IES Blog

Institute of Education Sciences

Announcing the Condition of Education 2018 Release

We are pleased to present The Condition of Education 2018, a congressionally mandated annual report summarizing the latest data on education in the United States. This report is designed to help policymakers and the public monitor educational progress. This year’s report includes 47 indicators on topics ranging from prekindergarten through postsecondary education, as well as labor force outcomes and international comparisons. 

In addition to the regularly updated annual indicators, this year’s spotlight indicators highlight new findings from recent NCES surveys. The first spotlight indicator examines the choices and costs that families face as they select early childhood care arrangements. Drawing on data from the NCES National Household Education Survey, the indicator finds that early childhood care expenses were higher in 2016 than in 2001. For example, families’ average hourly out-of-pocket expenses for center-based care were 72 percent higher in 2016 ($7.60) than in 2001 ($4.42), in constant 2016–17 dollars. The indicator also finds that in 2016, some 57 percent of children under the age of 6 had parents who reported there were good choices for child care where they lived. Among children whose parents reported difficulty finding child care in 2016, some 32 percent cited cost as the primary reason. The complete indicator, Early Childhood Care Arrangements: Choices and Costs, contains more information about how these findings varied by family income, race/ethnicity, locale (urban, suburban, town, or rural), and children’s age.


Average hourly out-of-pocket child care expense for children under 6 years old and not yet in kindergarten whose families paid for child care, by primary type of child care arrangement: 2001 and 2016

1 Center-based arrangements include day care centers, Head Start programs, preschools, prekindergartens, and childhood programs.
NOTE: Estimates include only those children whose families paid at least part of the cost out of pocket for their child to receive nonparental care at least weekly.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Early Childhood Program Participation Survey of the National Household Education Surveys Program (ECPP-NHES: 2001 and 2016). See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 202.30c.


The second spotlight describes the characteristics of teachers who entered the teaching profession through an alternative route to certification program. Compared to those who entered through a traditional route, higher percentages of alternative route teachers in 2015–16 were Black (13 vs. 5 percent), Hispanic (15 vs. 8 percent), of Two or more races (2 vs. 1 percent), and male (32 vs. 22 percent), and lower percentages were White (66 vs. 83 percent). Overall, 18 percent of public school teachers in 2015–16 had entered teaching through an alternative route to certification program. The percentages were higher among those who taught career or technical education (37 percent), natural sciences (28 percent), foreign languages (26 percent), English as a second language (24 percent), math and computer science (22 percent), and special education (20 percent). The analysis also examines how the prevalence of alternative route teachers varies between charter schools and traditional public schools, between high and low poverty schools, and between schools that enroll high or low percentages of racial/ethnic minority students. For more findings from this analysis of data from the National Teacher and Principal Survey, see the complete indicator, Characteristics of Public School Teachers Who Completed Alternative Route to Certification Programs.


Percentage distribution of public elementary and secondary school teachers, by route to certification and race/ethnicity: 2015–16

NOTE: Teachers were asked whether they entered teaching through an alternative route to certification program, which is a program that was designed to expedite the transition of nonteachers to a teaching career (for example, a state, district, or university alternative route to certification program). Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Data for American Indian/Alaska Native teachers who entered teaching through a traditional route and Pacific Islander teachers who entered teaching through traditional and alternative routes round to zero and are not displayed.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), “Public School Teacher Data File,” 2015–16. See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 209.24.


The third spotlight presents data on average student loan balances for students completing graduate degrees. Using data from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, this indicator examines how average student loan balances changed between 1999–2000 and 2015–16, and how those trends varied by degree type. Among graduate school completers who had student loans for undergraduate or graduate studies, average student loan balances increased for all degree types (in constant 2016–17 dollars). For example, average student loan balances for students who completed research doctorate degrees, such as a Ph.D., doubled during this time period, from $53,500 to $108,400 (an increase of 103 percent). Average student loan balances increased by 90 percent for those who completed professional doctorate degrees, such as medical doctorates and law degrees (from $98,200 to $186,600). The complete indicator, Trends in Student Loan Debt for Graduate School Completers, also describes how average student loan balances varied among specific degree programs, such as medical doctorates, law degrees, and master’s degrees in business administration.


