Data Dictionary: ACS 2006 -- 2010 (5-Year Estimates)
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Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Table: B14006. Poverty Status In The Past 12 Months By School Enrollment By Level Of School For The Population 3 Years And Over [21]
Universe: Population 3 years and over for whom poverty status is determined
Table Details
B14006. Poverty Status In The Past 12 Months By School Enrollment By Level Of School For The Population 3 Years And Over
Universe: Population 3 years and over for whom poverty status is determined
Relevant Documentation:
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2006-2010 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
Poverty Status in the Past 12 Months
Poverty statistics in ACS products adhere to the standards specified by the Office of Management and Budget in Statistical Policy Directive 14. The Census Bureau uses a set of dollar value thresholds that vary by family size and composition to determine who is in poverty. Further, poverty thresholds for people living alone or with nonrelatives (unrelated individuals) vary by age (under 65 years or 65 years and older). The poverty thresholds for two-person families also vary by the age of the householder. If a family's total income is less than the dollar value of the appropriate threshold, then that family and every individual in it are considered to be in poverty. Similarly, if an unrelated individual's total income is less than the appropriate threshold, then that individual is considered to be in poverty.

How the Census Bureau Determines Poverty Status
In determining the poverty status of families and unrelated individuals, the Census Bureau uses thresholds (income cutoffs) arranged in a two-dimensional matrix. The matrix consists of family size (from one person to nine or more people) cross-classified by presence and number of family members under 18 years old (from no children present to eight or more children present). Unrelated individuals and two-person families are further differentiated by age of reference person (RP) (under 65 years old and 65 years old and over).

To determine a person's poverty status, one compares the person's total family income in the last 12 months with the poverty threshold appropriate for that person's family size and composition (see example below). If the total income of that person's family is less than the threshold appropriate for that family, then the person is considered "below the poverty level," together with every member of his or her family. If a person is not living with anyone related by birth, marriage, or adoption, then the person's own income is compared with his or her poverty threshold. The total number of people below the poverty level is the sum of people in families and the number of unrelated individuals with incomes in the last 12 months below the poverty threshold.

Since ACS is a continuous survey, people respond throughout the year. Because the income questions specify a period covering the last 12 months, the appropriate poverty thresholds are determined by multiplying the base-year poverty thresholds (1982) by the average of the monthly inflation factors for the 12 months preceding the data collection. See the table in Appendix A titled "Poverty Thresholds in 1982, by Size of Family and Number of Related Children Under 18 Years (Dollars)," for appropriate base thresholds. See the table "The 2010 Poverty Factors" in Appendix A for the appropriate adjustment based on interview month.

For example, consider a family of three with one child under 18 years of age, interviewed in July 2010 and reporting a total family income of $14,000 for the last 12 months (July 2009 to June 2010). The base year (1982) threshold for such a family is $7,765, while the average of the 12 inflation factors is 2.24574 Multiplying $7,765 by 2.24574 determines the appropriate poverty threshold for this family type, which is $17,438 Comparing the family's income of $14,000 with the poverty threshold shows that the family and all people in the family are considered to have been in poverty. The only difference for determining poverty status for unrelated individuals is that the person's individual total income is compared with the threshold rather than the family's income.

Individuals for Whom Poverty Status is Determined
Poverty status was determined for all people except institutionalized people, people in military group quarters, people in college dormitories, and unrelated individuals under 15 years old. These groups were excluded from the numerator and denominator when calculating poverty rates.

Specified Poverty Levels
Specified poverty levels are adjusted thresholds that are obtained by multiplying the official thresholds by specific factor. Using the threshold cited from the previous example (a family of three with one related child under 18 years responding in July 2010), the dollar value at 125 percent of the poverty threshold was $ 21,798 ($ 17,438x 1.25).

Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2006-2010 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
School Enrollment and Type of School
School enrollment data are used to assess the socioeconomic condition of school-age children. Government agencies also require these data for funding allocations and program planning and implementation.

