IES Blog

Institute of Education Sciences

Measuring “Traditional” and “Non-Traditional” Student Success in IPEDS: Data Insights from the IPEDS Outcome Measures (OM) Survey Component

This blog post is the second in a series highlighting the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Outcome Measures (OM) survey component. The first post introduced a new resource page that helps data reporters and users understand OM and how it compares to the Graduation Rates (GR) and Graduation Rates 200% (GR200) survey components. Using data from the OM survey component, this post provides key findings about the demographics and college outcomes of undergraduates in the United States and is designed to spark further study of student success using OM data.

What do Outcome Measures cohorts look like?

OM collects student outcomes for all entering degree/certificate-seeking undergraduates, including non-first-time (i.e., transfer-in) and part-time students. Students are separated into eight subcohorts by entering status (i.e., first-time or non-first-time), attendance status (i.e., full-time or part-time), and Pell Grant recipient status.1 Figure 1 shows the number and percentage distribution of degree/certificate-seeking undergraduates in each OM subcohort from 2009–10 to 2012–13, by institutional level.2

Key takeaways:

  • Across all cohort years, the majority of students were not first-time, full-time (FTFT) students, a group typically referred to as “traditional” college students. At 2-year institutions, 36 percent of Pell Grant recipients and 16 percent of non-Pell Grant recipients were FTFT in 2012–13. At 4-year institutions, 43 percent of Pell Grant recipients and 44 percent of non-Pell Grant recipients were FTFT in 2012–13.
  • Pell Grant recipient cohorts have become less “traditional” over time. In 2012–13, some 36 percent of Pell Grant recipients at 2-year institutions were FTFT, down 5 percentage points from 2009–10 (41 percent). At 4-year institutions, 43 percent of Pell Grant recipients were FTFT in 2012–13, down 5 percentage points from 2009–10 (48 percent).

Figure 1. Number and percentage distribution of degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students in the adjusted cohort, by Pell Grant recipient status, institutional level, and entering and attendance status: 2009–10 to 2012–13 adjusted cohorts

Stacked bar chart showing the number and percentage distribution of degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students by Pell Grant recipient status (recipients and non-recipients), institutional level (2-year and 4-year), and entering and attendance status (first-time/full-time, first-time/part-time, non-first-time/full-time, and non-first-time/part-time) for 2009–10 to 2012–13 adjusted cohorts

NOTE: This figure presents data collected from Title IV degree-granting institutions in the United States. Percentages may not sum to 100 due to rounding.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Outcome Measures component final data (2017­–19) and provisional data (2020).


What outcomes does Outcome Measures collect?

The OM survey component collects students’ highest credential earned (i.e., certificate, associate’s, or bachelor’s) at 4,3 6, and 8 years after entry. Additionally, for students who did not earn a credential by the 8-year status point, the survey component collects an enrollment status outcome (i.e., still enrolled at the institution, enrolled at another institution, or enrollment status unknown). Figure 2 shows these outcomes for the 2012–13 adjusted cohort.

Key takeaways:

  • The percentage of students earning an award (i.e., certificate, associate’s, or bachelor’s) was higher at each status point, with the greatest change occurring between the 4- and 6-year status points (a 7-percentage point change, from 32 percent to 39 percent).
  • At the 8-year status point, more than a quarter of students were still enrolled in higher education: 26 percent had “transferred-out” to enroll at another institution and 1 percent were still enrolled at their original institution. This enrollment status outcome fills an important gap left by the GR200 survey component, which does not collect information on students who do not earn an award 8 years after entry.

Figure 2. Number and percentage distribution of degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students, by award and enrollment status and entry status point: 2012–13 adjusted cohort

Waffle chart showing award status (certificate, associate’s, bachelor’s, and did not receive award) and enrollment status (still enrolled at institution, enrolled at another institution, and enrollment status unknown) of degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students, by status point (4-year, 6-year, and 8-year) for 2012–13 adjusted cohort

NOTE: One square represents 1 percent. This figure presents data collected from Title IV degree-granting institutions in the United States.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Outcome Measures component provisional data (2020).


How do Outcome Measures outcomes vary across student subgroups?