Average cumulative student loan balance for graduate school completers, by degree type: Selected years, 1999–2000 through 2015–16

1 Includes chiropractic, dentistry, law, medicine, optometry, pharmacy, podiatry, and veterinary medicine. 
NOTE: Data refer to students who completed graduate degrees in the academic years indicated. Includes student loans for undergraduate and graduate studies. Average excludes students with no student loans.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1999–2000, 2003–04, 2007–08, 2011–12, and 2015–16 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:2000, NPSAS:04, NPSAS:08, NPSAS:12, and NPSAS:16). See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 332.45.


The Condition includes an At a Glance section, which allows readers to quickly make comparisons within and across indicators, and a Highlights section, which captures key findings from each indicator. The report contains a Reader’s Guide, a Glossary, and a Guide to Sources that provide additional background information. Each indicator provides links to the source data tables used to produce the analyses.

As new data are released throughout the year, indicators will be updated and made available on The Condition of Education website. In addition, NCES produces a wide range of reports and datasets designed to help inform policymakers and the public. For more information on our latest activities and releases, please visit our website or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

By James L. Woodworth, NCES Commissioner 

New Data from the 2015–16 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study

Seventy-two percent of all undergraduate students received some type of financial aid, including loans, in the 2015–16 academic year. For those who received aid, the average was about $12,300 per student. If you want to explore more statistics on student financial aid, you can! NCES has released new data from the 2015–16 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:16). Data users have the ability to generate estimates and perform their own analyses using our online data analysis tools available in DataLab. Users can select the tool that best meets their needs, including PowerStats, QuickStats, and TrendStats.

NPSAS is the most comprehensive nationally representative study of how students and their families finance postsecondary education in the United States. The NPSAS:16 sample consisted of approximately 113,000 undergraduate and graduate students attending 1,800 postsecondary institutions in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

In addition to information on financial aid, the study collects data on many other topics, such as student demographics, total and net prices of attendance, education-related debt, major field of study, employment while enrolled, and participation in remedial education.

To enhance the data and address emerging policy issues, NCES has also included new and expanded items on these topics in NPSAS:16:

  • Financial literacy, including questions to measure understanding of key financial concepts such as inflation, interest rates, and investment, plus questions on the possible consequences for failing to repay federal student loans;
  • Alternative repayment options for federal loans, including awareness of and plans to use income-driven repayment and public service loan forgiveness;
  • Student veterans and military students, including an oversample of student veterans, measures of federal veterans’ education benefits derived from administrative sources, indicators of whether institutions offer programs targeted to veterans and military students, and new measures of state and institution aid specifically for student veterans; and
  • Study abroad, including the location and duration of time spent abroad.

A First Look report, which was released in January, highlighted key findings from the study. For more information on how the study was planned and conducted, including extensive details on sampling, data collection, response rates, weighting, and other topics, we encourage you to see the 2015–16 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:16) Data File Documentation report.

By Tracy Hunt-White

Principals as Instructional Leaders and Managers—Not an “Either-Or”

Recently Morgaen Donaldson (University of Connecticut) and Madeline Mavrogordato (Michigan State), Peter Youngs (University of Virginia), and Shaun Dougherty (University of Connecticut) presented early results from their IES-funded study on principal evaluation policies at the AERA national conference. We asked the team to share their preliminary findings.

What is the purpose of your study?

There is widespread agreement among researchers, policymakers, and practitioners that principals play a critical role in providing high-quality education to students. The role of principals may grow even larger under the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act, which grants districts and states more flexibility regarding how to promote effective principal leadership. However, we know remarkably little about what school districts can do to improve principals’ leadership practices.

Given the importance of principals and the relative dearth of research on how to improve their leadership, we have been studying the extent to which principal evaluation systems focus on learning-centered leadership, one promising conception of leadership, in 22 districts in Connecticut, Michigan, and Tennessee. We are examining associations between the types of leadership emphasized in principal evaluation policies, the leadership practices that principals implement in their schools, and student performance.  

What is the major focus of principal evaluation policies?

To date, through document analysis we have found that district principal evaluation policies heavily emphasize instructional leadership, which focuses on teaching and learning issues, and de-emphasize managerial leadership, which concentrates on administrative tasks such as budgeting and overseeing school facilities. Similarly, in interviews and surveys superintendents and principals report that their evaluation systems focus on instructional leadership. For example, one Michigan superintendent said, “the emphasis on education right now [is] to take the principals away from being a manager to being an instructional leader.”

How are administrators actually interpreting the policies?

