NCES Blog

National Center for Education Statistics

National Spending for Public Schools Increases for the Sixth Consecutive Year in School Year 2018–19

NCES just released a finance tables report, Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: FY19 (NCES 2021-302), which draws from data in the National Public Education Financial Survey (NPEFS). The results show that spending1 on elementary and secondary education increased in school year 2018–19 (fiscal year [FY] 2019), after adjusting for inflation. This is the sixth consecutive year that year-over-year education spending increased since 2012–13. This increase follows declines in year-over-year spending for the prior 4 years (2009–10 to 2012–13).

Current expenditures per pupil2 for the day-to-day operation of public elementary and secondary schools rose to $13,187 in FY19, an increase of 2.1 percent from FY18, after adjusting for inflation (figure 1).3 Current expenditures per pupil also increased over the previous year in FY18 (by 0.9 percent), in FY17 (by 1.7 percent), in FY16 (by 2.8 percent), in FY15 (by 2.7 percent), and in FY14 (by 1.2 percent). In FY19, education spending was 11.8 percent higher than the lowest point of the Great Recession in FY13 and 6.1 percent higher than spending prior to the Great Recession in FY10.


Figure 1. National inflation-adjusted current expenditures per pupil for public elementary and secondary school districts: FY10 through FY19

NOTE: Spending is reported in constant FY19 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," fiscal years 2010 through 2018 Final Version 2a; and fiscal year 2019, Provisional Version 1a; and Digest of Education Statistics 2019, retrieved January 8, 2021, from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d19/tables/dt19_106.70.asp.


Without adjusting for geographic cost differences, current expenditures per pupil ranged from $7,950 in Utah to $24,882 in New York (figure 2). In addition to New York, current expenditures per pupil were highest in the District of Columbia ($22,831), New Jersey ($21,331), Vermont ($21,217), and Connecticut ($21,140). In addition to Utah, current expenditures per pupil were lowest in Idaho ($8,043), Arizona ($8,773), Nevada ($9,126), and Oklahoma ($9,203).


Figure 2. Current expenditures per pupil for public elementary and secondary education, by state: FY19

NOTE: These data are not adjusted for geographic cost differences.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), “National Public Education Financial Survey (NPEFS),” FY19, Provisional Version 1a and “State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/Secondary Education,” school year 2018–19, Provisional Version 1a.


These new NPEFS data offer researchers extensive opportunities to investigate state and national patterns of revenues and expenditures. Explore the report and learn more.


[1] Spending refers to current expenditures. Current expenditures comprise expenditures for the day-to-day operation of schools and school districts for public elementary/secondary education, including expenditures for staff salaries and benefits, supplies, and purchased services. Current expenditures include instruction, instruction-related support services (e.g., social work, health, psychological services), and other elementary/secondary current expenditures but exclude expenditures on capital outlay, other programs, and interest on long-term debt.
[2] Per pupil expenditures are calculated using student membership derived from the State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/Secondary Education. In some states, adjustments are made to ensure consistency between membership and reported fiscal data. More information on these adjustments can be found in the data file documentation at https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/files.asp.
[3] In order to compare spending from one year to the next, expenditures are converted to constant dollars, which adjusts figures for inflation. Inflation adjustments utilize the Consumer Price Index (CPI) published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. For comparability to fiscal education data, NCES adjusts the CPI from a calendar year to a school fiscal year basis (July through June). See Digest of Education Statistics 2019, table 106.70, retrieved January 8, 2021, from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d19/tables/dt19_106.70.asp.

 

By Stephen Q. Cornman NCES; Lei Zhou, Activate Research; and Malia Howell, U.S. Census Bureau

Identifying Virtual Schools Using the Common Core of Data (CCD)

With the sudden changes in education due to the coronavirus pandemic, virtual instruction is in the spotlight more than ever before. Prior to the pandemic, there were already increasing numbers of virtual public schools that offered instructional programs to those that may have difficulty accessing or attending traditional brick-and-mortar schools. Even before the pandemic, some schools and districts were using virtual instruction in new ways, such as switching to virtual instruction on snow days rather than cancelling school. Throughout the pandemic, schools and districts have been relying more heavily on virtual instruction than ever before.

Since school year (SY) 2013–14, the Common Core of Data (CCD) has included a school-level virtual status flag, which has changed over time. For SY 2020–21, the Department of Education instructed states to classify schools that are normally brick-and-mortar schools but are operating remotely during the pandemic as supplemental virtual (see table below).

 

SY 201314 Through SY 201516

Virtual status is a Yes/No flag, meaning that a school was either virtual or not virtual based on the following definition: “A public school that offers only instruction in which students and teachers are separated by time and/or location, and interaction occurs via computers and/or telecommunications technologies. A virtual school generally does not have a physical facility that allows students to attend classes on site.”

