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School Locale

"Urban/Rural" Classification of Schools and Local Education Agencies (LEAs)

The "urban/rural" status of Schools and Local Education Agencies (LEA), are indicated in the Excel files containing the locale codes available from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The Excel files are located in the links below.

The locale codes are from the NCES's Common Core of Data (CCD) Public Elementary/Secondary School Locale Code File and the Local Education Agency (School District) Locale Code File. Local Education Agency locale codes are based on the School locale codes.

The urban-centric locale code system of 12 locale codes replaced the 8 metro-centric locale codes. The urban-centric categories include 'city' and 'suburban' classified by population size into small, midsize and large, and 'town' and 'rural' classified by proximity to an urbanized area into fringe, distant and remote.

The codes are explained on the reference sheet in the excel file below:

Related Links:

The NCES Web site provides more details about locale codes as well as school district rural locale status with NCES Locale Classifications and Criteria.

The NCES Web site for Rural Education in America discusses urban/rural classification systems, and provides tables for state-by-state comparisons.

You can also use the NCES Web site to do a Search for Public Schools and display the characteristics from the Common Core of Data (CCD) for a particular school. The search will include the Locale Code as part of the display.   Search for public schools 

The method of classification of the community type may vary from one survey to another, typically collapsing the locale codes into the four major categories of city, suburban, town and rural,  according to The Condition of Education 2008, Appendix 2 Supplemental Notes, Supplemental Note 1: Commonly Used Variables, under Community Type, page 193. 

The NCES makes available other School District Demographics from the 2000 Census. Files can be downloaded.  Census school district files

For additional information, please contact:
Division of Data Quality 
Pennsylvania Department of Education
333 Market Street | Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333 
Phone: 717.787.2644 | Fax: 717.787.3148
Ra-DDQDataCollection@pa.gov