Further investigation revealed a more nuanced relationship between written district policies and administrators’ interpretations of these policies, however. We found no relationship between written policies’ emphasis on instructional leadership and principals’ survey responses regarding whether their district focused on this type of leadership. Principals’ perceptions of their district’s focus on managerial leadership was related to the emphasis of this type of leadership in the policies, however. Thus, when districts placed a higher emphasis on managerial leadership in their written evaluation policies, principals reported that they perceived a stronger emphasis on this type of leadership.

Moreover, we found that holding constant the written policy’s emphasis on managerial leadership, there was an inverse relationship between the written policies’ emphasis on instructional leadership and the principals’ perceived policy emphasis on managerial leadership. Thus, the greater the written emphasis on instruction, the less principals perceived that their policy emphasized management.

In addition, interview data reveal that although superintendents state that they emphasize instructional leadership they in fact weigh managerial leadership quite heavily. In superintendents’ framing, a principal’s competence in managerial leadership enabled him or her to practice instructional leadership. Superintendents asserted that when principals addressed managerial concerns, they could progress to exercising instructional leadership. If principals were unable to address managerial issues, superintendents reported that they moved rapidly to intervene and potentially remove principals.

What are the next steps for your IES research project?

These preliminary findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting a complex interplay between managerial and instructional leadership. They also reflect a longstanding tension between the two dominant conceptions of principal leadership among practitioners.  We plan to further examine the multifaceted relationship between instructional and managerial leadership as we continue our work on this project. We are currently surveying teachers about the types of leadership principals exercise in their schools and conducting a second round of interviews with superintendents to understand their perspectives in greater depth. In the next stage of the project, we will examine associations between the types of leadership emphasized in principal evaluation policies, the leadership practices that principals implement in their schools, and student performance in grades 3-8. 

Katina Stapleton, NCER Program Officer, oversees the project described in this blog post, and provided a framework for their responses.

Computerized Preschool Language Assessment Extends to Toddlers

Identifying young children with language delays can improve later outcomes

Language is a core ability that children must master for success both in and out of the classroom. Extensive studies have shown that many tasks, including math, depend on linguistic skill, and that early language skills are predictive of school readiness and academic success. Being able to quickly identify children at early ages with language delays is crucial for targeting effective interventions.

Enter the QUILS.

In 2011, the National Center for Education Research (NCER) at IES funded a 4-year grant to Dr. Roberta Golinkoff (University of Delaware) and Drs. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek (Temple University) and Jill de Villiers (Smith College) to develop a valid and reliable computer-based language assessment for preschoolers aged 3-5 years old. The resulting product was the Quick Interactive Language Screener (QUILS), a computerized tool to measure vocabulary, syntax, and language acquisition skills. The assessment ultimately measures what a child knows about language and how a child learns, and automatically provides results and reports to the teacher.

The preschool version of QUILS is now being used by early childhood educators, administrators, reading specialists, speech-language pathologists, and other early childhood professionals working with young children to identify language delays. The QUILS is also being utilized in other learning domains. For example, a new study relied on the QUILS, among other measures, to examine links between approaches to learning and science readiness in over 300 Head Start students aged 3 to 5 years.

QUILS is now being revised for use with toddlers. In 2016, the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) funded a 3-year study to revise the QUILS for use with children aged 24-36 months. The researchers have been testing the tool in both laboratory and natural (child care centers, homes, and Early Head Start programs) settings to determine which assessment items to use in the toddler version of QUILS. Ultimately, these researchers aim to develop a valid and reliable assessment to identify children with language delays so that appropriate interventions can begin early.

By Amanda M. Dettmer, AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow Sponsored by the American Psychological Association Executive Branch Science Fellowship

NCES Researchers to Give Presentations and Trainings at the American Educational Research Association’s Annual Meeting

NCES staff will give 14 presentations during the American Educational Research Association (AERA) 2018 Annual Meeting on topics ranging from Peer Victimization and Digital Learning to Higher Education and International Comparisons. The meeting takes place from April 12 to 17 and NCES staff will share their expertise in both research presentations and training sessions.

AERA is the nation’s largest professional organization devoted to the scientific study of education, and its annual meeting is the largest gathering of scholars in the field of education research.

The research presentations and training sessions involving NCES staff are listed below. In addition, the NCES booth will be featured at the exhibit hall where attendees can “ask an NCES expert,” learn how NCES data can support their research, or pick up publications and products.

 

Follow us throughout the conference on twitter using @EdNCES and the hashtag #AERA2018.

