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Institute of Education Sciences

Spotlight on American Education Week, Part 2: Appreciating Public School Educators with the National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS)

Part 2 of the National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS) blog series for American Education Week (AEW) is dedicated to public school teachers in recognition of their significant influence on the educational experiences of students in their classrooms (read part 1 here).

The NTPS collects information directly from public and private school teachers and principals to provide a picture of education in the United States from their perspective. Data from the 2017–18 NTPS can be viewed by state (using the NTPS State Dashboard), allowing public school teachers and principals to compare data from their state to those of their colleagues in other states across the country (note that these data were collected prior to the coronavirus pandemic). NCES and the Census Bureau are currently interviewing schools, principals, and teachers for the 2020–21 NTPS. When the data collection is complete, we will be able to look at changes over time, including changes between experiences before the pandemic and current experiences, both within and across states. 

A few highlighted teacher and principal characteristics from the 2017–18 NTPS can be found below.

AEW Day 4: U.S. Public School Teachers’ Experiences (2017–18 NTPS)

  • Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of public school teachers strongly or somewhat disagreed with the statement “the stress and disappointments involved in teaching at this school aren’t really worth it,” compared with about a quarter (28 percent) of teachers who strongly or somewhat agreed. These data are also available by state.
    • More teachers in high-poverty schools—where 75 percent or more of students were approved for the free or reduced-price lunch (FRPL) program—agreed with the statement (33 percent) than did teachers in low-poverty schools—where 0–34 percent of students were approved for FRPL (24 percent) (figure 1).
    • Of the 99 percent of all public school teachers who had received any professional development during the last school year, 76 percent agreed with the statement “I have sufficient resources available for my professional development.” There are also differences in these data by state.
      • Fewer teachers in high-poverty schools agreed with the statement (75 percent) than did teachers in low-poverty schools (78 percent).

Figure 1. Percentage distribution of teachers, by level of agreement with the statement “The stress and disappointments involved in teaching at this school aren’t really worth it” and FRPL participation rate of K–12 students in their school: 2017–18

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), “Public School Teacher Data File,” 2017–18.


AEW Day 5: Principals as Educators (2017–18 NTPS)

Although day 5 of Americacn Education Week celebrates substitute teachers, NTPS does not collect data on these education professionals. NTPS can, however, be used to understand school staff who have teaching responsibilities outside of their normal assignments. For example, some public school principals also teach regular classes.

  • Across all U.S. public schools, 7 percent of principals also taught one or more regularly scheduled classes at their schools. These principals served for an average of 8 years and taught for an average of 4 years during those 8 years.
    • Principals in the smallest schools (based on student enrollment) taught more often than did principals in larger schools (figure 2).
  • According to the 2016–17 NTPS and the 2016–17 Principal Follow-up Survey (PFS),[1] more than 90 percent of public school principals strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement “I am generally satisfied with being principal at this school.” This percentage, however, varied by the occupational status (i.e., “stayer,” “mover,” “leaver,” or “other”[2]) the principal indicated on the PFS: 83 percent of “stayers,” 6 percent of “movers,” 9 percent of “leavers,” and 2 percent of “others” strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement (figure 3).
  • However, 16 percent of public school principals strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement “the stress and disappointments involved in being a principal at this school arent really worth it.”

Figure 2. Percentage of principals who regularly taught one or more classes, by student enrollment in their school: 2017–18

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), “Public School Principal Data File,” 2017–18.


Figure 3. Percentage of 2015–16 public school principals who reported that they strongly or somewhat agree with statements about job satisfaction, by principals’ 2016–17 occupational status: 2016–17

NOTE: “Stayers” are principals who were principals in the same school in the current school year as in the base year. “Movers” are principals who were still principals in the current school year but had moved to a different school after the base year. “Leavers” are principals who were no longer principals after the base year. “Other” includes principals who had left their base-year school, but for whom it was not possible to determine a mover or leaver status in the current school year. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), “Public School Principal Data File,” 2015–16; and Principal Follow-up Survey (PFS), “Public School Principal Status Data File,” 2016–17.


