Special Case: Estimates for Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is included in the Title I fund allocations. Since the commonwealth has no administrative subdivisions, the Department of Education treats it as a single unit (equivalent to a U.S. county and coterminous school district) for the allocation of these funds. In order to incorporate Puerto Rico in the fiscal 1997 fund allocation for school year 1997-1998, estimates of its number and proportion of related children aged 5-17 living in poverty were needed for 1993.
If the allocations for school year 1997-1998 had been based on 1990 census estimates (which the panel did not recommend), the estimates for Puerto Rico could have been obtained straightforwardly from the commonwealth's 1990 decennial census. From that census it is estimated that Puerto Rico had about 558,000 poor related children aged 5-17 in 1989, 66.4 percent of all related children in this age range. However, the panel recommended that the 1997-1998 allocations be based in part on estimates of the number and proportion of school-age children in poverty in 1993, and it was not straightforward to develop such estimates for Puerto Rico.
The Puerto Rico Bureau of Labor Statistics conducts a periodic labor force survey, but that survey does not collect CPS-type income information on a regular basis. In addition, the specific model-based estimation procedures developed by the Census Bureau for U.S. states and counties cannot be applied to Puerto Rico since they are based on tax return and food stamp participation data for which there are no precise equivalents for Puerto Rico.
The only available data source for updating estimates of poor school-age children in Puerto Rico was an experimental March 1995 income survey modeled
after the CPS March Income Supplement. The Census Bureau based its 1993 estimates of poor school-age children on data from this survey, together with data for Puerto Rico from the decennial census and updated population estimates.
The derivation of the estimates of poor school-age children in Puerto Rico in 1993 from these data sources required a number of adjustments, for several reasons: (1) the March 1995 experimental survey did not collect information on the ages of family members under 18 (so that related children aged 5-17 could not be identified among those aged under 18); (2) the updated Puerto Rico population estimates are for all children in the resident population, not for related children only; and (3) the survey, which was conducted in 1995, obtained information on 1994 income, not 1993 income. In making the adjustments, the Census Bureau assumed that certain relationships observed in 1990 census data still applied and that the change in the number of Puerto Rico school-age children in poverty between 1989 and 1994 was linear.
The panel did not have any data with which to test the validity of these assumptions. It had only limited information about the sample design, sampling and nonsampling errors, response rates, and other features of the experimental survey. The sample size of about 3,200 households should be large enough to provide a direct estimate of the number of poor school-age children with adequate precision. However, only limited information was available about other key aspects of data quality, including response rates for households to the income questions and the editing or imputation procedures used.
The Census Bureau computed 1995 estimates for Puerto Rico from data collected in the 1996 Puerto Rican Family Income Survey that was conducted in the commonwealth in February-March 1997. (The survey is planned to be conducted at regular intervals in the future.) Several adjustments had to be made to produce the estimates of school-age children in poverty in 1995. The approach used was similar to that used to compute 1993 estimates of poor school-age children. Additional information was obtained from Puerto Rico about the quality of the income survey that, in general, supported the use of the survey data to develop 1995 estimates of the number of poor school-age children for Puerto Rico (see Santas and Waddington, 1999). Consequently, the panel recommended that the 1995 estimates for Puerto Rico be used in the direct Title I allocations for the 1999-2000 school year.
The Puerto Rico Family Income Survey will presumably be the basis of updated estimates of poor school-age children in Puerto Rico for 1997 and later years. Through cooperative work with Puerto Rico, the Census Bureau should continue its evaluations of the quality of the estimates and their comparability with the model-based estimates for U.S. counties to determine if there are ways in which the data and estimation procedures for Puerto Rico can be improved for use in Title I allocations.