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National Center for Education Statistics

Understanding our Students with MapED

MapED is a primary source of geographic education and demographic data for students across the U.S.. The latest MapED launch brings exceptional updates to this platform both technically with the introduction of several new maps and visually in the redesign. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Education Demographic and Geographic Estimates (EDGE), Sanametrix, and Blue Raster all brought unique expertise to ensure that any student, parent, or education professional has access to compelling and up-to-date maps and data.


The ACS-ED Maps application is the latest exploratory tool to identify conditions of school-age children in school districts across the United States. Users can explore indicators such as poverty, health insurance coverage, and race to better understand the connections between students, school districts and their surroundings.

“The Census Bureau creates the ACS-ED custom tabulation for the NCES EDGE program to help measure social and economic conditions of school-age kids in local school districts. Those conditions can vary considerably across different parts of the U.S. and even within the same metropolitan area, so the goal of the ACS-ED Maps tool is to help people visualize school district socioeconomic conditions in their geographic context so they can better understand how location affects education.” – Doug Geverdt, Administrative Data Division, NCES


ACS-ED Map is updated annually with the latest data available from the U.S. Census Bureau. Browse indicators by total population or get more refined data for school-age children by narrowing the search to all children, children enrolled in any type of schooling, or children enrolled in public school.

ACS-ED maps support side-by-side comparison of indicators by allowing users to create two views within the same browser. Additionally, users can share out their map on Facebook, Email or Twitter. The application utilizes ArcGIS Server and the ArcGIS API for JavaScript.

Locale Lookup

The Locale Lookup application identifies the types of communities where schools are located. Explore Public Schools and School Districts from the Common Core of Data (CCD), Private Schools from the Private School Survey (PSS), and Post-Secondary Schools from the Integrated Post-secondary Education Data System (IPEDS) in relation to their Locale classification, from rural to city landscapes. The application utilizes ArcGIS Server and the ArcGIS API for JavaScript.

Education Data Leaves the Classroom with EDGE Geodata

Geography plays a vital role in our schools: both inside and outside the classroom. The new release of the Education Demographic and Geographic Estimates (EDGE) Geodata site gives the public access to authoritative, up-to-date geographic education data for the entire U.S. Using this data effectively helps to answer some of the most difficult questions that face our school systems today: How far are high schools to the nearest community college? How many low-income households are contained within a school district? How do students in rural schools compare in math and science to urban schools?

Blue Raster and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) EDGE Program believe that releasing this spatial data in an open, easy to use format is essential in making data-driven decisions on school funding, student poverty, and teacher supply and more.

The EDGE Geodata site contains a variety of data sorted into four Data Categories:

  1. K-12 Schools
    Survey data from the Common Core of Data (CCD) for over 100,000 schools across the United States and over 18,000 School District Office Locations updated annually, as well as School Attendance Boundaries for every elementary, middle, and high school across the United States collected bi-annually.
  2. Postsecondary Schools
    Over 7,000 Postsecondary School Locations across the United States collected by the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) annually. This dataset includes Certification, Associate’s, Bachelor’s and Graduate programs.
  3. School Districts
    Developed by NCES EDGE Program, School District Boundary Composite files to provide public education for residents, released annually.
  4. Locale Boundaries
    Developed by NCES EDGE Program, a geographic locale framework that classifies all U.S. territory into twelve vategories ranging from Large Cities to Remote Rural areas.

Each dataset can be downloaded as full dataset, or filtered and then downloaded as a Spreadsheet, KML, or Shapefile, for use in GIS and non-GIS formats. Within the ArcGIS Open Data Platform, each dataset is available for further data drill-down in the API Explorer. Users can create custom Queries within the fields or apply spatial filters, and get outputs in JSON format.

All data items are hosted in the robust, cloud-based ArcGIS Online platform, and hosted in a custom configured Open Data site.

Looking Forward with MapEd School Feeder Patterns

Blue Raster has created new, one-of-a-kind functionality for the MapEd Project that displays School Feeder Patterns across the United States. A Feeder Pattern shows the trajectory of a student through the school system based on a geographic location. It is a unique way to visualize the School Attendance Boundary Survey (SABS), a National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) survey conducted bi-annually, outlining a school’s geographic attendance zone. This provides a more complete look at school boundaries and gives parents school options for their child.

