IES Blog

Institute of Education Sciences

NCES's Top Hits of 2020

As we wrap up what has been an unprecedented year in many ways, we’re taking a look back at some of NCES’s most popular content from 2020. As you reflect on the past year, we hope you’ll explore our most downloaded reports, most visited indicators, Fast Facts, and blog posts, and most viewed tweets over the past year. 

 

Top Five Reports, by number of PDF downloads

1. Condition of Education 2020 (7,328)

2Digest of Education Statistics 2018 (4,936)

3. Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups 2018 (3,379)

4. Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2019 (2,994)

5. First-Generation Students: College Access, Persistence, and Postbachelor’s Outcomes (2,382)

 

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

1. Students With Disabilities (82,304)

2. Public High School Graduation Rates (66,993)

3. Education Expenditures by Country (61,766)

4. English Language Learners in Public Schools (46,293)

5. Undergraduate Enrollment (46,766)

 

Top Five Fast Facts, by number of web sessions

1. Back to School Statistics (214,148)

2. Tuition Costs of Colleges and Universities (111,491)

3. College and University Endowments (78,735)

4. Degrees Conferred by Race and Sex (73,980)

5. Closed Schools (69,142)

 

Top Five Blog Posts, by number of web sessions

1. Introducing the 2020 Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) and Its Website (7,822)

2. Back to School by the Numbers: 2019–20 School Year (4,400)

3. Free or Reduced Price Lunch: A Proxy for Poverty? (4,199)

4. Educational Attainment Differences by Students’ Socioeconomic Status (2,919)

5. The Digital Divide: Differences in Home Internet Access (2,699)

 

Top Five Tweets, by number of impressions

1. Teacher Appreciation Day (21,146)

 

2. International Education Week (18,333)

 

3. Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2019 (17,383)

 

4. International Early Learning Study 2018 Pilot (10,870)

 

5. NAEP Data Training Workshop (10,782)

 

Be sure to check our blog site and the NCES website to stay up-to-date on new findings and trends in 2021. You can also follow NCES on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for daily updates and content.

2020 Edition of America’s Children Report Explores Differences in Children’s Well-Being by Metropolitan Status

Each year, NCES contributes data and insights to America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, an annual report produced by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. The Forum assembles 23 federal agencies to collaboratively present the public with policy-relevant statistics related to America’s children and their families.

The 2020 edition of America’s Children in Brief examines indicators of children’s well-being in the following domains: demographic background, family and social environment, economic circumstances, health care, physical environment and safety, behavior, education, and health. This year’s report has a special focus on differences by metropolitan status,[1] giving readers a closer look at how measures of well-being vary based on the type of community in which children and their families live.

For example, the report includes information and federal data about birth rates among adolescent mothers, adolescent alcohol use, and adolescent depression and how these data vary by geographic area. Some key highlights of these topics are below:

  • The birth rate among females ages 15–19 was 17 per 1,000 in 2018.
    • The birth rate was highest for adolescents living in rural counties (26 per 1,000), followed by those living in micropolitan counties (24 per 1,000) and metropolitan counties (16 per 1,000).
       
  • In 2019, 4 percent of 8th-, 9 percent of 10th-, and 14 percent of 12th-grade students reported binge drinking.
    • Binge drinking was reported by 18 percent of 12th-grade students living in nonmetropolitan areas compared with 14 percent of 12th-grade students living in metropolitan areas.
       
  • In 2018, 14 percent of the population ages 12–17 had at least one major depressive episode during the past year.
    • This percentage did not differ by metropolitan status (14 percent in metropolitan areas, 15 percent in micropolitan areas, and 13 percent in rural areas).

The 2020 edition also presents new NCES data on differences in high school completion rates by metropolitan status. Many entry-level jobs and colleges/universities require applicants to produce a high school diploma or its equivalent. Thus, measuring how high school completion rates vary across time and for different groups of students is important since they are strongly related to future income.[2]

In 2018, among young adults ages 18–24 who lived in metropolitan areas, 94 percent had completed high school with a diploma or an alternative credential, such as a GED certificate (figure 1). This rate was higher than the 89 percent completion rate for young adults living in nonmetropolitan areas. Furthermore, the high school completion rate for young adults who lived in metropolitan areas increased from 91 percent in 2010 to 94 percent in 2018. The completion rate for young adults who lived in nonmetropolitan areas was not measurably different between these two years (88 percent in 2010 and 89 percent in 2018).


Figure 1. Percentage of young adults ages 18–24 who have completed high school, by metropolitan status: 2010 and 2018

NOTE: Diploma equivalents include alternative credentials obtained by passing examinations such as the General Educational Development (GED) test. This figure excludes those still enrolled in high school or enrolled in a lower education level. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget classifies some counties as within a metropolitan statistical area. The remaining counties are considered nonmetropolitan. Nonmetropolitan counties include counties in micropolitan statistical and rural areas. Total includes those whose household metropolitan status was “not identified,” which is not separately shown.

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, School Enrollment Supplement.


With the 2020 publication of America’s Children in Brief, the Forum continues two decades of collaboration among agencies across the federal government to advance readers’ understanding of children and youth throughout the country.

To access to the full report that examines these differences in more detail, visit childstats.gov. Be sure to follow the Forum on Twitter @childstats to keep up with Forum activities, and check back next year for new insights into America’s children from reliable federal statistical agencies like NCES.

 

By Amanda Dean, AIR


[1] For information about how metropolitan status is defined in this report, read the “Geographic Classifications” section in the introduction to the report.