 

SY 201617 and Onward

NCES changed the virtual status flag to be more nuanced. Rather than just a Yes/No flag, the reported value indicates virtual status on a spectrum using the following values:

 

Permitted Value Abbreviation

Definition

FULLVIRTUAL

Exclusively virtual. All instruction offered by the school is virtual. This does not exclude students and teachers meeting in person for field trips, school-sponsored social events, or assessment purposes. All students receive all instruction virtually. Prior to SY 2019–20, this value was labeled as “Fully virtual.”

FACEVIRTUAL

Primarily virtual. The school’s major purpose is to provide virtual instruction to students, but some traditional classroom instruction is also provided. Most students receive all instruction virtually. Prior to SY 2019–20, this value was labeled as “Virtual with face to face options.”

SUPPVIRTUAL

Supplemental virtual. Instruction is directed by teachers in a traditional classroom setting; virtual instruction supplements face-to-face instruction by teachers. Students vary in the extent to which their instruction is virtual.

NOTVIRTUAL

No virtual instruction. The school does not offer any virtual instruction.  No students receive any virtual instruction. Prior to SY 2019–20, this value was labeled as “Not virtual.”

 

Generally, data users should treat the value “FULLVIRTUAL” (exclusively virtual) under the new approach as the equivalent of Virtual=Yes in the old approach. The virtual flag is a status assigned to a school as of October 1 each school year. 

The number of exclusively virtual schools has increased in the past several years. In SY 2013–14, there were a total of 478 exclusively virtual schools reported in CCD (approximately 0.5% of all operational schools). In SY 2019–20 there were 691 schools (approximately 0.7% of all operational schools) that were exclusively virtual. The student enrollment in exclusively virtual schools also increased from 199,815 students in SY 2013–14 to 293,717 in SY 2019–20, which is an increase from 0.4% of the total student enrollment in public schools to 0.6%.

Of the 691 virtual schools in SY 2019–20, 590 were reported as “regular” schools, meaning they offered a general academic curriculum rather than one focused on special needs or vocational education, 218 were charter schools, and 289 were high schools. Of the 8,673 schools that were reported as either primary virtual or supplemental virtual, 7,727 were regular schools, 624 were charter schools, and 4,098 were high schools.

To see tables summarizing the above data, visit our Data Tables web page and select the nonfiscal tables.

To learn more about the CCD, visit our web page. For more information about how to access CCD data, including tips for using the District and School Locators and the Elementary and Secondary Information System, read the blog post “Accessing the Common Core of Data (CCD).” You can also access the raw data files for additional information about public elementary and secondary schools. Enrollment and staff data for SY 2020–21 are currently being collected, processed, and verified and could be released by spring 2022.

 

By Patrick Keaton, NCES

Highlights of 2015–16 and 2016–17 School-Level Finance Data

NCES annually publishes comprehensive data on the finances of public elementary and secondary schools through the Common Core of Data (CCD). For many years, these data have been released at the state level through the National Public Education Financial Survey (NPEFS) and at the school district level through the Local Education Agency (School District) Finance Survey (F-33).

Policymakers, researchers, and the public have long voiced concerns about the equitable distribution of school funding within and across districts. School-level finance data provide reliable and unbiased measures that can be utilized to compare how resources are distributed among schools within districts.

Education spending data are now available for 15 states[1] at the school level through the School-Level Finance Survey (SLFS), which NCES has been conducting annually since 2014.[2] In November 2018, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved changes to the SLFS wherein variables have been added to make the SLFS directly analogous to the F-33 Survey and to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provisions on reporting expenditures per pupil at the school and district levels.

Below are some key findings from the recently released NCES report Highlights of School-Level Finance Data: Selected Findings From the School-Level Finance Survey (SLFS) School Years 2015–16 (FY 16) and 2016–17 (FY 17).

 

Eight of the 15 states participating in the SLFS are able to report school-level expenditure data requested by the survey for a high percentage of their schools.

The initial years of the SLFS have consistently demonstrated that most states can report detailed school‑level spending data for the vast majority of their schools. In school year (SY) 2016–17 (FY 2017), most states participating in the SLFS (8 out of 15) reported school-level finance data for at least 95 percent of their schools (figure 1). With the exception of New Jersey,[3] all states were able to report at least partial SLFS finance data for more than 78 percent of their schools, ranging from 79 percent of schools in Colorado to 99 percent of schools in Oklahoma. In addition, the percentage of students covered by SLFS reporting was more than 99 percent in 9 of the 15 participating states. 


