At A Glance

Noteworthy Characteristics

  • Data can be used to identify specific types of schools or school districts for studies on childhood obesity.
  • School-level demographic and fiscal data can be linked by address/zip code.
  • District-level (local education agency) identifiers are available.



To provide an official listing of public elementary and secondary schools and school districts in the United States (U.S.). This system also collects descriptive and demographic data on these schools and school districts.

Target Population

Public elementary and secondary schools in school districts in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense Schools, and the territories.


Began in the 1986-1987 school year. Conducted annually. Most recent year of data available: 2014-2015.


National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education


Sample Design

Cross-sectional survey.

Data are representative of U.S. public schools and public school districts.

Sample Size

59 state-level education agencies with regard to all U.S. public schools in 2007-2008. Statistical information is collected annually from approximately 100,000 public elementary and secondary schools and approximately 18,000 public school districts (including supervisory unions and regional education service agencies) in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense Schools, and the outlying areas.

Key Variables


NameMethods of Assessment
Number of students eligible to participate in the free and reduced-price National School Lunch Program.Interview/questionnaire (school)


NameMethods of Assessment
Address and zip code plus 4 Interview/questionnaire (district and school)
Congressional district codeInterview/questionnaire (school)
CountyInterview/questionnaire (school)
Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) CodesInterview/questionnaire (district and school)
Latitude/longitudeInterview/questionnaire (school)
Local education agency identifierInterview/questionnaire (district)
Metropolitan statistical areaInterview/questionnaire (district and school)
Urban-centric locale code (indicates school’s location relative to a populous area/rural vs. urban status)Interview/questionnaire (school)


NameMethods of Assessment
District and school racial/ethnic and sex compositionInterview/questionnaire (district and school)
Drop-out/completion rates (high schools only)Interview/questionnaire (district)
Finance dataInterview/questionnaire (district)
Information on number of studentsInterview/questionnaire (district and school)
Local, state, and federal revenues and expenditures and teacher compensationInterview/questionnaire (district)
Staff counts (by job description)Interview/questionnaire (school)
Student counts by gradeInterview/questionnaire (school)
Title I eligibility statusInterview/questionnaire (school)
Total full-time equivalent (FTE) teachersInterview/questionnaire (district)
Type (e.g., special education, alternative, charter)Interview/questionnaire (school)

Special Note(s)

Special note: The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) does not interview the schools or districts; data are submitted to NCES by the state.

Data Access and Cost

Data Availability

Obtain data.


Free of charge.

Special Note(s)

Teacher compensation and drop-out/completion files are restricted access. A restricted data use license is required for access. Learn more about obtaining this license.


Geocode Variable(s)

State, core-based statistical area, metropolitan statistical area, county, district, school address, zip code, and latitude/longitude.

Existing Linkages

National Center for Education Statistics-Common Core of Data (NCES-CCD) data on school environments have been linked to Child Development Supplement of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) data on socio-demographic, psychological, and economic aspects of childhood using school district.

NCES-CCD data on racial composition have been linked to census geographic data using school district.

Selected Publications

Click here for a full list of publications.


Turner L, Chaloupka FJ, Chriqui JF, Sandoval A. School Policies and Practices to Improve Health and Prevent Obesity: National Elementary School Survey Results: School Years 2006–2007 and 2007–2008. Chicago, IL: Bridging the Gap Program, Health Policy Center, Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2010.


Data Query System