In honor of American Education Week, NCES would like to thank every parent and/or guardian, education support professional, educator, and principal who makes public education possible for students every day!

The data in this blog would not be possible without the participation of teachers, principals, and school staff in the NTPS. We are currently conducting the 2020–21 NTPS. The data collected this school year will be important for understanding how education has changed during the coronavirus pandemic. If you were contacted about participating in the 2020–21 NTPS and have questions, please email ntps@census.gov or call 1-888-595-1338.

For more information about the National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), please visit https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/ntps/. More findings and details are available in the NTPS school, teacher, and principal reports.

 

By Julia Merlin, NCES

 


[1] The last time the data were collected prior to 2020–21 was in 2016–17.

[2] “Stayers” were public school principals who stayed in the same position at the same school in the year following the NTPS collection or during the PFS collection; “Movers” were public school principals who moved to work as a principal at a different school in the year following the NTPS collection or during the PFS collection; “Leavers” were public school principals who stopped working as a principal in the year following the NTPS collection or during the PFS collection; and “Others” were principals who were no longer at the same school but whose occupational status was unknown.

Understanding School Lunch Eligibility in the Common Core of Data

Every year in the Common Core of Data (CCD), NCES releases data on the number of students eligible for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) meal program that provides nutritionally balanced low-cost or free meals to children during the school day. The program was established under the National School Lunch Act, signed into law by President Harry Truman in 1946, and currently serves nearly 30 million children.

This post highlights substantial changes to the NSLP and related changes in CCD reporting and provides guidance on how to use the NSLP data.

Free or Reduced-Price Lunch vs. Direct Certification

Historically, student eligibility for free or reduced-price lunch (FRPL) was determined through individual students submitting school meals application forms within school districts. In 1986, the USDA introduced a direct certification option to reduce participation barriers in the school meal program. Under direct certification, any child belonging to a household that participates in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), or (in some states) Medicaid—as well as children who are migrant, homeless, in foster care, or in Head Start—are categorically eligible to receive free meals at school.

The NSLP data included in CCD releases include school-level FRPL and direct certification eligibility counts for all public schools with students enrolled. These point-in-time counts are taken on or around October 1 of each school year and reported by the states based on the following guidance: 

  • FRPL-Eligible Students
    • Free lunch students: those eligible to participate in the Free Lunch Program (i.e., those with family incomes below 130 percent of the poverty level or who are directly certified)
    • Reduced-price lunch students: those eligible to participate in the Reduced-Price Lunch Program (i.e., those with family incomes between 130 and 185 percent of the poverty level)
    • Free and reduced-price lunch student: the total of free lunch students and reduced-price lunch students
  • Direct Certification
    • The number of students reported as categorically eligible to receive free meals to the USDA for the FNS 742. Students are categorically eligible to receive free meals if they belong to a household receiving the selected federal benefits noted above or are migrant, homeless, in foster care, or in Head Start.

The count of students eligible for free lunch includes students directly certified plus any students who qualified for free lunch by completing a school meals application. As such, the number of students reported as directly certified should always be less than or equal to the number of free lunch students.

Note that changes in SNAP (both legislated eligibility requirements and temporary changes such as national disasters) can have implications for reported NSLP eligibility as well.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010

In 2010, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) established national nutrition standards for food served and sold in schools and made changes to the NSLP to increase food access. These changes also impacted the NSLP data published through CCD:

  • While direct certification had been an option since 1986, HHFKA mandated that states directly certify NSLP eligibility for at least 95 percent of SNAP participants. With the mandated use of direct certification, several states stopped reporting FRPL eligibility entirely. 
  • HHFKA introduced the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) to expand access to free meals to all students in low-income areas. Schools qualifying under CEP no longer count students who qualify for reduced-price lunch since all students are provided a free lunch. CEP schools may report all students as eligible for free lunch regardless of economic status, since all students are provided a free lunch.

Guidance for Data Users

The NSLP eligibility data published through CCD are often used by researchers as a proxy measure for the number of students living in poverty. However, there are limitations to the usefulness of these data that researchers should consider when using NSLP data.

