IES Blog

Institute of Education Sciences

NCES Welcomes Peggy Carr as Its New Commissioner

On August 24, 2021, President Biden announced the appointment of Dr. Peggy G. Carr as Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) at the U.S. Department of Education. Prior to serving as the Commissioner, Carr was the Associate Commissioner for Assessment at NCES, where she oversaw the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and a portfolio of large-scale international assessments, including the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Carr also served as Acting Commissioner of NCES between 2016 and 2018.

Since joining NCES in the early 1990s, Carr has played a lead role in planning, directing, and managing NAEP and the international assessments through several major milestones, such as the transition from paper-and-pencil assessments to digitally based ones. During her decades-long tenure with NAEP, Carr managed all aspects of its technical infrastructure, including item development, data collections, scoring, psychometrics, analysis, and reporting. Most recently, in January 2021, at the request of Secretary Cardona’s office and in response to an IES Executive Presidential Order to gather data on school openings and modes of instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic, Carr led the development and implementation of the NAEP 2021 Monthly School Survey. The survey reported crucial information on the reopening of schools for in-person learning from February through June of 2021, and it will provide valuable context for understanding student achievement results from the upcoming NAEP assessments in 2022.

Before coming to NCES, Carr served as the chief statistician for the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. While in this role, she applied statistics and survey methods to the field of discrimination in U.S. schools and institutions.

Carr received her B.S. in psychology, with a concentration in statistics, from North Carolina Central University. She earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in developmental psychology from Howard University.

Research Roundup: NCES Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Breaking down data by race and ethnicity can provide a better understanding of education performance and outcomes than examining statistics representative of all students. In observation of Hispanic Heritage Month, this blog presents NCES findings on the learning experiences of Hispanic students throughout their education careers.

Early Childhood Education

  • In 2019, 43 percent of Hispanic 3- to 4-year-olds and 86 percent of Hispanic 5-year-olds were enrolled in school.

 

K12 Education



  • Between 2009 and 2018, the percentage of students enrolled in public schools who were Hispanic increased from 22 to 27 percent.


  • In school year 2018–19, the adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) was 82 percent for Hispanic public school students. The ACGRs for Hispanic students ranged from 60 percent in the District of Columbia to 91 percent in Alabama and West Virginia.
  • Between 2010 and 2020, the percentage of Hispanic 25- to 29-year-olds who had completed at least high school increased by more than 20 percentage points, from 69 to 90 percent.

 

Postsecondary Education

  • In 2007, postsecondary enrollment of Hispanic students surpassed 2.0 million for the first time in history. In 2012, enrollment of Hispanic students surpassed enrollment of Black students, making Hispanic students the largest minority population enrolled in postsecondary education.


  • Between fall 2009 and fall 2019, Hispanic undergraduate enrollment increased by 48 percent (from 2.4 million to 3.5 million students).


  • In 2017–18, there were 99,718 bachelor’s degrees awarded to Hispanic students at Hispanic-serving institutions, which have a full-time undergraduate enrollment that is at least 25 percent Hispanic.


  • In academic year 2018–19, 17 percent of bachelor’s degrees conferred to Hispanic graduates were in a STEM field.
  • About 58 percent of Hispanic students who began seeking a bachelor’s degree full-time at a 4-year institution in fall 2013 completed that degree at the same institution within 6 years.

 

By Mandy Dean, AIR

New Report on the Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Undergraduate Student Experiences in Spring 2020

NCES recently released a report on the experiences of undergraduate students early in the COVID-19 pandemic. The report uses early release data from the 2019–20 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:20) to describe how the pandemic disrupted students’ enrollment, housing, and finances in the spring of 2020. It also discusses how institutions helped students with these issues.

NPSAS:20 student surveys started in March 2020, and items about the COVID-19 pandemic were added in April 2020 to collect information about the effects of the pandemic on students’ educational experiences between January 1 and June 30, 2020. These early release data do not include students who answered before the pandemic questions were added. The data show that 87 percent of students had their enrollment disrupted or changed during this time. Students who experienced disruptions may have withdrawn or taken a leave of absence, had an extended school break, had changes made to their study-abroad program, or had classes cancelled or moved online.