 

We hope you’ll join us whether in New York or online! A listing of all presentations by NCES staff is shown below. The first three sessions listed are trainings. Registration for the trainings is still open, but space is limited.

 

THURSDAY, APRIL 12

9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Training: Data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010–11 (ECLS-K:2011) at NCES by Jim McCarroll

Sheraton New York Times Square, Lower Level, Flatiron Room


Training: Analyzing Data from International Large-Scale Assessment Using R by Emmanuel Sikali

Sheraton New York Times Square, Lower Level, Bowery Room

 

FRIDAY, APRIL 13

8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Training: Using NAEP Data on the Web for Educational Policy Research by Emmanuel Sikali

Sheraton New York Times Square, Lower Level, Chelsea Room

12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

The Feasibility of Collecting School-Level Finance Data by Stephen Cornman

New York Hilton Midtown, Third Floor, Rendezvous Trianon

Roundtable: Use of Research Evidence in the Era of the Every Student Succeeds Act
 

A Cross-National Comparison of Teacher Attrition in the United States and the Netherlands International Teachers by Lauren Musu-Gillette

New York Hilton Midtown, Third Floor, Trianon Ballroom              

Roundtable: International Teachers

 

SATURDAY, APRIL 14

10:35 a.m. – 12:05 p.m. 

Relationships Between Peer Victimization and Children's Academic Performance in Third Grade by Lauren Musu-Gillette

Crowne Plaza Times Square, Room 1503

Paper Session: Early Childhood Social-Emotional Issues
 

4:05 p.m. – 6:05 p.m.

Career Opportunities Outside Academe and Consultation Allowing Educational Research and Influences on National Policies: The Ronald D. Henderson Topical Table by Peggy Carr

New York Hilton Midtown, Third Floor, Trianon Ballroom

Panel Discussion

 

Implications of Study Findings for the Use of Multimedia-enhanced Stimuli in Assessments by Jing Chen

NCME, Westin New York at Times Square, Room TBD

Symposium: Towards Understanding the Facilitators and Inhibitors in Writing Tasks Containing Multimedia-Enhanced Stimuli

 

SUNDAY, APRIL 15th

8:15 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.

An Overview of Findings from PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) and ePIRLS 2016 by Peggy Carr

New York Marriott Marquis, Fourth Floor, Brecht

Symposium: Findings and Implications from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2016
 

U.S. Achievement on PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) in the Context of NAEP Fourth Grade Reading Achievement by Eunice Greer

New York Marriott Marquis, Fourth Floor, Brecht

Symposium: Findings and Implications from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2016

 

A Deeper Look at PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) and ePIRLS 2016 Results: Status and Trends by Sheila Thompson

New York Marriott Marquis, Fourth Floor, Brecht

Symposium: Findings and Implications from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2016
 

10:35 a.m. – 12:05 p.m.

National Academy of Education Report on Methods and Policy Uses of International Large-Scale Assessments by Peggy Carr

New York Hilton Midtown, Second Floor, Nassau Suite B

Invited speaker

10:35 a.m. to 12:05 p.m.

Meet the Institute of Education Sciences Leadership by James Lynn Woodworth, National Center for Education Statistics/IES, U.S. Department of Education

New York Hilton Midtown, Second Floor, Murray Hill Room West

Invited speaker

6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Statistics in the Age of Ed Tech: Seeking a Deeper Understanding of America’s Digital Divide by Tom Synder

New York Marriott Marquis, Seventh Floor, Harlem

Panel discussion

 

Statistics in the Age of Ed Tech: Seeking a Deeper Understanding of America’s Digital Divide by Halima Adenegan

New York Marriott Marquis, Seventh Floor, Harlem

Panel Discussion

 

MONDAY, APRIL 16th

8:15 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

A New Option to Identify Neighborhood Poverty Measurement of Socioeconomic Status and Related Constructs in Education Contexts by Douglas Geverdt

Westin New York at Times Square, Ninth Floor, Pearl Room

Symposium: Measurement of Socioeconomic Status and Related Constructs in Education Contexts

Serving as Discussant William Ward

Westin New York at Tim Measurement of Socioeconomic Status and Related Constructs in Symposium: Measurement of Socioeconomic Status and Related Constructs in Education Contexts

12:25 p.m. – 1:55 p.m.

State Capacity for Data Use: Findings on the Development and Implementation of Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems by Nancy Sharkey

New York Hilton Midtown, Fourth Floor, New York Suite

Paper Session: Examining the Capacity for Data Use