The NSLP data published through CCD has changed over time. CCD published just FRPL counts through SY 2015–16. Starting in SY 2016–17, states can report FRPL and/or direct certification eligibility counts for each school, and CCD publishes both FRPL and direct certification, as reported by the states.[1]

When creating state and national estimates (including tables in the Digest of Education Statistics), NCES uses FRPL counts when they are available. If FRPL data are not available, direct certification data is used as a proxy. For this type of analysis, NCES includes all schools for which both student enrollment data and FRPL or direct certification were reported. States that only reported direct certification are footnoted. NCES recommends that data users be mindful of the reporting differences when analyzing or drawing conclusions with these data.

The NSLP data meet a variety of critical analysis needs to help policy makers, researchers, and the public target resources and answer policy questions. CCD is the only source of nationwide school-level NSLP data. Explore NSLP data as well as all of the other CCD data elements available either by using the CCD data query tool or by downloading data files directly.

 

By Beth Sinclair, AEM, and Chen-Su Chen, NCES

 


[1] In SY 2018–19, states reported FRPL counts for 95 percent of schools. Five states/jurisdictions reported solely the number of direct certification students (Delaware, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, and American Samoa). The remaining states/jurisdictions were split: about half reported solely the number of FRPL students for each school and the other half reported both FRPL and direct certification for each school (or FRPL for some schools and direct certification for others).

NCES’s Top Hits of 2019

As 2019 comes to an end, we’re taking stock of NCES’s most downloaded reports, most viewed indicators, Fast Facts, and blog posts, and most engaging tweets over the past year. As you reflect on 2019 and kick off 2020, we encourage you to take a few minutes to explore the wide range of education data NCES produces.

 

Top Five Reports, by PDF downloads

1. Condition of Education 2019 (8,526)

2. Condition of Education 2018 (5,789)

3Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups 2018 (4,743)

4. Student Reports of Bullying: Results From the 2015 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey (4,587)

5. Digest of Education Statistics 2017 (4,554)

 

Top Five indicators from the Condition of Education, by number of web sessions

1. Children and Youth With Disabilities (86,084)

2. Public High School Graduation Rates (68,977)

3. Undergraduate Enrollment (58,494)

4. English Language Learners in Public Schools (50,789)

5. Education Expenditures by Country (43,474)

 

Top Five Fast Facts, by number of web sessions

1. Back to School Statistics (227,510)

2. College Graduate Rates (109,617)

3. Tuition Costs of Colleges and Universities (107,895)

4. College Endowments (71,056)

5. High School Dropout Rates (67,408)

 

Top Five Blog Posts, by number of web sessions

1. Free or Reduced Price Lunch: A Proxy for Poverty? (5,522)

2. Explore Data on Mental Health Services in K–12 Public Schools for Mental Health Awareness Month (4,311)

3. Educational Attainment Differences by Students’ Socioeconomic Status (3,903)

4. Education and Training Opportunities in America’s Prisons (3,877)

5. Measuring Student Safety: Bullying Rates at School (3,706)

 

Top Five Tweets, by number of impressions

1. Condition of Education (45,408 impressions)

 

2. School Choice in the United States (44,097 impressions)

 

3. NAEP Music and Visual Arts Assessment (32,440 impressions)

 

4. International Education Week (29,997 impressions)

 

5. Pop Quiz (25,188 impressions)

 

Be sure to check our blog site and the NCES website in 2020 to keep up-to-date with NCES’s latest activities and releases. You can also follow NCES on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for daily updates and content.

 

By Thomas Snyder

NCES Fast Facts Deliver Data to Your Door

By Molly Fenster, American Institutes for Research

Have you ever wondered how many public high school students graduate on time? Or wanted to know the types of safety and security measures schools use, or the latest trends in the cost of a college education? If so, the NCES Fast Facts website has the answers for you!

