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Alternative Schools in U.S. School Districts

Nearly 2,000 school districts in the United States had alternative schools during 2013-14 school year. This data set provides details on the number of students enrolled in alternative schools within each district, as well as comparative metrics on alternative and non-alternative schools within each district, including student-to-teacher ratios, school funding, teacher experience level, access to counseling, graduation rates, and more. 

All data is for the 2013-14 school year unless otherwise noted. The file was created by ProPublica, combining and summarizing several publicly available school-level data sets. Data set does not include information about individual schools. 

The federal data used in our analysis relies on reports from states, which in turn often rely on reports from school districts. While the federal data collection efforts include some verification and data cleaning, the data is only as accurate as states’ record-keeping and reporting allows. 

We identified alternative schools using a school type classification from the Common Core of Data (CCD), compiled by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, with a few modifications. Some charter schools are authorized under their own administrative agency or under an agency other than a regular, local school district. 

We reassigned such schools to the district where they are located geographically, to better capture the number of total and alternative students in each district. The reassignment was done using a geographic crosswalk provided by the Stanford Education Data Archive.

Additional information about using the data is included in the documentation provided with the data download.

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