Twenty-eight percent of students had a housing disruption or change, and 40 percent had a financial disruption or change. Students who had a housing disruption had to move or had difficulty finding safe and stable housing. Students who had a financial disruption may have lost a job or income or may have had difficulty getting food; they may have also received financial help from their postsecondary institutions.

The report also provides information about the experiences of students with different characteristics. For example, students with Pell Grants had a similar rate of enrollment disruption (87 percent) as those without them (88 percent). Those with Pell Grants had a lower rate of housing disruption (23 percent) than those without them (31 percent). However, they had a higher rate of financial disruption (48 percent) than their peers without Pell Grants (34 percent).


Figure 1. Percentage of undergraduates who experienced enrollment, housing, or financial disruptions or changes at their institution due to the COVID-19 pandemic, by Pell Grant recipient status: Spring 2020

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2019–20 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:20, preliminary data).


The final NPSAS:20 raw data will be available in late 2022. Sign up for the IES Newsflash to receive announcements about NCES data products.

 

By Tracy Hunt-White

Students’ Internet Access Before and During the Coronavirus Pandemic by Household Socioeconomic Status

The pandemic has focused attention on the resources needed for students to engage equitably in educational opportunities, particularly during remote learning. While access to computers and the internet were important to education prior to the pandemic—as tools for word processing, research, and communication after school hours, or even as the primary means of schooling—they became essential tools for students to remain engaged during the 2020–21 academic year. Reflecting this importance both before and during the pandemic, recent NCES blogs have highlighted data on virtual schools and geographic differences in digital access. This blog presents additional insight on these topics from the Condition of Education 2021. Specifically, it highlights patterns of inequity in access to educational technology by socioeconomic status, both before and during the coronavirus pandemic.

Before the Coronavirus Pandemic

According to the American Community Survey (ACS),1 the higher the level of parental educational attainment, the higher the percentage of 3- to 18-year-olds with home internet access in 2019. For instance, the percentage with home internet access was highest for those whose parents had attained a bachelor’s or higher degree (99 percent) and lowest for those whose parents had less than a high school credential (83 percent) (figure 1).

Similarly, the higher the level of family income, the higher the percentage of 3- to 18-year-olds with home internet access in 2019. Specifically, the percentage with home internet access was highest for those in families in the highest income quarter (99 percent) and lowest for those in families in the lowest income quarter (89 percent) (figure 1).2


Figure 1. Percentage of 3- to 18-year-olds with home internet access and home internet access only through a smartphone, by parental education and family income quarter: 2019

1 Includes those who completed high school through equivalency credentials, such as the GED.
NOTE: Includes only 3- to 18-year-olds living in households (respondents living in group quarters such as shelters, healthcare facilities, or correctional facilities were not asked about internet access). Includes 3- to 18-year-olds who had home internet access only through a smartphone but did not have any of the following types of computers: desktop or laptop, tablet or other portable wireless computer, or “some other type of computer.” Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, American Community Survey (ACS), 2019. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 702.12.


While internet access is nearly universal in the United States (95 percent of all 3- to 18-year-olds had access in 2019), not all families access the internet the same way. Specifically, 88 percent had access through a computer,3 and 6 percent relied on a smartphone for their home internet access.4,5

In 2019, the higher the level of parental educational attainment, the lower the percentage of 3- to 18-year-olds who relied on a smartphone for their home internet access. Similarly, the higher the level of family income, the lower the percentage of 3- to 18-year-olds who relied on a smartphone for their home internet access. For instance, the percentage who relied on a smartphone for their home internet access was lowest for those in families in the highest income quarter (1 percent) and highest for those in families in the lowest income quarter (14 percent) (figure 1).

