IES Blog

Institute of Education Sciences

The 2017 Condition of Education Report

By Peggy Carr, Acting Commissioner of NCES

I am pleased to announce the release of the 2017 Condition of Education, 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 50 indicators on topics ranging from prekindergarten through postsecondary education, as well as labor force outcomes and international comparisons. 

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 a key finding or set of findings from each indicator. The report contains a Reader’s GuideGlossary, and a Guide to Data Sources that provide additional information to help place the indicators in context. In addition, each indicator references the data tables that were used to produce the indicator, most of which are on the Digest of Education Statistics website.

In addition to the regularly-updated annual indicators, this year’s report highlights innovative data collections and analyses from across the Center with a series of spotlight indicators. Selected findings include:

  • Student risk factors (poverty and low parent educational attainment) at kindergarten entry are associated with lower academic achievement in kindergarten through grade 3;
  • 2.5 percent of students in U.S. public elementary and secondary schools were reported as homeless in 2014-15. The percentage of students reported as homeless ranged from 2.0 percent in suburban school districts to 2.4 percent in rural districts, 2.6 percent in town districts, and 3.7 percent in city districts;
  • Among first-time college students in 2011-12, the percentage of students who were still enrolled or had graduated after 3 years was higher for students who began at 4-year institutions (80 percent) than for those who began at 2-year institutions (57 percent); and
  • 16 percent of 25- to 64-year-olds who had not completed high school had one or more disabilities in 2015, compared to 4 percent of those who had completed a bachelor’s degree and 3 percent of those who had completed a master’s or higher degree. Adults with disabilities were far less likely to be employed and far more likely to not be in the labor force compared to their peers without disabilities. Among those who had obtained higher levels of education, the differences between adults with and without disabilities were smaller.

In addition, two indicators provide insights from the Center’s recent work on technology in education. The first previews key findings from the Center’s upcoming report, Student Access to Digital Learning Resources Outside of the Classroom. For example, the percent of students who use the Internet at home varied by parental education level in 2015, ranging from 42 percent for children whose parents had not completed high school to 71 percent for those whose parents had completed a bachelor’s or higher degree.  The second shows that in 2014 female students scored higher than male students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress’s 8th-grade Technology and Engineering Literacy assessment.

As new data are released, indicators will be updated and made available on the Condition of Education website. In addition, the Center 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 us online or follow us on Twitter and Facebook. You can also watch the video below for more information on the Condition of Education report.

Where can I find information about the condition of education in the United States?

By Grace Kena

The National Center for Education Statistics submits a report to Congress on the condition of education every year by June 1st. The Condition of Education provides a comprehensive look at the state and progress of education in the United States. Although The Condition of Education was first produced in 1975, the origins of the report date back to the creation of the first federal department of education in 1867. Its first major publication, the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Education, covered data for 1869-70. Today’s Condition of Education report is presented to Congress and the White House annually. In addition, the indicators are updated regularly online, with a convenient site designed for mobile devices. By visiting The Condition of Education website, you can access the latest indicators, download the full Congressional report for the current and prior years, and watch short videos about recent findings and highlights.

The Condition of Education covers early childhood through postbaccalaureate education, and addresses topics relevant to a broad spectrum of education stakeholders. The report contains text and graphics on dozens of educational indicators that describe student characteristics, participation in special programs, achievement, completion rates, as well as characteristics of teachers, schools, and colleges. Economic indicators show the success that students have in finding employment after their education, and present information on their earnings. In addition to core indicators of perennial interest and supplemental indicators on other special topics, the Condition features spotlight indicators with an in depth focus on emerging issues and new data. Taken together, these indicators provide valuable information about the progress of our education system in addressing such key policy concerns as improving graduation rates, closing gaps in student achievement, and promoting educational equity.

For more information and access to the indicators, see The Condition of Education 2016. You can also learn more about The Condition of Education in the video below, or see other videos on specific topics of interest on the NCES YouTube Channel.

This blog was originally posted on June 1, 2015 and was updated on May 26, 2016

My Brother’s Keeper: Using data to measure the educational progress of boys and young men of color

By Grace Kena

In February 2014, President Obama launched My Brother’s Keeper. This effort was designed to promote opportunity for and to unlock the full potential of the nation’s young people, including boys and young men of color, with help from government agencies, community leaders, private philanthropies, and businesses. As part of this initiative, federal agencies were asked to improve the accessibility of data that highlight both the challenges and the accomplishments of young people in progressing through the education system and entering the labor force. These statistics provide a composite view of recent trends for males and females across a variety of key dimensions.