Data on school enrollment and grade or level attending were derived from answers to Question 10. People were classified as enrolled in school if they were attending a public or private school or college at any time during the 3 months prior to the time of interview. The question included instructions to "include only nursery or preschool, kindergarten, elementary school, home school, and schooling which leads to a high school diploma, or a college degree". Respondents who did not answer the enrollment question were assigned the enrollment status and type of school of a person with the same age, sex, race, and Hispanic or Latino origin whose residence was in the same or nearby area.

School enrollment is only recorded if the schooling advances a person toward an elementary school certificate, a high school diploma, or a college, university, or professional school (such as law or medicine) degree. Tutoring or correspondence schools are included if credit can be obtained from a public or private school or college. People enrolled in "vocational, technical, or business school" such as post secondary vocational, trade, hospital school, and on job training were not reported as enrolled in school. Field interviewers were instructed to classify individuals who were home schooled as enrolled in private school. The guide sent out with the mail questionnaire includes instructions for how to classify home schoolers.

Enrolled in Public and Private School
Includes people who attended school in the reference period and indicated they were enrolled by marking one of the questionnaire categories for "public school, public college," or "private school, private college, home school." The instruction guide defines a public school as "any school or college controlled and supported primarily by a local, county, state, or federal government." Private schools are defined as schools supported and controlled primarily by religious organizations or other private groups. Home schools are defined as "parental-guided education outside of public or private school for grades 1-12." Respondents who marked both the "public" and "private" boxes are edited to the first entry, "public."

Grade in Which Enrolled
From 1999-2007, in the American Community Survey, people reported to be enrolled in "public school, public college" or "private school, private college" were classified by grade or level according to responses to Question 10b, "What grade or level was this person attending?" Seven levels were identified: "nursery school, preschool;" "kindergarten;" elementary "grade 1 to grade 4" or "grade 5 to grade 8;" high school "grade 9 to grade 12;" "college undergraduate years (freshman to senior);" and "graduate or professional school (for example: medical, dental, or law school)."

In 2008, the school enrollment questions had several changes. "Home school" was explicitly included in the "private school, private college" category. For question 10b the categories changed to the following "Nursery school, preschool," "Kindergarten," "Grade 1 through grade 12," "College undergraduate years (freshman to senior)," "Graduate or professional school beyond a bachelor's degree (for example: MA or PhD program, or medical or law school)." The survey question allowed a write-in for the grades enrolled from 1-12.

Question/Concept History
Since 1999, the American Community Survey enrollment status question (Question 10a) refers to "regular school or college," while the 1996-1998 American Community Survey did not restrict reporting to "regular" school, and contained an additional category for the "vocational, technical or business school."
The 1996-1998 American Community Survey used the educational attainment question to estimate level of enrollment for those reported to be enrolled in school, and had a single year write-in for the attainment of grades 1 through 11. Grade levels estimated using the attainment question were not consistent with other estimates, so a new question specifically asking grade or level of enrollment was added starting with the 1999 American Community Survey questionnaire.

Limitation of the Data
Beginning in 2006, the population universe in the American Community Survey includes people living in group quarters. Data users may see slight differences in levels of school enrollment in any given geographic area due to the inclusion of this population. The extent of this difference, if any, depends on the type of group quarters present and whether the group quarters population makes up a large proportion of the total population. For example, in areas that are home to several colleges and universities, the percent of individuals 18 to 24 who were enrolled in college or graduate school would increase, as people living in college dormitories are now included in the universe.

Data about level of enrollment are also collected from the decennial Census and from the Current Population Survey (CPS). ACS data is generally comparable to data from the Census. Although it should be noted that the ACS reference period was 3 months preceding the date of interview, while the Census 2000 reference period was any time since February 1, 2000. For more information about the comparability of ACS and CPS data, please see the link for the Fact Sheet from the CPS School Enrollment page.

Data on school enrollment also are collected and published by other federal, state, and local government agencies. Because these data are obtained from administrative records of school systems and institutions of higher learning, they are only roughly comparable to data from population censuses and surveys. Differences in definitions and concepts, subject matter covered, time references, and data collection methods contribute to the differences in estimates. At the local level, the difference between the location of the institution and the residence of the student may affect the comparability of census and administrative data because census data are collected from and based on a respondent's residence. Differences between the boundaries of school districts and census geographic units also may affect these comparisons.