Taken together with the patterns for overall home internet access, these findings reveal that access only through a smartphone is generally more common for groups with lower rates of internet access overall. Importantly, although smartphones can be useful tools for staying connected, they offer more limited functionality for applications such as word processing or interactive learning platforms. In other words, overall levels of internet access mask further inequities in mode of access, which have implications for whether/how the internet can be used as an educational tool.

During the Coronavirus Pandemic

As students moved en masse to online learning during the pandemic, access to internet-connected devices became a requirement for students to participate effectively in their new learning environments. The pre-pandemic data described above suggest that not all students would have been in a position to take advantage of these remote classrooms, and that this would be true of a higher percentage of students whose parents had lower incomes or lower levels of educational attainment.  

Some schools and districts helped students meet these needs by providing computers or paying for home internet access. Data from the Household Pulse Survey (HPS) show that 59 percent of adults6 with children in the home enrolled in school7 reported that computers were provided by their school or district. This percentage was generally higher for those with lower 2019 household incomes, ranging from 68 percent for adults with household incomes below $25,000 to 50 percent for adults with household incomes over $150,000 (figure 2). A similar pattern was observed for internet access. Overall, 4 percent of adults said internet access was paid for by their students’ district or school, ranging from 8 percent for adults in the lowest household income range to about 1 percent for those in the highest household income range. These patterns are consistent with higher rates of assistance going to families with higher rates of expected need (as indicated in figure 1).


Figure 2. Among adults 18 years old and over who had children under 18 in the home enrolled in school, percentage reporting that computers and internet access were always or usually available and provided or paid for by schools or school districts, by income level: September 2 to 14, 2020

NOTE: Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data. Data in this figure are considered experimental and do not meet NCES standards for response rates. The survey question refers to enrollment at any time during the 2020–21 school year.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Household Pulse Survey, collection period of September 2 to 14, 2020. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, tables 218.85 and 218.90.


Even with this assistance from schools and districts, however, socioeconomic inequalities in students’ access to computers and internet were not eliminated. In general, the percentage of adults who reported that these resources were always or usually available increased with household income. For example, in September 2020, the percentage of adults reporting that computers were always or usually available was highest for the two household income levels at or above $100,000 and lowest for the two household income levels below $50,000. Similarly, the percentage of adults reporting that internet access was always or usually available was higher for the three household income levels at or above $75,000 than for the three household income levels below $75,000.

Both before and during the pandemic, these data show that overall access to education technology in the United States is high. This access is bolstered by widespread access to mobile devices like smartphones and—at least during the 2020–21 academic year—by resources provided by students’ schools and districts, particularly for students from lower socioecnomic backgrounds. Nevertheless, inequalities persist. As the prevalence of technology in education grows, it will be important to continue to track equity not only in access but also in quality of access and frequency and competency of use.

Explore the following resources to learn more about students’ access to, use of, and competency with education technology.

General

Access

  • Condition of Education 2021

Use

Competency

 

By Véronique Irwin, NCES


[1] The American Community Survey (ACS) provides a large monthly sample of demographic, socioeconomic, and housing data comparable in content to the Long Forms of the Decennial Census. Aggregated over time, these data serve as a replacement for the Long Form of the Decennial Census. This section of the blog post uses data from ACS to describe the percentage of 3- to 18-year-olds with home internet access and the percentage with home internet access only through a smartphone in 2019.

[2] The highest quarter refers to the top 25 percent of all family incomes; the middle-high quarter refers to the 51st through the 75th percentile of all family incomes; the middle-low quarter refers to the 26th through the 50th percentile of all family incomes; and the lowest quarter refers to the bottom 25 percent of all family incomes.

[3] Refers to the percentage of 3- to 18-year-olds with home internet access through one or more of the following types of computers: desktop or laptop, tablet or other portable wireless computer, or “some other type of computer.” Includes homes having both smartphones and any of these types of computers.

[4] Refers to the percentage of 3- to 18-year-olds who had home internet access only through a smartphone but did not have any of the types of computers listed in endnote 3.

[5] Detail does not sum to totals because of rounding.