Every data element collected by the OM survey component (e.g., cohort counts, outcomes by time after entry) can be broken down into eight subcohorts based on entering, attendance, and Pell Grant recipient statuses. In addition to these student characteristics, data users can also segment these data by key institutional characteristics such as sector, Carnegie Classification, special mission (e.g., Historically Black College or University), and region, among others.4 Figure 3 displays the status of degree/certificate-seeking undergraduates 8 years after entry by each student subcohort within the broader 2012–13 degree/certificate-seeking cohort.

Key takeaways:

  • Of the eight OM subcohorts, FTFT non-Pell Grant recipients had the highest rate of earning an award or still being enrolled 8 years after entry. Among this subcohort, 18 percent had an unknown enrollment status 8 years after entry.
  • Among both Pell Grant recipients and non-Pell Grant recipients, full-time students had a higher rate than did part-time students of earning an award or still being enrolled 8 years after entry.
  • First-time, part-time (FTPT) students had the lowest rate of the subcohorts of earning a bachelor’s degree. One percent of FTPT Pell Grant recipients and 2 percent of FTPT non-Pell Grant recipients had earned a bachelor’s degree by the 8-year status point.

Figure 3. Number and percentage distribution of degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students 8 years after entry, by Pell Grant Recipient status, entering and attendance status, and award and enrollment status: 2012–13 adjusted cohort

Horizontal stacked bar chart showing award (certificate, associate’s, and bachelor’s) and enrollment statuses (still enrolled at institution, enrolled at another institution, and enrollment status unknown) of degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students by Pell Grant recipient status (recipients and non-recipients), institutional level (2-year and 4-year), and entering and attendance status (first-time/full-time, first-time/part-time, non-first-time/full-time, and non-first-time/part-time) for 2012–13 adjusted cohort

 

NOTE: This figure presents data collected from Title IV degree-granting institutions in the United States. Percentages may not sum to 100 due to rounding.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Outcome Measures component provisional data (2020).


How do Outcome Measures outcomes vary over time?

OM data are comparable across 4 cohort years.5 Figure 4 shows outcomes of degree/certificate-seeking undergraduates 8 years after entry from the 2009–10 cohort through the 2012–13 cohort for so-called “traditional” (i.e., FTFT) and “non-traditional” (i.e., non-FTFT) students.

Key takeaways:

  • For both traditional and non-traditional students, the percentage of students earning an award was higher for the 2012–13 cohort than for the 2009–10 cohort, climbing from 47 percent to 51 percent for traditional students and from 32 percent to 35 percent for non-traditional students.
  • The growth in award attainment for traditional students was driven by the share of students earning bachelor’s degrees (30 percent for the 2009–10 cohort vs. 35 percent for the 2012–13 cohort).
  • The growth in award attainment for non-traditional students was driven by the share of students earning both associate’s degrees (15 percent for the 2009–10 cohort vs. 16 percent for the 2012–13 cohort) and bachelor’s degrees (13 percent for the 2009–10 cohort vs. 15 percent for the 2012–13 cohort).

Figure 4. Number and percentage distribution of degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students 8 years after entry, by first-time, full-time (FTFT) status and award and enrollment status: 2009–10 to 2012–13 adjusted cohorts

Stacked bar chart showing award status (certificate, associate’s, and bachelor’s) and enrollment status (still enrolled at institution, enrolled at another institution, and enrollment status unknown) of degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students 8 years after entry by first-time, full-time status (traditional or first-time, full-time students and non-traditional or non-first-time, full-time students) for 2009–10 to 2012–13 adjusted cohorts

NOTE: This figure presents data collected from Title IV degree-granting institutions in the United States. “Non-traditional” (i.e., non-first-time, full-time) students include first-time, part-time, non-first-time, full-time, and non-first-time, part-time subcohorts. Percentages may not sum to 100 due to rounding.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Outcome Measures component final data (2017–2019) and provisional data (2020).


To learn more about the IPEDS OM survey component, visit the Measuring Student Success in IPEDS: Graduation Rates (GR), Graduation Rates 200% (GR200), and Outcome Measures (OM) resource page and the OM survey component webpage. Go to the IPEDS Use the Data page to explore IPEDS data through easy-to-use web tools, access data files to conduct your own analyses like those presented in this blog post, or view OM web tables.  

