By Amy Rathbun, AIR and Joel McFarland
Previous NCES research has shown that students with family risk factors tend to have lower average scores than their peers on academic assessments. Risk factors can include coming from a low-income family or single-parent household, not having a parent who completed high school, and living in a household where the primary language is not English. How common is it for children entering U.S. kindergartens to have certain types of family risk factors? And, how do children with risk factors at kindergarten entry perform on academic assessments compared to their peers? A new spotlight from The Condition of Education 2017 helps to answer these questions.
The spotlight focuses on children experiencing two types of risk factors - living in poverty (i.e., in households with income below the federal poverty threshold) and not having a parent who completed high school, as well as the combination and lack of the two risk factors. Data come from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010–11 (ECLS-K:2011). During the 2010–11 school year, 6 percent of first-time kindergartners had both risk factors , 18 percent had the single risk factor of living in poverty, and 2 percent had the single risk factor of not having a parent who completed high school. About 75 percent had neither of these two risk factors present during their kindergarten year.
Percentage distribution of fall 2010 first-time kindergartners, by risk factors related to parent education and poverty: School year 2010–11
NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010–11 (ECLS-K:2011), Kindergarten–Third Grade Restricted-Use Data File. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 220.39.
Are there differences in the prevalence of risk factors by student and family characteristics?
There were differences in the prevalence of family risk factors in relation to children’s race/ethnicity, primary home language, and family composition. For instance, it was more common for Hispanic students (15 percent) than for Black and Asian students (8 percent each) to have both risk factors, and these percentages were all higher than the percentage for White students (1 percent). Also, 23 percent of first-time kindergartners whose primary home language was not English had both the risk factor of living in poverty and the risk factor of not having a parent who completed high school, compared with 2 percent of kindergartners whose primary home language was English.
Does children’s performance in reading, math, and science in kindergarten through third grade differ based on risk factors?
Kindergarten students living in poverty and those with no parent that completed high school tended to score lower in reading, mathematics, and science over each of their first four years of school compared to their peers who had neither risk factor at kindergarten entry. For example, in the spring of third-grade, reading scores (on a scale of 0 to 141) were higher, on average, for students who had neither risk factor (114 points) than for those with the single risk factor of living in poverty (106 points), those with the single risk factor of not having a parent who completed high school (105 points), and those with both risk factors (102 points).
Average reading scale scores of fall 2010 first-time kindergartners, by time of assessment and risk factors related to parent education and poverty: Fall 2010 through spring 2014
NOTE: Estimates weighted by W7C17P_7T170. Scores on the reading assessments reflect performance on questions measuring basic skills (print familiarity, letter recognition, beginning and ending sounds, rhyming words, and word recognition); vocabulary knowledge; and reading comprehension, including identifying information specifically stated in text (e.g., definitions, facts, and supporting details), making complex inferences from texts, and considering the text objectively and judging its appropriateness and quality. Possible scores for the reading assessment range from 0 to 141.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010–11 (ECLS-K:2011), Kindergarten–Third Grade Restricted-Use Data File. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 220.40.
For more information on family risk factors and children’s achievement in reading, mathematics, and science from the fall of kindergarten through the spring of third grade, see the spotlight on this topic in The Condition of Education 2017.
 Given that the spring third-grade reading scores have a mean of 110.2 points and a standard deviation (SD) of 12.3 points, this would mean the average score for children who had no risk factors was about 1.0 SD higher than the score for children with no risk factors.
 Rathbun, A., and West, J. (2004). From Kindergarten Through Third Grade: Children's Beginning School Experiences (NCES 2004–007). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved March 2, 2017, from https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2004007.
By Peggy Carr, Acting Commissioner of NCES
I am pleased to announce the release of the 2017 Condition of Education, a Congressionally-mandated annual report summarizing the latest data on education in the United States. This report is designed to help policymakers and the public monitor educational progress. This year’s report includes 50 indicators on topics ranging from prekindergarten through postsecondary education, as well as labor force outcomes and international comparisons.