Figure 1. Percentage of students covered and percentage of schools with fiscal data reported in the School-Level Finance Survey (SLFS), by participating state: FY 2017


 

The SLFS can be used to evaluate school-level expenditure data based on various descriptive school characteristics.

The SLFS allows data users to not only view comparable school-level spending data but also evaluate differences in school-level spending based on a variety of school characteristics. In the report, SY 2016–17 (FY 2017) SLFS data were evaluated by charter status and urbanicity. Key findings from this evaluation include the following:

  • Median teacher salaries[4] in charter schools were lower than median teacher salaries in noncharter schools in all 7 states that met the standards for reporting teacher salaries for both charter and noncharter schools (figure 2).
  • School expenditures were often higher in cities and suburbs than in towns and rural areas. Median teacher salaries, for example, were highest for schools in either cities or suburbs in 9 of the 10 states that met the standards for reporting teacher salaries in each of the urbanicities (city, suburb, town, and rural) (figure 3).  

Figure 2. Median teacher salary for operational public elementary and secondary schools, by school charter status and reporting state: FY 2017


Figure 3. Median teacher salary for operational public elementary and secondary schools, by school urbanicity and reporting state: FY 2017


Median technology‑related expenditures per pupil were also highest for schools in either cities or suburbs in 9 of the 11 states that met the standards for reporting technology-related expenditures in each of the urbanicities, with schools in cities reporting the highest median technology-related expenditures per pupil in 6 of those states.

 

The SLFS can be used to evaluate and compare school-level expenditure data by various poverty indicators.

The report also evaluates and compares school-level spending by school poverty indicators, such as Title I eligibility and school neighborhood poverty level. Key findings from this evaluation include the following:

  • In SY 2016–17 (FY 2017), median teacher salaries were slightly lower for Title I eligible schools than for non-Title I eligible schools in 7 of the 8 states where standards were met for reporting both Title I eligible and non-Title I eligible schools. However, median personnel salaries per pupil were slightly lower for Title I eligible schools than for non-Title I eligible schools in only 2 of the 8 states where reporting standards were met.    
  • Median personnel salaries per pupil for SY 2016–17 were higher for schools in high‑poverty neighborhoods than for schools in low-poverty neighborhoods in 7 of the 12 states where standards were met for reporting school personnel salaries.

 

To learn more about these and other key findings from the SY 2015–16 and 2016–17 SLFS data collections, read the full report. The corresponding data files for these collections will be released later this year.


[1] The following 15 states participated in the SY 2015–16 and 2016–17 SLFS: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Wyoming.

[2] Spending refers to “current expenditures,” which are expenditures for the day-to-day operation of schools and school districts for public elementary/secondary education. For the SY 2015–16 and 2016–17 data collections referenced in this blog, the SLFS did not collect complete current expenditures; the current expenditures collected for those years included expenditures most typically accounted for at the school level, such as instructional staff salaries, student support services salaries, instructional staff support services salaries, school administration salaries, and supplies and purchased services. As of SY 2017–18, the SLFS was expanded to collect complete current expenditures.

[3] In New Jersey, detailed school-level finance reporting is required for only its “Abbott” districts, which comprised only 31 of the state’s 699 school districts in SY 2016–17.

[4] “Median teacher salaries” are defined as the median of the schools’ average teacher salary. A school’s average teacher salary is calculated as the teacher salary expenditures reported for the school divided by the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) teachers at the school. Note that this calculation differs from calculating the median of salaries across all teachers at the school, as the SLFS does not collect or report salary data at the teacher level.

 

 

By Stephen Cornman, NCES

Accessing the Common Core of Data (CCD)

Every year, NCES releases nonfiscal data files from the Common Core of Data (CCD), the Department of Education’s (ED’s) primary longitudinal database on public elementary and secondary education in the United States. CCD data releases include directory data (location, status, and grades offered), student membership data (by grade, gender, and race/ethnicity), data on full-time equivalent staff and teachers, and data on the number of students eligible for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP)

This blog post, one in a series of posts about CCD data, focuses on how to access and use the data. For information on using NSLP data, read the blog post Understanding School Lunch Eligibility in the Common Core of Data

CCD Data Use

CCD data are used both internally by ED and externally by the public. For example, within ED, CCD data serve as the sample frame for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and are the mainstay of many tables in the Digest of Education Statistics and The Condition of Education. Outside of ED, CCD data are used by researchers, the general public (e.g., realtor sites, The Common Application, Great Schools), and teachers who need their school’s NCES school ID to apply for grants.

Data Structure and Availability

CCD data are available at the state, district, and school levels, using a nested structure: all schools are within a parent district and all districts are within a state. CCD does not include any student- or staff-level data.

Most CCD data elements are available for school year (SY) 1986‒87 to the present.    