Launched on March 1, 1999, the Fast Facts site originally included 45 responses to the questions most frequently asked by callers to the NCES Help Line. Today, the more than 70 Fast Facts answer questions of interest to education stakeholders–such as a teacher, school administrator, or researcher–as well as college students, parents, and community members with a specific interest or data need. The facts feature text, tables, figures, and links from various published sources, primarily the Digest of Education Statistics and The Condition of Education, and they are updated periodically with new data from recently released publications and products. 

For example, the screenshot below shows one of the most accessed Fast Facts on high school dropout rates:

Access the site for the full Fast Fact, as well as links to “Related Tables and Figures” and “Other Resources” on high school dropout rates.

The other facts on the site feature a diverse range of topics from child care, homeschooling, students with disabilities, teachers, and enrollment, to graduation rates, educational attainment, international education, finances, and more. The site is organized to provide concise, current information in the following areas:

  • Assessments;
  • Early Childhood;
  • Elementary and Secondary;
  • Library;
  • Postsecondary and Beyond; and
  • Resources.

Five recently released Fast Facts on ACT scores; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education; public school students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch; postsecondary student debt; and Historically Black Colleges and Universities offer the latest data on these policy-relevant and interesting education topics.

Join our growing base of users and visit the Fast Facts site today!

Challenges, changes, and current practices for measuring student socioeconomic status

By Lauren Musu-Gillette

There is an abundance of data and research that shows a relationship between a student’s socioeconomic status (SES) and their academic outcomes. For example, students from low-SES families are far more likely to drop out and far less likely to complete a bachelor’s degree than their peers from middle- and high-SES families.

As we seek to better interpret and understand these and other findings related to student progress, it important for NCES to try to collect accurate and complete measures of student SES.


Percentage distribution of highest level of educational attainment of spring 2002 high school sophomores in 2012, by socioeconomic status (SES)

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002), Base Year and Third Follow-up. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 104.91.


Measures of SES usually combine several different statistics, most commonly family income/wealth, parent educational attainment, and parent occupation.[1] In some surveys, NCES is able to collect data directly from parents in order to measure all these component of SES. However, in many assessments and some surveys, NCES is unable to collect this information directly from parents making it difficult to create a consistent measure of SES across the Center.

NCES staff recognizes both the importance of collecting valid and reliable SES data, and the challenges associated with doing so. For example, between 2010 and 2012, NCES convened a panel of experts in the fields of economics, education, statistics, human development, and sociology who provided information on SES, including theoretical foundations, common components, data collection and measurement approaches, and possible implications of a new measure of SES for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). There are several challenges for NAEP when considering the inclusion of survey items that can be used to measure student SES. Since NAEP does not include a parent survey, student or school-level data is currently the only potential source for data. However, data on SES can be difficult to collect directly from students as many are unable to accurately respond to questions about their family income or the highest level of their parent or parents’ education.

In terms of school-level data, student eligibility for free and reduced price meals has historically been an important indicator of household income. However, recent changes in the way schools are required to record eligibility for free and reduced price meals has required researchers to reconsider the use of this data point  as a measure of family income, or as a proxy, more generally, for SES. A recent NAEP blog on this topic provides additional information on NAEP-specific considerations, but these changes impact data collection efforts across the agency. Additionally, the free and reduced price meals data only reflect income, which is only part of a complete SES measure, and does not differentiate between middle and high SES students.

Given these changes, NCES is working to  identify other variables that could serve as more reliable and valid measures of student SES.  For example, several NCES staff members are involved with the Alternative SES Measure Working Group as part of the National Forum on Education Statistics. This group recently released the Forum Guide to Alternative Measures of Socioeconomic Status in Education Data Systems. This publication presents advantages and disadvantages for eight alternative measures of SES.  These resources are intended to serve as reference tools for education agencies engaged in identifying, evaluating, or implementing alternative SES measures. They are not data collection instruments and do not represent federal reporting requirements.

Collecting data on and examining differences in educational outcomes by student SES is important to both researchers and educators. As data systems evolve and measures of SES change over time, NCES is committed to researching and collecting the best data possible with the resources available.

 

[1] For most NCES surveys, parent educational attainment and parent occupation is based on the highest level achieved by either parent and/or guardian in the household.