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MassGIS Data: Massachusetts Schools (Pre-K through High School)

October 2023

This point datalayer shows the locations of pre-K-12 schools in Massachusetts.

Table of Contents



Schools appearing in this layer are those attended by students in pre-kindergarten through high school, based on the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) school profiles database as of October 16, 2023. Categories of schools include public elementary, public secondary, public vocational/technical/agricultural regional, private, charter, and approved and unapproved special education.

The layer is stored in ArcSDE and distributed as SCHOOLS_PT.


For the original layer, a development dataset was generated by address-matching (geocoding) DESE data by the MassDEP GIS Group. Whenever possible, development locations were manually refined using 1990's Aerial Imagery or later vintages of imagery or 1:25,000 USGS digital topographic maps. Internet sources, street atlas information and MassGIS Open Space data were also used to refine development locations. In some cases schools were contacted by phone to verify their locations.

MassGIS completed all subsequent updates by comparing DESE database files to the existing layer. Closed schools were removed and new locations were address-matched and manually refined using current ortho imagery, the school's Web site and other online resources, and/or by contacting the school itself. Attribute discrepancies (school address, principal, grade levels, etc.) between the old and new data were examined and relevant fields were updated, and if the change concerned the physical location of the school, then the point for that record was manually moved to the new location.

For the October 2015 update, an attempt was made to place every point on its building as it appeared in 2013-14 ortho imagery. The August 2018 update included moving points to corresponding points in the Master Address Points.

In the June 2019 update: The public school category (formerly 'PUB' in the TYPE field) was divided into elementary ('ELE'), secondary ('SEC'), and vocational/technical/agricultural regional ('VOC') schools. The PRINCIPAL and FAX fields were dropped from the attribute table.

In the May 2022 update, middle ('MID') and other ('OTH') public school categories were added to the TYPE field. The MID category contains schools administered as a separate entity between the elementary and secondary levels by the overseeing school district. Previously these were categorized as ELE or SEC. The OTH category contains unique educational resources such as virtual schools with some physical location, schools in hospitals, etc.


The Schools datalayer's point attribute table has the following fields:

SCHIDEight-digit DESE Code, a unique identifier for each school assigned by DESE. For districts and schools, the first four digits represent the District Code and the last four digits represent the School Code. The DESE Code is not the same as the Institution codes assigned by the College board for SAT and AP results or the NCES code assigned to Massachusetts schools by the U.S. Department of Education. This field is of type Text, as several IDs begin with zeros to ensure all contain eight characters.
NAMESchool name as provided by DESE, with some refinement by MassGIS for map labeling
ADDRESSSchool's mailing address, as provided by DESE
TOWN_MAILSchool's city or town (in mailing address, as provided by DESE)
TOWNSchool's city or town (physical location, based on MassGIS' Municipalities layer)
ZIPCODESchool's ZIP Code, as provided by DESE
PHONESchool's main phone number, as provided by DESE
GRADESGrade levels offered at the school
TYPEIdentifies school type:
 ELE - Public Elementary
 MID - Public Middle
 SEC - Public Secondary
 OTH - Public Other
 VOC - Public Vocational/Technical/Agricultural Regional High School
 PRI - Private
 CHA - Charter
 SPE - Special Education (Approved)
 SPU - Special Education (Unapproved)
TYPE_DESCText description for the school type (in the TYPE field)
TYPE_DESC2Additional description for the school type; not currently populated
MA_ADDR_IDMaster Address ID from table MAD.MAD_MASTER_ADDRESS for linking to MassGIS' Master Address Database. (Not applicable to data in Boston.)

DESE defines the categories of schools as follows:

Public Schools (All Types)
Public schools are administered by a Public School District, and provide educational services directly to attending students. A Public School District is an administrative unit responsible for managing primary and secondary school services within a defined geographical boundary.

Private School
A non-publicly funded school that provides educational services directly to attending students.

Charter Public School
Public schools that are created by parents, teachers, businesses, and community leaders and have the freedom to organize their activities around a core mission, curriculum, or teaching method. Their autonomy gives them the freedom to create their own budgets and to hire and fire teachers and staff.

Special Educational School (Approved)
Private special education school programs that provide an education for students with disabilities contingent on meeting the requirements of 603 CMR 28.09, "Approval of Public and Private Day and Residential Special Education School Programs" AND 603 CMR 18.00, "Program and Safety Standards for Approved Public or Private Day and Residential Special Education School Programs."

Special Educational School (Unapproved)
Private special education school programs that have not been approved by the Department according to the requirements under 603 CMR 28.09. Students placed by the school district in such programs shall be entitled to the full protections of state and federal special education law and regulation, including but not limited to those protections specified in 603 CMR 28.09 and in 603 CMR 18.00. Such programs and services are provided in appropriate settings by appropriately credentialed staff able to deliver the services on each student's Individualized Education Program (IEP). See http://www.doe.mass.edu/lawsregs/603cmr28.html?section=06 for full details.


MassGIS maintains this datalayer. Updates will be made periodically based on database information from DESE.

When updating the data, MassGIS makes a thorough search in trying to verify physical address locations. However, because of several factors, including: physical address differing from the mailing address (such as a P.O. Box in the mailing address), address information from other sources not existing, and sources that have not been updated, MassGIS encourages input concerning misplaced geographic location of points sent to massgismail@mass.gov. If school attribute information appearing on the School/District Profiles section of the DESE Web site needs to be corrected, please notify the specific school's or district's Directory Administrator. Each District has a Directory Administrator, who is responsible for updating and maintaining the district and school information. School and district profile information may be found by using these search tools, which includes a link to a Geographic Search feature for finding and mapping schools.

In the October 2015 update: Collaborative Program locations were dropped; the special education school type was expanded to differentiate approved and unapproved facilities; the TYPE_DESC and TYPE_DESC2 fields were added; the SCHOOLS_PT_M_LDT (location documentation table) was dropped.

In the August 2018 the MA_ADDR_ID field was added.

Also see the Public School Districts layer.

Date published: October 27, 2023

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