[6] The Household Pulse Survey, conducted by the Census Bureau and other agencies including NCES, gathers information from adults about household educational activities (as well as other topics). Because the data focus on adults, findings from HPS are not directly comparable to those from ACS mentioned above.

[7] According to HPS data, 52 million adults had children under age 18 in the home enrolled in school in September 2020. Overall, two-thirds (67 percent) of these adults reported that classes for their children had moved to a distance learning format using online resources.

New Analysis Reveals Differences in Parents’ Satisfaction With Their Child’s School Across Racial/Ethnic Groups

The National Household Education Surveys (NHES) program collects nationally representative, descriptive data on the educational activities of children and families in the United States. Specifically, NHES’s Parent and Family Involvement in Education (PFI) survey collects data about how families of K–12 students connect to their child’s school. Parents are asked questions about their involvement in and satisfaction with their child’s school as well as school choice.

This blog expands on the PFI First Look report, and more analysis of race and ethnicity in education and early childhood is available in new web tables.

The results from 2019 PFI survey—which was administered before the coronavirus pandemic—show differences across racial/ethnic groups1 in parents’ satisfaction with their child’s school. Overall, White students tended to have parents who were “very satisfied” with their child’s schools, teachers, and academic standards at the highest rates. 

Satisfaction with schools

In 2019, about two-thirds (67 percent) of White students had parents who were “very satisfied” with their child’s school (figure 1). This percentage was higher than the percentages for Hispanic students (64 percent), Asian or Pacific Islander students (61 percent), Black students (59 percent), and “Other race” students2 (57 percent).

A higher percentage of Hispanic students had parents who were “very satisfied” with their child’s school (64 percent) than did Black students (59 percent) and “Other race” students (57 percent).


Figure 1. Percentage of students enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade whose parent/guardian reported being "very satisfied" with the student’s school, by student’s race/ethnicity: 2019

\1\"Other race" includes non-Hispanic students of Two or more races and non-Hispanic students whose parents did not choose any race from the categories provided on the race item in the questionnaire.
NOTE: Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey of the National Household Education Surveys Program (PFI-NHES), 2019.


Satisfaction with teachers

Sixty-six percent of White students had parents who were “very satisfied” with their child’s teachers in 2019 (figure 2). This percentage was higher than the percentages for Hispanic students (62 percent), Black students (60 percent), “Other race” students (58 percent), and American Indian or Alaska Native students (49 percent). The percentage for Asian or Pacific Islander students was not measurably different from the percentages for any other racial/ethnic group.

Figure 2. Percentage of students enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade whose parent/guardian reported being "very satisfied" with the student’s teachers, by student’s race/ethnicity: 2019

\1\"Other race" includes non-Hispanic students of Two or more races and non-Hispanic students whose parents did not choose any race from the categories provided on the race item in the questionnaire.
NOTE: Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey of the National Household Education Surveys Program (PFI-NHES), 2019.


Satisfaction with academic standards

In 2019, about 64 percent of White students had parents who were “very satisfied” with the academic standards of their child’s school (figure 3). This percentage was higher than the percentages for Black students and Hispanic students (60 percent each), Asian or Pacific Islander students (56 percent), and “Other race” students (55 percent). The percentage for American Indian or Alaska Native students was not measurably different from the percentages for any other racial/ethnic group.

Figure 3. Percentage of students enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade whose parent/guardian reported being "very satisfied" with the academic standards of the student's school, by student’s race/ethnicity: 2019

\1\"Other race includes non-Hispanic students of Two or more races and non-Hispanic students whose parents did not choose any race from the categories provided on the race item in the questionnaire.
NOTE: Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey of the National Household Education Surveys Program (PFI-NHES), 2019.


Explore the NHES Table Library to find more data about differences in parents’ satisfaction with their child’s school.


[1] Race categories exclude students of Hispanic ethnicity, which are all included in the Hispanic category.
[2] "Other race" includes non-Hispanic students of Two or more races, and non-Hispanic students whose parents did not choose any race from the categories provided on the race item in the questionnaire..

 

By Rachel Hanson and Jiashan Cui, AIR