The Condition includes an At a Glance section, which allows readers to quickly make comparisons within and across indicators, and a Highlights section, which captures a key finding or set of findings from each indicator. The report contains a Reader’s Guide, Glossary, and a Guide to Data Sources that provide additional information to help place the indicators in context. In addition, each indicator references the data tables that were used to produce the indicator, most of which are on the Digest of Education Statistics website.
In addition to the regularly-updated annual indicators, this year’s report highlights innovative data collections and analyses from across the Center with a series of spotlight indicators. Selected findings include:
- Student risk factors (poverty and low parent educational attainment) at kindergarten entry are associated with lower academic achievement in kindergarten through grade 3;
- 2.5 percent of students in U.S. public elementary and secondary schools were reported as homeless in 2014-15. The percentage of students reported as homeless ranged from 2.0 percent in suburban school districts to 2.4 percent in rural districts, 2.6 percent in town districts, and 3.7 percent in city districts;
- Among first-time college students in 2011-12, the percentage of students who were still enrolled or had graduated after 3 years was higher for students who began at 4-year institutions (80 percent) than for those who began at 2-year institutions (57 percent); and
- 16 percent of 25- to 64-year-olds who had not completed high school had one or more disabilities in 2015, compared to 4 percent of those who had completed a bachelor’s degree and 3 percent of those who had completed a master’s or higher degree. Adults with disabilities were far less likely to be employed and far more likely to not be in the labor force compared to their peers without disabilities. Among those who had obtained higher levels of education, the differences between adults with and without disabilities were smaller.
In addition, two indicators provide insights from the Center’s recent work on technology in education. The first previews key findings from the Center’s upcoming report, Student Access to Digital Learning Resources Outside of the Classroom. For example, the percent of students who use the Internet at home varied by parental education level in 2015, ranging from 42 percent for children whose parents had not completed high school to 71 percent for those whose parents had completed a bachelor’s or higher degree. The second shows that in 2014 female students scored higher than male students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress’s 8th-grade Technology and Engineering Literacy assessment.
As new data are released, indicators will be updated and made available on the Condition of Education website. In addition, the Center produces a wide range of reports and datasets designed to help inform policymakers and the public. For more information on our latest activities and releases, please visit us online or follow us on Twitter and Facebook. You can also watch the video below for more information on the Condition of Education report.
By Grace Kena
The National Center for Education Statistics submits a report to Congress on the condition of education every year by June 1st. The Condition of Education provides a comprehensive look at the state and progress of education in the United States. Although The Condition of Education was first produced in 1975, the origins of the report date back to the creation of the first federal department of education in 1867. Its first major publication, the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Education, covered data for 1869-70. Today’s Condition of Education report is presented to Congress and the White House annually. In addition, the indicators are updated regularly online, with a convenient site designed for mobile devices. By visiting The Condition of Education website, you can access the latest indicators, download the full Congressional report for the current and prior years, and watch short videos about recent findings and highlights.
The Condition of Education covers early childhood through postbaccalaureate education, and addresses topics relevant to a broad spectrum of education stakeholders. The report contains text and graphics on dozens of educational indicators that describe student characteristics, participation in special programs, achievement, completion rates, as well as characteristics of teachers, schools, and colleges. Economic indicators show the success that students have in finding employment after their education, and present information on their earnings. In addition to core indicators of perennial interest and supplemental indicators on other special topics, the Condition features spotlight indicators with an in depth focus on emerging issues and new data. Taken together, these indicators provide valuable information about the progress of our education system in addressing such key policy concerns as improving graduation rates, closing gaps in student achievement, and promoting educational equity.
For more information and access to the indicators, see The Condition of Education 2016. You can also learn more about The Condition of Education in the video below, or see other videos on specific topics of interest on the NCES YouTube Channel.
This blog was originally posted on June 1, 2015 and was updated on May 26, 2016
By Grace Kena
In February 2014, President Obama launched My Brother’s Keeper. This effort was designed to promote opportunity for and to unlock the full potential of the nation’s young people, including boys and young men of color, with help from government agencies, community leaders, private philanthropies, and businesses. As part of this initiative, federal agencies were asked to improve the accessibility of data that highlight both the challenges and the accomplishments of young people in progressing through the education system and entering the labor force. These statistics provide a composite view of recent trends for males and females across a variety of key dimensions.
