NCES is excited to announce the release of a resource hub that focuses on data by geographic locale—Education Across America: Cities, Suburbs, Towns, and Rural Areas—using a three-phased approach. Released today, Phase I of this new resource hub involves the consolidation of locale-focused data across NCES surveys and programs and makes updates to the latest data available. The result of this work is 140 tables with data disaggregated by all four locales (i.e., cities, suburbs, towns, and rural areas). These tables cover a wide range of topics grouped into broad themes: family characteristics, educational experiences, school resources and staffing, and educational outcomes. Phases II and III will focus on rural areas and involve summarizing findings in text.
To make these data more relevant and useful, NCES adopted a pyramid approach1 to attend to various user segments with tiered products (exhibit 1). Source tables containing data disaggregated by locale form the base of the pyramid. These tables, which contain the most detailed statistical information about education in each locale, target data-savvy users such as researchers.
Exhibit 1. Tiered Approach to Products in Education Across America Resource Hub
The next level is indicators. These indicators, comprising text and figures, will supply in-depth analyses that focus on rural areas. In order to make our data relevant and useful, literature review and focused groups were conducted to identify the topics that are important to education in rural areas. The target audience for these indicators is those who are looking for comprehensive discussions on specific topics in rural education.
The middle level of the pyramid is thematic summaries. These summaries synthesize findings across multiple indicators grouped together by a theme. In addition to thematic summaries, we will create a spotlight that focuses on distant and remote rural areas because these areas are confronted with unique challenges and are of particular policy interest. These products target education leaders in higher education and at the state and local levels.
The next level of the pyramid is briefs, which includes an executive summary on key findings about rural education and an at-a-glance resource that highlights important statistics about schools and students in rural areas. These products are designed as quick reads and target nontechnical audiences—such as state and local education leaders, associations, and policymakers—as well as individuals with an interest in education—such as educators and parents.
The final level of the pyramid is digital media, which includes blogs and social media posts that highlight key findings and resources available in the Education Across America resource hub. These products are designed to connect the media, parents, and educators with information on educational experiences across America.
Phase II involves the development of 5 to 10 indicators focused on the experience of schools and students in rural areas and is expected to be completed in June 2022. Phase III—which is expected to be completed in October 2022—consists of the development of the remaining indicators as well as the products in the thematic summaries and briefs tiers.
Check out our locale-focused research hub, Education Across America, today. Be sure to check back over the summer and fall to explore the hub as we release new products focusing on education in rural areas.
By Xiaolei Wang, Ph.D., NCES; and Jodi Vallaster, Ed.D., NCES