By McCall Pitcher, AIR


[1] The Federal Pell Grant Program (Higher Education Act of 1965, Title IV, Part A, Subpart I, as amended) provides grant assistance to eligible undergraduate postsecondary students with demonstrated financial need to help meet education expenses.

[2] Due to the 8-year measurement lag between initial cohort enrollment and student outcome reporting for the Outcome Measures survey component, the most recent cohort for which data are publicly available is 2012–13. Prior to the 2009–10 cohort, OM did not collect cohort subgroups by Pell Grant recipient status. Therefore, this analysis includes data only for the four most recent cohorts.

[3] The 4-year status point was added in the 2017–18 collection.

[4] Data users can explore available institutional variables on the IPEDS Use the Data webpage.

[5] For comparability purposes, this analysis relies on data from the 2017–18 collection (reflecting the 2009–10 adjusted cohort) through the 2020–21 collection (reflecting the 2012–13 adjusted cohort). Prior to the 2017–18 collection, OM cohorts were based on a fall term for academic reporters and a full year for program reporters.

Research Roundup: NCES Celebrates Women’s History Month

In observation of Women’s History Month, this blog post presents NCES findings on the learning experiences of female students throughout their education careers as well as the characteristics of female teachers and faculty.

K–12 Education

  • In 2019, a larger percentage of U.S. female 12th graders (51 percent) than male 12th graders (42 percent) reported that they were somewhat or more likely to pursue a career in science. Explore more science assessment data from NAEP.
     
  • In 2017–18, women made up 89 percent of public school teachers at the elementary level, 72 percent at the middle school level, and 60 percent at the high school level. Explore more data about elementary and secondary school teachers by sex.

Postsecondary Education

Resources to Learn More

  • Undergraduate Enrollment (Condition of Education indicator): Learn how undergraduate female enrollment changed between 2009 and 2019.
     
  • Table 318.10 (Digest of Education Statistics): Explore how the number of degrees awarded to female students has changed since academic year 1869–70.
     
  • International Data Explorer (IDE): Learn about the education of women and girls across the world.


By Kyle Argueta, AIR

New Projected Data Through 2030 to Be Included in Digest of Education Statistics

NCES is excited to announce the inclusion of new projected data as part of the Digest of Education Statistics: 2021. These new data include projections of education statistics through 2030 and account for impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Since 1964, NCES has produced the Projections of Education Statistics, which includes statistics ranging from elementary/secondary enrollment to teacher counts to postsecondary degrees earned. To produce these estimates, NCES uses models that apply historical trends in education to forecasted trends in demographics and the economy.

Each edition of the Projections provides revisions to estimates from the year before. These revisions can be the result of designed model improvements or incidental changes to the underlying data that feed the models. With the long-term impacts of the pandemic uncertain, NCES made minimal changes to the projection models in favor of consistency (for more information on how these forecasts have been produced historically, see the Technical Appendixes). However, due to the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic, changes to underlying data were more pronounced than usual.

For example, enrollment levels—particularly during compulsory elementary and secondary grades—are strongly determined by the size of the school-aged population. NCES’s projections rely on population projections, which are licensed from IHS Markit. IHS Markit’s population projections reflect a decline in birth rates during the coronavirus pandemic.1 These population projections will impact projected enrollment levels as smaller birth cohorts mature to school age.

Specifically, Digest table 203.10 reports projected data for enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools by grade over time. Between fall 2019 and fall 2020, total public school enrollment dropped by 3 percent (figure 1). By 2030, total public school enrollment is projected to decrease another 4 percent. However, public school enrollments are projected to be higher in 2021 than they were in 2020. Although public school enrollment is not projected to return to 2019 levels, it is projected to remain higher than 2020 levels through 2024. In other words, the projected decrease in public school enrollments over the next decade is not a direct continuation of the pandemic-related drop observed between fall 2019 and fall 2020. Rather, it is primarily a reflection of changes in the school-age population.


Figure 1. Annual percentage change in enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools: Fall 2010 to fall 2030

NOTE: Data are for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Data include both traditional public schools and public charter schools. Data include imputations for nonreported prekindergarten enrollment in California for fall 2019 and 2020 and in Oregon for fall 2020. Data include imputations for nonreported enrollment for all grades in Illinois for fall 2020.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/Secondary Education," 2010–11 through 2020–21. See Digest of Education Statistics 2021, table 203.10.