Academic performance gaps in learning behaviors, knowledge, and skills, among children in various racial/ethnic groups are found as early as infancy, preschool, and kindergarten. In addition, children from lower-income families tend to have poorer educational outcomes than their peers from more well- off families, and relatively high percentages of males and females of color live in poverty. The latest data show that among 12th graders, the average reading and mathematics assessment scores for Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native 12th-graders were lower than the average scores for their peers. In addition, the percentage of Hispanic 18- to 24-year-olds who had not completed high school was higher than the average percentage. The percentages of Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native young men in this age group who were enrolled in college were also lower than the average, and the percentages of Black and Hispanic young men ages 25–29 who had earned a bachelor’s or higher degree were lower than the average for young men in this age group.
On the other hand, young people are making progress in education. For example, average mathematics scores increased between 2005 and 2013 for all male students as well as for Black and Hispanic students overall. The percentage of males ages 18–24 who had not completed high school decreased from 2000 to 2014 for most racial/ethnic groups, and the decreases for Black and Hispanic young men were among the largest. In addition, the percentages of Black and Hispanic young men in this age group who were enrolled in college increased from 2000 to 2013.
Percentage of male 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in 2- and 4-year colleges, by race/ethnicity: 2000 and 2013
! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2013.
More education data from the My Brother’s Keeper initiative can be found in the feature in The Condition of Education 2015, and on the My Brother’s Keeper data site. Information on changes to existing programs and the creation of new public-private partnerships designed to meet the needs of young people are available on the White House site. You can also learn more about the findings from the video below:
This blog was originally posted on June 24, 2015 and was updated on August 6, 2015
By Grace Kena
Children’s skills early in school are of interest to educators and policy makers due, in part, to their association with school achievement in the later grades. NCES assesses children’s knowledge and measures their skills through data collections such as the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010–11 (ECLS-K:2011).
This study collected information from a sample of students at kindergarten entry as well as from their parents and their teachers, and will continue to follow the students through the early elementary grades. Through the ECLS-K:2011, NCES conducted direct assessments and gathered information related to other aspects of students’ development, including socioemotional development and approaches to learning. As part of the study, students’ teachers were asked to report on how the kindergartners approached learning by examining and reporting on seven behaviors: paying attention, persisting in completing tasks, showing eagerness to learn new things, working independently, adapting easily to changes in routine, keeping belongings organized, and following classroom rules.
Findings from The Condition of Education 2015 show that first-time kindergartners who demonstrated these positive learning behaviors “very often” in the fall of kindergarten had higher average reading and mathematics assessment scores than kindergartners who demonstrated these behaviors less often. First-time kindergartners who “never” exhibited the seven approaches to learning behaviors in the fall of kindergarten not only scored lower in reading and mathematics in the fall than children who had more positive learning approaches, but they continued to score lower than the other groups when the children were assessed again in the spring of their kindergarten year and in the spring of their first grade year.
Average mathematics scale scores of fall 2010 first-time kindergartners, by frequency of positive approaches to learning behaviors in fall of kindergarten year: Fall 2010, spring 2011, and spring 2012
NOTE: Possible scores for the mathematics assessments range from 0 to 96. Frequency of positive approaches to learning behaviors is derived from kindergartners' fall 2010 Approaches to Learning scale scores.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, ECLS-K:2011. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 220.40.
As an example of these differences, the average fall kindergarten mathematics score for students who “very often” showed positive learning behaviors was 36 points, compared to 18 points for children who “never” demonstrated positive learning behaviors. When measured again in the spring of the kindergarten year, the average mathematics score for children who had “never” demonstrated positive learning behaviors at the beginning of the kindergarten year (29 points) remained below the fall average score for those children who had exhibited positive approaches to learning “very often.”
For more information on approaches to learning and kindergarten and first grade achievement, including breakdowns for children of different demographic groups, see the spotlight on this topic in The Condition of Education 2015, or watch the video below.