Academic performance gaps in learning behaviors, knowledge, and skills, among children in various racial/ethnic groups are found as early as infancy,[1] preschool, and kindergarten[2]. In addition, children from lower-income families tend to have poorer educational outcomes than their peers from more well- off families, and relatively high percentages of males and females of color live in poverty. The latest data show that among 12th graders, the average reading and mathematics assessment scores for Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native 12th-graders were lower than the average scores for their peers. In addition, the percentage of Hispanic 18- to 24-year-olds who had not completed high school was higher than the average percentage. The percentages of Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native young men in this age group who were enrolled in college were also lower than the average, and the percentages of Black and Hispanic young men ages 25–29 who had earned a bachelor’s or higher degree were lower than the average for young men in this age group.

On the other hand, young people are making progress in education. For example, average mathematics scores increased between 2005 and 2013 for all male students as well as for Black and Hispanic students overall. The percentage of males ages 18–24 who had not completed high school decreased from 2000 to 2014 for most racial/ethnic groups, and the decreases for Black and Hispanic young men were among the largest. In addition, the percentages of Black and Hispanic young men in this age group who were enrolled in college increased from 2000 to 2013.


Percentage of male 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in 2- and 4-year colleges, by race/ethnicity: 2000 and 2013

Figure. Percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in 2- and 4-year colleges, by race/ethnicity and sex: 2013

! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2013. 


More education data from the My Brother’s Keeper initiative can be found in the feature in The Condition of Education 2015, and on the My Brother’s Keeper data site. Information on changes to existing programs and the creation of new public-private partnerships designed to meet the needs of young people are available on the White House site. You can also learn more about the findings from the video below:

This blog was originally posted on June 24, 2015 and was updated on August 6, 2015

[1] National Center for Education Statistics. The Condition of Education 2009, Indicators 2 and 3. 

[2] Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2013. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. 

 

Children’s approaches to learning and academic achievement in the early grades

By Grace Kena

Children’s skills early in school are of interest to educators and policy makers due, in part, to their association with school achievement in the later grades. NCES assesses children’s knowledge and measures their skills through data collections such as the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010–11 (ECLS-K:2011).

This study collected information from a sample of students at kindergarten entry as well as from their parents and their teachers, and will continue to follow the students through the early elementary grades. Through the ECLS-K:2011, NCES conducted direct assessments and gathered information related to other aspects of students’ development, including socioemotional development and approaches to learning. As part of the study, students’ teachers were asked to report on how the kindergartners approached learning by examining and reporting on seven behaviors: paying attention, persisting in completing tasks, showing eagerness to learn new things, working independently, adapting easily to changes in routine, keeping belongings organized, and following classroom rules.

Findings from The Condition of Education 2015 show that first-time kindergartners who demonstrated these positive learning behaviors “very often” in the fall of kindergarten had higher average reading and mathematics assessment scores than kindergartners who demonstrated these behaviors less often. First-time kindergartners who “never” exhibited the seven approaches to learning behaviors in the fall of kindergarten not only scored lower in reading and mathematics in the fall than children who had more positive learning approaches, but they continued to score lower than the other groups when the children were assessed again in the spring of their kindergarten year and in the spring of their first grade year.


Average mathematics scale scores of fall 2010 first-time kindergartners, by frequency of positive approaches to learning behaviors in fall of kindergarten year: Fall 2010, spring 2011, and spring 2012

Figure. Average mathematics scale scores of fall 2010 first-time kindergartners, by frequency of positive approaches to learning behaviors in fall of kindergarten year: Fall 2010, spring 2011, and spring 2012

NOTE: Possible scores for the mathematics assessments range from 0 to 96. Frequency of positive approaches to learning behaviors is derived from kindergartners' fall 2010 Approaches to Learning scale scores.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, ECLS-K:2011. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 220.40.


As an example of these differences, the average fall kindergarten mathematics score for students who “very often” showed positive learning behaviors was 36 points, compared to 18 points for children who “never” demonstrated positive learning behaviors. When measured again in the spring of the kindergarten year, the average mathematics score for children who had “never” demonstrated positive learning behaviors at the beginning of the kindergarten year (29 points) remained below the fall average score for those children who had exhibited positive approaches to learning “very often.”

For more information on approaches to learning and kindergarten and first grade achievement, including breakdowns for children of different demographic groups, see the spotlight on this topic in The Condition of Education 2015, or watch the video below.