The relationship between population and enrollment in elementary and secondary grades can be seen even more clearly by comparing projected enrollments for different grade levels. Children conceived during the pandemic will begin to age into first grade in large numbers beginning in 2027. In contrast, no children conceived during the pandemic will have aged into grade 9 by the end of the projection period in 2030. Figure 2 shows a pronounced dip in public school enrollment in grade 1 in 2027 and 2028, which is not present at grade 9. Specifically, public school enrollment in grade 1 is projected to be 8 percent lower in both 2027 and 2028 than in 2026. Meanwhile, the difference in these years for grade 9 is less than 1 percent (rounds to 0 percent). This is a direct reflection of projected declines in birth rates during the pandemic and the relationship between the school-age population and enrollment levels.


Figure 2. Enrollment in public schools, by selected grade: Fall 2010 through fall 2030

NOTE: Data are for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Data include both traditional public schools and public charter schools. The total ungraded counts of students were prorated to prekindergarten through grade 8 and grades 9 through 12 based on the known grade-level distribution of a state. Data include imputations for nonreported prekindergarten enrollment in California for fall 2019 and 2020 and in Oregon for fall 2020. Data include imputations for nonreported enrollment for all grades in Illinois for fall 2020. Some data have been revised from previously published figures.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/Secondary Education," 2010–11 through 2020–21. See Digest of Education Statistics 2021, table 203.10.


All of NCES’s projections are heavily impacted by population forecasts. In addition, certain statistics—such as public school expenditures and postsecondary enrollments—are also shaped by economic forecasts. Like their population projections, IHS Markit’s economic forecasts have also factored in effects of the pandemic. This is another way in which forthcoming projections of education statistics account for pandemic-related impacts.

Digest tables featuring additional projections will be released on a rolling basis throughout the year. Be sure to bookmark this page for the most up-to-date tables.

Explore the first batch of tables from Digest 2021 with projected data:

  • Enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools, by level and grade: Selected years, fall 1980 through fall 2030 (table 203.10)
  • Enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools, by region, state, and jurisdiction: Selected years, fall 1990 through fall 2030 (table 203.20)
  • Public school enrollment in prekindergarten through grade 8, by region, state, and jurisdiction: Selected years, fall 1990 through fall 2030 (table 203.25)
  • Public school enrollment in grades 9 through 12, by region, state, and jurisdiction: Selected years, fall 1990 through fall 2030 (table 203.30)
  • Enrollment and percentage distribution of enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools, by race/ethnicity and region: Selected years, fall 1995 through fall 2030 (table 203.50)
  • Enrollment and percentage distribution of enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools, by race/ethnicity and level of education: Fall 1999 through fall 2030 (table 203.60)
  • Public and private elementary and secondary teachers, enrollment, pupil/teacher ratios, and new teacher hires: Selected years, fall 1955 through fall 2030 (table 208.20)
  • Current expenditures and current expenditures per pupil in public elementary and secondary schools: 1989–90 through 2030–31 (table 236.15)


Explore previous editions of the Projections of Education Statistics.

 

By Véronique Irwin, NCES


[1] Declines in birth rates during the coronavirus pandemic have also been shown by government agencies including Census and the National Center for Health Statistics (as cited by Census).

Research Roundup: NCES Celebrates Black History Month

Looking at data by race and ethnicity can provide a better understanding of education performance and outcomes than examining statistics that describe all students. In observation of Black History Month, this blog presents NCES findings on the learning experiences of Black students throughout their education careers as well as the characteristics of Black teachers and faculty.

K–12 Education

  • Students
    • Of the 49.4 million students enrolled in public preK–12 schools in fall 2020, 7.4 million were Black students. 


       
    • In 2019–2020, some 9 percent of private school students were Black non-Hispanic.
       
    • In 2019, some 51 percent of Black 8th-grade students were in a school that reported offering a programming class. Eighty-four percent of Black 8th-grade students were in a school that offered algebra classes that were equivalent to high school algebra classes.
       
  • Teachers
    • In 2017–18, about 7 percent of all public school teachers self-identified as Black, compared with 3 percent of all private school teachers.
       
    • Twelve percent of all female career or technical education (CTE) public school teachers were Black women in 2017–18.
       