The charts are powered by D3.js and use a modified Dendrogram to create smooth connecting lines. The functionality behind the graphic leverages the ArcGIS API for JavaScript Geometry Engine which allows for the intersection of geometries to be done on-the-fly as the users explore the SABS Dataset. The MapEd Project continues to evolve and keep up with the latest technologies in data visualization Feeder Patterns being the latest exceptional example of this.

tai-phanSchool Feeder Patterns allow users to use the School Attendance Boundary Survey in ways never possible before: visualizing the projection of a student throughout the school system. The school feeder patterns were created from regular and defacto 2013-2014 school attendance boundaries. These patterns were identified through a union of overlapping elementary, middle, high, and other school level boundaries. The team is looking forward to enhancing the data for schools by incorporating 2010-2014 American Community Survey data at the school level to become a rich resource for the Education Research/Statistical and GIS communities.

-Tai Phan, Census Mapping Lead at NCES

Easy Data Collection for School Attendance Boundaries

Due to the widespread success of School Mapper for the 2013-2014 school year, it has now been released for the second round of data collection for the 2015-2016 school year. Built in collaboration with the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and Sanametrix, School Mapper provides District Superintendents the ability to add, update, and delete the school attendance boundaries within their districts, as well as edit schools locations and details. The updated data is then reviewed and saved as part of the School Attendance Boundary Survey (SABS).


Because SABS is an optional survey, the 90.2% completion rate by Superintendents for the 2013-2014 school year is considered exceptional, and led to the continuation of the survey biennially. Being able to update this data set easily and frequently allows researchers to get a narrower view of what is going on for a school’s attendance zone with respect to demographic, social and economic indices, where we previously may have been limited to county or district borders. To make it even simpler: once all schools have been completed within the district, the data can be downloaded as a PDF or shapefile, so that when the next collection starts, the user can upload their shapefile and pick up where they left off.

The School Mapper leverages the latest ArcGIS for Server technologies, ArcGIS Online, Python and various JavaScript tools such as data-driven documents (d3.js).


“The success of the School Mapper Application is due to its simplicity in design, encouraging representatives to update school boundaries while eliminating the burden of reporting data and removing inconsistencies in data collection. NCES makes this latest boundary data publicly available so that researchers can examine social and demographic characteristics and educational policy effects at the school level for real, targeted change.”

– Tai Phan, Mathematical Statistician, NCES, U.S. Department of Education





Mapping Education and Demographic Trends with MapED

The Census Mapping program at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) – U.S. Department of Education has just released MapED, a new online mapping platform developed by Blue Raster and partner, Sanametrix, to visualize education and census data across the country.

MapED Homepage

The platform unites NCES and CENSUS datasets with GIS mapping capabilities. The general public can investigate education and demographic trends on local, regional, and national scales. The improved workflow makes it possible for anyone to discover, map, and analyze the data with ease, as users walk through selecting a program or topic area and explore and visualize the data on customizable maps.

Initially, the platform contains school, district, and or state-level data from:

  • American Community Survey (ACS)
  • Common Core of Data (CCD)
  • Integrated Postsecondary Educational Data System (IPEDS)
  • National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)
  • the Private School Universe Survey (PSS)
  • More data and programs are planned in the future.

Tai Phan, School District Demographic System Survey Area and Census Mapping Lead at NCES
“MapED is a valuable resource. The data has always been available but the ability to narrow down hundreds of Census demographic indicators over multiple years, starting out with a topic of interest; and then visualize it on a national map down to the district or school level is a new and powerful way to make it accessible to a much wider audience.

-Tai Phan, Census Mapping Lead at NCES

MapED also features a series of  Story Maps that will be released in the coming months. The initial release features Story Maps exploring school bullying on the basis of race, sex, and disability as well as public school student performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) from 2003 to 2013. Future releases will include additional story maps including school enrollment by race comparisons using ACS data.

Map Ed Storymap on Bullying

MapED is developed using the ArcGIS API for JavaScript and ArcGIS Server and uses .NET web services to automate the addition of new data each year. Esri JavaScript templates and ArcGIS Online both support the development of story maps.

To learn more about the project and view the application, visit NCES MapED.


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