What’s New

We’re pleased to announce the latest issue of Stat-Scan, the e-newsletter for dedicated data users.   Feel free to send us feedback or ideas for future stories at comments@econdata.net.

SITE OF THE MONTH:  The NAEP Data Explorer
A Valuable New Tool for Accessing Education Data 
For November, one more education-themed Site of the Month: the National Center for Education Statistics Nation’s Report Card. This powerful web-based query tool helps you construct very detailed analyses of test data for schools throughout the nation.  Drawing from the results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), this site displays test results for 4th, 8th and 12th graders in reading, mathematics, science and writing by region and by state.  The data are very comprehensive and detailed, and critically, the site emphasizes statistical-significance tests:  tables and maps help users clearly since when differences in test scores are–and aren’t–statistically significant.You can access the data through either of two paths.  Most users will want to start with the simplified “Quick Start” system that enables you to get access to the mostly commonly used data.  Once you’ve mastered the basics (or if you have more complex queries) you’ll want to move on to the “Advanced” access system, which gives you more control over the data selections, and the formatting of the results.  You can construct cross-tabulations of data (for example, reading scores by race and ethnicity by parental educational level), and also download results into excel spreadsheets for further display or analysis.  There’s also a very helpful flash-based tutorial with audio and animation that shows you, step-by-step, how to use the system.

One other note, you need to agree to a “Data User Agreement” before accessing this site:  because the site constructs tables on the fly from an underlying database the contains individual test scores, you have to agree not to disclose or use any information that might identify an individual.  Our testing didn’t reveal that this was an issue in common inquiries.

School Choice
State by State Data on School Choice Policies and Accomplishments
The Heritage Foundation provides a summary of the number of charter schools and students enrolled in charter schools for each of the 50 states, along with basic information about the size and performance of public schools in each state.  Because school choice policies vary substantially from state to state, the website also has a summary of key statutes and regulations affecting school choice, along with contact information for advocacy groups and education agencies in each state.
2003 Non-Employer Statistics
Tracking the Self-Employed and Micro-Businesses
Last month, the Census Bureau released the latest version of its annual compilation of non-employer statistics.  Non-employers are businesses that have no paid employees and are subject to federal income tax.  This report identifies the number of non-employer businesses in each state, their aggregate level of sales or receipts, by North American Industry Classification (NAICS) code.  Non-employer businesses include both full-time self-employed entrepreneurs, and persons who run businesses part-time; the universe of businesses counted as non-employers generally includes firms with at least $1,000 in annual receipts.  In all, the data cover more than 18 million establishments with more than 800 billion dollars in gross receipts in 2003.  Most non-employer businesses are sole proprietorships and may or may not be the owner’s principal source of income.
http://www.census.gov/prod/2005pubs/ns0300a01.pdfMicro-business State Estimates
The Association for Enterprise Opportunity has prepared a report combining the non-employer data for 2002 with the estimates of the number of employees working at establishments with fewer than 5 employees.  They’ve published a series of 50 states spreadsheets  with this data at:
Toxic Release Inventory
Detailed Data About Business Activity Lurks in Environmental Records
Toxic waste is nasty stuff, but from the standpoint of the ardent researcher, it does produce at least one valuable by-product:  useful data.  The Environmental Protection Agency monitors the release and management of a wide range of toxic materials used in manufacturing processes around the country–everything from lead and arsenic, to ammonia and nitrates–more than 650 chemicals in all.  The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) is a publicly available EPA database that contains information on toxic chemical releases and other waste management activities reported annually by certain covered industry groups as well as federal facilities. This inventory was established under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA) and expanded by the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990.You can easily search the TRI in a variety of ways.  EPA’s website offers an easy to use TRI-Explorer.  Enter a Zip Code, and you’ll get a listing of total toxic releases in the area.  You can use a drill down map to look at data on releases by state or county, with data presented by toxic or by industry.  You can use the map to identify particular sources of each toxic.  The database also lets you search by industry, and unlike a most government data, identifies the names and addresses of individual companies.
News Flash: Adequate Census Budget Approved
House-Senate Conference Committee Provides Sufficient Funds
On November 4th, a Congressional conference committee approved the House-passed budget of $812 million for the Census Bureau rather than the Senate-passed mark of $727 million. The Census Bureau said that if the lower number passed, it would have been forced to eliminate the American Community Survey, County Business Patterns, and planned improvements in field methods for Census 2010.We are told that the voices of data users across the country made the difference in the outcome. If you were one of those who wrote Congress, feel good in knowing you had a role in saving key data resources for local planning and economic development.
Make Your Voice Heard
Calls for Comments on Federal Data Collection Efforts
Common Core of Data System (National Center for Education Statistics) – comments due November 28, 2005
The Common Core of Data is the NCES universe data collection for finance and nonfinance information about public school districts and schools. Information is collected annually from school districts about the districts and their member schools including enrollment by grade, race/ ethnicity, and gender. Information is also collected about students receiving various types of services such as English Language Learner services. The CCD also collects information about the occurrence of high school dropouts. Information about teachers and staffing is also collected.
Veterans Data
Veterans Day is coming up, and in honor of those who have served our country, EconData.Net offers its own list of links on veterans related information.