This category includes people of compulsory school attendance age or above who were not enrolled in school and were not high school graduates. These people may be referred to as "high school dropouts." There is no restriction on when they "dropped out" of school; therefore, they may have dropped out before high school and never attended high school.
Since 1999, the American Community Survey question does not have the response category for "Vocational, technical, or business school degree" that the 1996-1998 American Community Surveys question had. Starting in 1999, the American Community Survey question had two categories for some college: "Some college credit, but less than 1 year" and "1 or more years of college, no degree." The 1996-1998 American Community Survey question had one category: "Some college but no degree."
In the 1996-1998 American Community Survey, the educational attainment question was used to estimate level of enrollment. Since 1999, a question regarding grade of enrollment was included.
The 1999-2007 American Community Survey attainment question grouped grade categories below high school into the following three categories: "Nursery school to 4th grade," "5th grade or 6th grade," and "7th grade or 8 grade." The 1996-1998 American Community Survey question allowed a write-in for highest grade completed for grades 1-11 in addition to "Nursery or preschool" and "Kindergarten."
Beginning in 2008, the American Community Survey attainment question was changed to the following categories for levels up to "Grade 12, no diploma," "Nursery school," "Kindergarten," "Grade 1 through grade 11," and "12th grade, no diploma." The survey question allowed a write-in for the highest grade completed for grades 1-11. In addition, the category that was previously "High school graduate (including GED)" was broken into two categories: "Regular high school diploma" and "GED or alternative credential." The term "credit"
for the two some college categories was emphasized. The phrase "beyond a bachelor's degree"
was added to the professional degree category.
Limitation of the Data
Beginning in 2006, the population in group quarters (GQ) is included in the ACS. Some types of GQ populations may have educational attainment distributions that are different from the household population. The inclusion of the GQ population could therefore have a noticeable impact on the educational attainment distribution. This is particularly true for areas with a substantial GQ population.
The Census Bureau tested the changes introduced to the 2008 version of the educational attainment question in the 2006 ACS Content Test. The results of this testing show that the changes may introduce an inconsistency in the data produced for this question as observed from the years 2007 to 2008, see "2006 ACS Content Test Evaluation Report Covering Educational Attainment" on the ACS website (http://www.census.gov/acs
New questions were added to the 2008 ACS Computer-Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI) and Computer-Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) instruments. Respondents who received a high school diploma, GED or equivalent also were asked if they
had completed any college credit. Therefore, data users may notice a decrease in the number of high school graduates relative to previous years because those people are now being captured in the "Some college credit, but less than 1 year of college credit" or "1 or more years of college credit, no degree" categories. For more information, see "Evaluation Report Covering Educational Attainment" from the 2006 ACS Content Test. Go to http://www.census.gov
and enter "2006 ACS Content Test Evaluation Report Covering Educational Attainment" in the search box.
Data about educational attainment also are collected from the decennial Census and from the Current Population Survey (CPS). ACS data are generally comparable to data from the Census. For more information about the comparability of ACS and CPS data, please see the Educational Attainment Fact Sheet at https://www.census.gov/topics/education/educationalattainment/guidance/factsheet-acs-cps.html
. More information about the comparability of ACS and CPS data can also be found in the paper "Comparison of ACS and ASEC Data on Educational Attainment: 2004" on the ACS website. Go to http://www.census.gov
and enter the paper title in the search box.