    • In 2017–18, about half of Black or African American teachers (51 percent) taught in city schools, compared with 31 percent of all teachers. 
       
    • Black or African American teachers had a higher rate of post-master’s degree education (13 percent) than did all teachers (9 percent) in 2017–18.
       
    • In 2017–18, about two-thirds (66 percent) of Black or African American teachers taught in the South, compared with 39 percent of all teachers.

 

Postsecondary Education

  • Students
    • Female enrollment at HBCUs has been higher than male enrollment in every year since 1976.
       
    • In fall 2019, nearly 2.5 million Black students were enrolled in a degree-granting postsecondary institution, compared with the 1.0 million who were enrolled in fall 1976.
       
    • In 2019–20, postsecondary institutions awarded 55,642 STEM degrees/certificates to Black students.


       
  • Faculty and Institutions
    • In fall 2019, there were 27,323 full-time Black female faculty members at degree-granting postsecondary institutions, compared with 19,874 Black male faculty members.
       
    • In fall 2020, there were 101 degree-granting Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) located in the 50 states, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands—52 public institutions and 49 private nonprofit institutions.
       

By Kyle Argueta, AIR

 

Research Roundup: NCES Celebrates Native American Heritage Month

Looking at data by race and ethnicity can provide a better understanding of education performance and outcomes than examining statistics that describe all students. In observation of Native American Heritage Month, this blog presents NCES findings on the learning experiences of American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) students throughout their education careers.

Early Childhood Education

  • In 2019, 45 percent of AI/AN 3- to 4-year-olds and 83 percent of AI/AN 5-year-olds were enrolled in school.
     

K12 Education

  • The 2019 National Indian Education Study (NIES) surveyed students, teachers, and school principals about the experiences of AI/AN students in 4th and 8th grades.
     
    • How much do AI/AN students know about their culture?
      • Most 4th-grade AI/AN students reported having at least “a little” knowledge of their AI/AN tribe or group, with 17 percent reporting knowing “nothing.” About 19 to 23 percent reported having “a lot” of cultural knowledge across school types. (For more information, see NIES 2019, p. 11.)
         
    • Where do AI/AN students learn about their culture?
      • Family members were identified as the people who taught students the most about AI/AN history, with 45 percent of 4th-grade students and 60 percent of 8th-grade students so reporting. Teachers were the second most commonly identified group of people important for educating students on AI/AN cultural topics. (For more information, see NIES 2019, p. 12.)
         
    • How do teachers contribute to AI/AN student cultural knowledge?
      • A majority of AI/AN students had teachers who integrated AI/AN culture or history into reading lessons: overall, 89 percent of 4th-grade students and 76 percent of 8th-grade students had teachers who reported using these concepts in reading lessons “at least once a year.” (For more information, see NIES 2019, p. 16.)
         
    • What are AI/AN student trends on assessments in mathematics and reading?
      • Nationally, mathematics scores for AI/AN students from 2015 to 2019 remained unchanged for 4th-graders and declined for 8th-graders. Most states saw no change. (For more information, see NIES 2019, p. 46.)
         
  • In 2019, 52 percent of AI/AN 4th-grade students had access to a computer at home. (For more information, see NIES 2019, p. 45.)
     
  • There were 505,000 AI/AN students enrolled in public schools in 1995, compared with 490,000 AI/AN students in fall 2018 (the last year of data available).
     
  • In fall 2018, less than half of AI/AN students (40 percent) attended schools where minority students comprised at least 75 percent of the student population.
     
  • There are approximately 45,000 American Indian/Alaska Native students served by approximately 180 Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools located on 64 reservations in 23 states.
     
  • In school year 2018–19, the adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) was 74 percent for AI/AN public school students. The ACGRs for AI/AN students ranged from 51 percent in Minnesota to 94 percent in Alabama and were higher than the U.S. average in eight states (Texas, Virginia, Louisiana, Tennessee, Connecticut, New Jersey, Alabama, and Kentucky).
     
  • In 2020, 95 percent of 25- to 29-year-olds who were AI/AN had completed at least high school.

 

Postsecondary Education

  • In academic year 2018–19, 14 percent of bachelor’s degrees conferred to AI/AN graduates were in a STEM field.
     
  • About 41 percent of AI/AN 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