a school as urban, suburban, or rural based upon geographic location.

  • These codes are in the Common Core of Data (CCD) and are used across NCES surveys.

  • These school codes are used by other parts of the Department for programmatic purposes, such as REAP.


What is a locale code l.jpg

What is a locale code?

  • Locale code is a classification system that assigns values ranging from large city to rural by looking at the place where an address is located.

  • Locale code assignments are based on the place’s population size and distance from a populous area.


Conceptual changes to locale code typology l.jpg

Conceptual Changes to Locale Code Typology

  • Basic logic is the same under the new and old typologies.

  • The new system has more precision and depends on changes introduced by OMB since the 2000 Census.

    • Reflects improvements in our ability to geocode schools and other places.

    • If we have an address, we can identify the precise location of a school.


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“Metro-centric” vs. “Urban-centric”

  • The old locale code typology was “metro-centric” because it relied on metropolitan statistical areas.

    • Boundaries were coterminous with counties.

    • Eight categories

  • The new locale code typology is “urban-centric” because it is based on urbanized areas (a densely settled core with densely settled surrounding areas).

    • Not necessarily coterminous with county boundaries.

    • Twelve categories (see definitions)


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Advantages of the Urban-centric System:

  • More precise than was previous reliance on county boundaries

  • Adds a “small city” designation

  • Better identifies suburban areas and towns

  • More detailed rural descriptions (fringe, distant, remote)


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How do these changes affect the number of rural districts, schools, and students?


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Locale Assignment: Old vs. New

Non-rural changed to Rural (3.5%, 579 districts)

Rural changed to Non-rural (2.9%, 485 districts)

Rural remained Rural (46.1%, 7,736 districts)

Never Rural (47.5%, 7,963 districts)


Number and percentage of districts that are rural us total 16 763 l.jpg

Number and percentage of districts that are rural – US Total (16,763)


Number and percentage of schools that are rural us total 98 492 l.jpg

Number and percentage of schools that are rural – US Total (98,492)


Number and percentage of students in rural schools in thousands us total 48 354 000 l.jpg

Number and percentage of students in rural schools, in thousands – US Total (48,354,000)


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West region:

School district rural

locale shift

Morrow SD

Harney SD

Lakeview SD

Elko County SD

Redding, CA

Nye County SD

San Juan SD

Needle Unified SD

Locale Assignment: Old vs. New

Non-rural changed to Rural (3.4%, 109 districts)

Rural changed to Non-rural (2.4%, 76 districts)

Rural remained Rural (46.7%, 1,488 districts)

Never Rural (47.5%, 1,212 districts)

Gallup McKinley SD

Kayenta SD


Number and percentage of rural districts schools and students west l.jpg

Number and percentage of rural districts, schools, and students – West


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Previous Address

Corrected Address

Redding, CA

Urbanized Area 2000

Rural Changed to Non-Rural


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South region: School district rural locale shift

Greenbrier County SD

Fayette County SD

Chester County SD

Tuscaloosa SD

Fairfield County SD

Winn Paris SD

Bulloch County SD

Wayne County SD

Jones County SD

Liberty SD

Highland SD

Locale Assignment: Old vs. New

Non-rural changed to Rural (6.5%, 248 districts)

Rural changed to Non-rural (3.9%, 148 districts)

Rural remained Rural (49.3%, 1,871 districts)

Never Rural (40.2%, 1,525 districts)


Number and percentage of rural districts schools and students south l.jpg

Number and percentage of rural districts, schools, and students – South


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Little Rock/North Little Rock, Arkansas

Previous Address

Corrected Address

Urbanized Area 2000

Urbanized Area 1990


For more information on the locale code typology go to the nces web page l.jpg

For more information on the locale code typology go to the NCES web page --

http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/pdf/sl031agen.pdf


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