Increasing the educational attainment of U.S. residents has become a primary goal of state and national higher education policy over the last decade. States can track their progress using annual updates from the American Community Survey, but these are often used without noting the often large margin of error associated with the results, especially for smaller states or race/ethnic groups.
This online tool uses Tableau public software to illustrate the trends in attainment rate, along with margin of error (at a 90% confidence level) from 2006-2013. Viewers should note both whether results have changed over time and whether current attainment rates are significantly different from those in the past.
(Click Here for Mobile Version)
Source & Methodology
The U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 1-year Sample, Public Use Microdata Sample, 2006 – 2013.
To estimate a margin of error for an attainment rate, standard errors were first calculated for both degree holders (numerator) and population (denominator) by race/ethnicity, age group, degree level, and state using the 80 replicated weights provided in PUMS files. Then each standard error was multiplied by 1.645 to derive the margin of error for both the numerator and the denominator of the attainment rate. Finally, the margin of error for the attainment rate was estimated based on these two margins of error, using the formula provided by the U.S. Census Bureau (“A Compass for Understanding and Using American Community Survey Data”, page A-14 to A-15, “Calculating MOEs for Derived Proportions”).
The U.S. Census Bureau has warned researchers that an estimate drawn from PUMS files is slightly different from the same estimate published in American FactFinder, which tabulates data from the original ACS dataset. This is because PUMS files includes only 2/3 of the original dataset in order to protect the privacy of survey respondents. More detailed information about a discrepancy between PUMS and ACS estimates can be found here.
“Asian Alone” – residents whose race is coded as Asian Alone in PUMS file without any Hispanic origin.
“Black or African American Alone” – residents whose race is coded as Black or African American Alone in PUMS file without any Hispanic origin.
“Hispanic or Latino” – residents with any Hispanic origin (HISP code in PUMS file is other than “01”), regardless of their race group.
“White Alone” – residents whose race is coded as White Alone in PUMS file without any Hispanic origin.
“Other” – any other residents who are not included in the race/ethnicity groups above, such as American Indian Alone, Alaska Native Alone, Some Other Races Alone, Two or More Major Race Groups, American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes Specified, American Indian or Alaska Native, Not Specified and No Other Races.
“Some College” – residents whose SCHL code is “10” (Some College, but less than 1 year) or “11” (One or More Years of College, No Degree) in PUMS 2006 and 2007, or “18” (Some college, but less than 1 year) or “19” (1 or more years of college credit, no degree) in PUMS 2008 and after.
“Graduate or Professional Degree” – residents whose SCHL code is “14” (Master’s degree), “15” (Professional school degree), or “16” (Doctorate degree) in PUMS 2006 and 2007, or “22” (Master’s degree), “23” (Professional degree beyond a bachelor’s degree), or “24” (Doctorate degree) in PUMS 2008 and after.