The locale codes used in this paper come directly from the National Center for Education Statistics. Locale codes represent how far away a particular school is from an urbanized area, and are based on a school’s physical street address.[45] According to the NCES, the geographic information used to create locale codes is updated for about one-third of communities every year.

Verbatim definitions of each locale code category are below:

Graphic 10: NCES Locale Code Definitions (Verbatim From Original)[46]

Locale Code

Verbatim NCES Description

City: Large

Territory inside an urbanized area and inside a principal city with population of 250,000 or more.

City: Midsize

Territory inside an urbanized area and inside a principal city with population less than 250,000 and greater than or equal to 100,000.

City: Small

Territory inside an urbanized area and inside a principal city with population less than 100,000.

Suburb: Large

Territory outside a principal city and inside an urbanized area with population of 250,000 or more.

Suburb: Midsize

Territory outside a principal city and inside an urbanized area with population less than 250,000 and greater than or equal to 100,000.

Suburb: Small

Territory outside a principal city and inside an urbanized area with population less than 100,000.

Town: Fringe

Territory inside an urban cluster that is less than or equal to 10 miles from an urbanized area

Town: Distant

Territory inside an urban cluster that is more than 10 miles and less than or equal to 35 miles from an urbanized area.

Town: Remote

Territory inside an urban cluster that is more than 35 miles from an urbanized area.

Rural: Fringe

Census-defined rural territory that is less than or equal to 5 miles from an urbanized area, as well as rural territory that is less than or equal to 2.5 miles from an urban cluster.

Rural: Distant

Census-defined rural territory that is more than 5 miles but less than or equal to 25 miles from an urbanized area, as well as rural territory that is more than 2.5 miles but less than or equal to 10 miles from an urban cluster.

Rural: Remote

Census-defined rural territory that is more than 25 miles from an urbanized area and is also more than 10 miles from an urban cluster.


* Some of this language also appears previously published Mackinac Center studies.