This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and 155 years since the creation of a federal agency to collect and report education statistics for the United States, a role now fulfilled by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). To celebrate both of these anniversaries, NCES has just released a new commemorative report—A Retrospective Look at U.S. Education Statistics—that explores the history and use of federal education statistics.
The 11 statistical profiles in phase I of this report can be found within two tabs: Elementary and Secondary Education and Postsecondary Education. Users can toggle between these two tabs and then select a particular statistical profile in the drop-down menu, such as Number of Elementary and Secondary Schools, High School Coursetaking, Enrollment in Postsecondary Institutions, and Postsecondary Student Costs and Financing.
Each of the statistical profiles in this report is broken down into the following sections:
- what the statistic measures (what the data may indicate about a particular topic)
- what to know about the statistic (the history of the data collection and how it may have changed over time)
- what the data reveal (broad historical trends/patterns in the data, accompanied by figures)
- more information (reference tables and related resources)
Each statistical profile can be downloaded as a PDF, and each figure within a profile can be downloaded or shared via a link or on social media.
For background and context, this report also includes a Historical Event Timeline. In this section, readers can learn about major periods of prolonged economic downturn, periods of military action, and periods when U.S. troops were drafted as a part of military action—as well as major pieces of federal legislation—and how some of these events could have disrupted the nation’s social life and schooling or impacted education across the country.
The report also includes a brief overview of NCES, which can be accessed by expanding the dark blue bar labeled NCES Overview: Past, Present, and Future. This section covers the history of NCES and its mission, the evolution of NCES reports and data collections, and current and future changes to NCES’s reporting methods.
This commemorative guide to federal education statistics is not intended to be a comprehensive report on the subject but rather a resource that provides an in-depth look at a selection of statistics. Stay tuned for the release of phase II next year, which will include additional statistical profiles. Be sure to follow NCES on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube and subscribe to the NCES News Flash to stay up-to-date!
By Megan Barnett, AIR