[2] Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (n.d.) High school graduation [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/social-determinants-health/interventions-resources/high-school-graduation.

Due to COVID Pandemic, NCES to Delay National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Assessment

Due to the impact of the COVID pandemic on school operations, it will not be possible for NCES to conduct the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) assessments in accordance with the statutory requirements defined by the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA) which requires NAEP to be conducted in a valid and reliable manner every 2 years (20 U.S.C. 9622(b)(2)(B)).

NCES has been carefully monitoring physical attendance patterns in schools across the county. I have determined that NCES cannot at this time conduct a national-level assessment (20 U.S.C. 9622(b)(2)(A)) in a manner with sufficient validity and reliability to meet the mandate of the law. Too many students are receiving their education through distance learning or are physically attending schools in locations where outside visitors to the schools are being kept at a minimum due to COVID levels. The NAEP assessments are a key indicator of educational progress in the United States with trends going back decades. The change in operations and lack of access to students to be assessed means that NAEP will not be able to produce estimates of what students know and can do that would be comparable to either past or future national or state estimates.




As Commissioner for Education Statistics, I feel it would be in the best interests of the country and keeping with the intent of ESRA (20 U.S.C. 9622(b)(2)(B)) to postpone the next NAEP collection to 2022. By postponing the collection, we are allowing time for conditions on the ground to stabilize before attempting a large-scale national assessment. Further, if we attempted to move forward with a collection in 2021 and failed to produce estimates of student performance, we would not only have spent tens of millions of dollars, but also will not by law be able to conduct the next grades four and eight reading and mathematics assessments until 2023. By postponing to 2022, we will be more likely to get reliable national and state NAEP results closer to the statutorily prescribed timeline than if we attempt and fail to collect the data in 2021.

Additionally, delaying the next NAEP assessment to early 2022 will reduce the burden this year on schools, allowing time for the states to conduct their own state assessments this spring. To create comparable results, NAEP is conducted during the same time window across the country each time it is given. This was impractical as COVID infection rates differ greatly from state to state during any one time. NAEP also uses shared equipment and outside proctors who go into the schools to ensure a consistent assessment experience across the nation. I was obviously concerned about sending outsiders into schools and possibly increasing the risk of COVID transmission.

State assessments, however, generally use existing school staff and equipment; thus, eliminating this additional risk associated with NAEP. Therefore, while having nationally comparable NAEP data to estimate the impact of the COVID pandemic on educational progress would be ideal but impossible, there is still an opportunity to get solid state-by-state data on the impact of COVID on student outcomes. This state-level data can serve as a bridge until Spring 2022 when NCES will likely be able to conduct the national NAEP assessment in a manner that has sufficient validity and reliability. 

 

By James L. Woodworth, NCES Commissioner

Building Bridges: Increasing the Power of the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) Through Data Linking With an ID Crosswalk

On October 15, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released the 2017–18 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). The CRDC is a biennial survey that has been conducted by ED to collect data on key education and civil rights issues in our nation’s public schools since 1968. The CRDC provides data on student enrollment and educational programs and services, most of which are disaggregated by students’ race/ethnicity, sex, limited English proficiency designation, and disability status. The CRDC is an important aspect of the overall strategy of ED’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to administer and enforce civil rights statutes that apply to U.S. public schools. The information collected through the CRDC is also used by other ED offices as well as by policymakers and researchers outside of ED.  

As a standalone data collection, the CRDC provides a wealth of information. However, the analytic power and scope of the CRDC can be enhanced by linking it to other ED and government data collections, including the following:

A Crosswalk to Link CRDC Data to Other Data Collections

To facilitate joining CRDC data to these and other data collections, NCES developed an ID crosswalk. This crosswalk is necessary because there are instances when the CRDC school ID number (referred to as a combo key) does not match the NCES school ID number assigned in other data collections (see the “Mismatches Between ID Numbers” section below for reasons why this may occur). By linking the CRDC to other data collections, researchers can answer questions that CRDC data alone cannot, such as the following:



Mismatches Between ID Numbers

Mismatches between CRDC combo key numbers and NCES ID numbers may occur because of differences in how schools and districts are reported in the CRDC and other collections and because of differences in the timing of collections. Below are some examples.

  • Differences in how schools and school districts are reported in the CRDC and other data collections:
    • New York City Public Schools is reported as a single district in the CRDC but as multiple districts (with one supervisory union and 33 components of the supervisory union) in other data collections. Thus, the district will have one combo key in the CRDC but multiple ID numbers in other data collections.
    • Sometimes charter schools are reported differently in the CRDC compared with other data collections. For example, some charter schools in California are reported as independent (with each school serving as its own school district) in the CRDC but as a single combined school district in other data collections. Thus, each school will have its own combo key in the CRDC, but there will be one ID number for the combined district in other data collections.
    • There are differences between how a state or school district defines a school compared with how other data collections define a school.
  • Differences in the timing of the CRDC and other data collections:
    • There is a lag between when the CRDC survey universe is planned and when the data collection begins. During this time, a new school may open. Since the school has not yet been assigned an ID number, it is reported in the CRDC as a new school.


Interested in using the ID crosswalk to link CRDC data with other data collections and explore a research question of your own? Visit https://www.air.org/project/research-evaluation-support-civil-rights-data-collection-crdc to learn more and access the crosswalk. For more information about the CRDC, visit https://ocrdata.ed.gov/.

 

By Jennifer Sable, AIR, and Stephanie R. Miller, NCES

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.