Unique Identifiers Within CCD

NCES uses a three-part ID system for public schools and districts: state-based Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) codes, district codes, and school codes. Using these three parts, several IDs can be generated:

  • District IDs: 7-digit (FIPS + 5-digit District)
  • School IDs:
    • 12-digit (FIPS + District + School)
    • 7-digit (FIPS + School) (unique from SY 2016‒17 on)

NCES IDs are assigned to districts and schools indefinitely, making them useful for analyzing data over time. For example, for a longitudinal school-level analysis, a school’s 7-digit ID should be used, as it remains the same even if the school changes districts. These IDs can also be used to link CCD district and school data to other ED databases.

Accessing CCD Data

There are three ways to access CCD data: the CCD District and School Locators, the Elementary/Secondary Information System (ElSi), and the raw data files. Each approach has different benefits and limitations.

  • CCD District and School locators
    • Quick and easy to use
    • Many ways to search for districts and schools (e.g., district/school name, street address, county, state)
    • Provides the latest year of CCD data available for the selected district(s) or school(s)
    • Tips for optimal use:
      • If you are having difficulty finding a district or school, only enter a key word for the name (e.g., for PS 100 Glen Morris in New York City, only enter “Glen Morris” or “PS 100”)
      • Export search results to Excel (including all CCD locator fields)

  • Elementary/Secondary Information System (ElSi)
    • quickFacts and expressTables: view most-requested CCD data elements at multiple levels
    • tableGenerator: combine data across topic areas and years to create a single file
    • Create “tables” that act like databases and include all of the roughly 100,000 public schools or 20,000 districts
    • Export data to Excel or CSV
    • Tips for optimal use:
      • Save and edit queries using the navigation buttons at the top of the screen
      • popularTables provide links to frequently requested data

 

Interested in learning more about CCD or accessing CCD data at the state, district, or school level? Check out the CCD website and use the District and School locators, ElSi, or the raw data files to find the data you are looking for.

 

By Patrick Keaton, NCES

Building Bridges: Increasing the Power of the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) Through Data Linking With an ID Crosswalk

On October 15, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released the 2017–18 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). The CRDC is a biennial survey that has been conducted by ED to collect data on key education and civil rights issues in our nation’s public schools since 1968. The CRDC provides data on student enrollment and educational programs and services, most of which are disaggregated by students’ race/ethnicity, sex, limited English proficiency designation, and disability status. The CRDC is an important aspect of the overall strategy of ED’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to administer and enforce civil rights statutes that apply to U.S. public schools. The information collected through the CRDC is also used by other ED offices as well as by policymakers and researchers outside of ED.  

As a standalone data collection, the CRDC provides a wealth of information. However, the analytic power and scope of the CRDC can be enhanced by linking it to other ED and government data collections, including the following:

A Crosswalk to Link CRDC Data to Other Data Collections

To facilitate joining CRDC data to these and other data collections, NCES developed an ID crosswalk. This crosswalk is necessary because there are instances when the CRDC school ID number (referred to as a combo key) does not match the NCES school ID number assigned in other data collections (see the “Mismatches Between ID Numbers” section below for reasons why this may occur). By linking the CRDC to other data collections, researchers can answer questions that CRDC data alone cannot, such as the following:



Mismatches Between ID Numbers

Mismatches between CRDC combo key numbers and NCES ID numbers may occur because of differences in how schools and districts are reported in the CRDC and other collections and because of differences in the timing of collections. Below are some examples.

  • Differences in how schools and school districts are reported in the CRDC and other data collections:
    • New York City Public Schools is reported as a single district in the CRDC but as multiple districts (with one supervisory union and 33 components of the supervisory union) in other data collections. Thus, the district will have one combo key in the CRDC but multiple ID numbers in other data collections.
    • Sometimes charter schools are reported differently in the CRDC compared with other data collections. For example, some charter schools in California are reported as independent (with each school serving as its own school district) in the CRDC but as a single combined school district in other data collections. Thus, each school will have its own combo key in the CRDC, but there will be one ID number for the combined district in other data collections.
    • There are differences between how a state or school district defines a school compared with how other data collections define a school.
  • Differences in the timing of the CRDC and other data collections:
    • There is a lag between when the CRDC survey universe is planned and when the data collection begins. During this time, a new school may open. Since the school has not yet been assigned an ID number, it is reported in the CRDC as a new school.


Interested in using the ID crosswalk to link CRDC data with other data collections and explore a research question of your own? Visit https://www.air.org/project/research-evaluation-support-civil-rights-data-collection-crdc to learn more and access the crosswalk. For more information about the CRDC, visit https://ocrdata.ed.gov/.

 

By Jennifer Sable, AIR, and Stephanie R. Miller, NCES