NCES Blog

National Center for Education Statistics

Celebrating 150 Years of Education Data

Statistics paint a portrait of our Nation. They provide important information that can help track progress and show areas that need attention. Beginning with the first Census in 1790, federal statistics have been used to allocate representation in Congress. Labor statistics have been gathered since the middle of the 19th century. And since 1870, the federal government has collected statistics on the condition and progress of American education.

One of the early Commissioners, John Eaton, lamented in his 1875 report to Congress that, “When the work of collecting educational statistics was begun by the Office, it was found that there was no authentic list of the colleges in the United States, or of academies, or normal schools, or schools of science, law, or medicine, or of any other class of educational institutions.” In the beginning, data were collected on basic items such as public school enrollment and attendance, teachers and their salaries, high school graduates, and expenditures. Over the years, the level of detail gradually has increased to address the needs of policy makers and the public. For example, data collections were expanded after WWII to provide more information on the growth of postsecondary education resulting from the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, also known as the GI Bill.

Patterns of enrollment change help to illustrate the growth in the nation’s education system. In 1900, relatively few students ever attended high school or college.  Of the 17.1 million students in 1900, only about 0.6 million, 4 percent of students, were enrolled in grades 9 through 12 and 0.2 million, 1 percent of students, were enrolled in postsecondary education.  During the first half of the 20th century, high school became a key part of the educational experience for most Americans. Between 1899-1900 and 1949-50, both population growth and an increase in the number of students attending high school and postsecondary education led to shifts in the distribution of students at different levels. Of the 31.2 million students in 1949-50, about 71 percent were enrolled in prekindergarten through grade 8, about 21 percent were enrolled in grades 9 through 12, and about 9 percent were enrolled in college. From 1949–50 to more recent years, enrollment in postsecondary education has become more common. Of the 75.7 million students enrolled in 2015, about 26 percent were enrolled in postsecondary education. About 52 percent of students were enrolled in prekindergarten through grade 8 in 2015, and about 22 percent were enrolled in grades 9 through 12.   

In 1962, the National Center for Education Statistics was authorized by legislation, which underscored the expanding role of education statistics within the federal system. This new role was highlighted by major advances in gathering policy-relevant and research-oriented information about our education system through the establishment of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in the late 1960s and the beginning of the National Longitudinal Study of 1972. Elementary and secondary administrative record systems were expanded by working collaboratively with state education agencies through the Common Core of Data beginning in the late 1970s.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) was developed from existing systems to better meet the needs of institutional, state, and federal decision makers. At the same time, the Center developed new sample surveys to efficiently meet research and policy needs. These new surveys included the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (1986-87), the Schools and Staffing Survey (1987-88) and the National Household Education Survey (1991).

NCES longitudinal studies have continued to strongly support research and policy analyses at all levels from early childhood to postsecondary education.  One example was the groundbreaking Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort (2001), which obtained nationally representative data on children from birth to kindergarten entry. NCES has continued a tradition of innovation by including digitally based assessments in the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress and by introducing interactive geographic mapping to our website. NCES strives to improve measures of the condition of education by collecting data that reflect the educational experiences of all students, while maintaining a faithful commitment to accuracy, transparency, and objectivity. Find out more about the history of NCES here or by visiting the NCES webpage at nces.ed.gov.

 

By Tom Snyder

Back to School by the Numbers: 2018

Across the country, hallways and classrooms are full of activity as students head back to school for the 2018–19 academic year. Each year, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) compiles some back-to-school facts and figures that give a snapshot of our schools and colleges for the coming year. You can see the full report on the NCES website, but here are a few “by-the-numbers” highlights. You can also click on the hyperlinks throughout the blog to see additional data on these topics.

The staff of NCES and the Institute of Education Sciences hopes our nation’s students, teachers, administrators, school staffs, and families have an outstanding school year!

 

50.7 million

The number of students expected to attend public elementary and secondary schools this year—slightly more than in the 2017–18­ school year (50.6 million). The racial and ethnic profile of these students includes 24.1 million White students, 7.8 million Black students, 14.0 million Hispanic students, 2.6 million Asian students, 0.2 million Pacific Islander students, 0.5 million American Indian/Alaska Native students, and 1.6 million students of Two or more races.

About 5.9 million students are expected to attend private schools this year.

 

16.0

The expected number of public school students per teacher in fall 2018. This ratio has remained consistent at around 16.0 since 2010. However, the pupil/teacher ratio is lower in private schools (12.3) and has fallen since 2010, when it was 13.0. 

 

$12,910

This is the projected per-student expenditure in public elementary and secondary schools in 2018–19. Total expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools are projected to be $654 billion for the 2018–19 school year.

 

3.6 million

The number of students expected to graduate from high school this academic year, including about 3.3 million from public schools and nearly 0.4 million from private schools.

 

19.9 million

This is the number of students expected to attend American colleges and universities this fall—higher than the fall 2000 enrollment of 15.3 million but lower than the peak of 21.0 million in 2010. About 13.3 million students will attend four-year institutions and 6.7 million will attend two-year institutions.

 

56.5%

The projected percentage of female postsecondary students in fall 2018, for a total of about 11.2 million female students, compared with 8.7 million male students.

 

By Lauren Musu, NCES and Molly Fenster, American Institutes for Research

Back to School by the Numbers

By Dana Tofig, Communications Director, Institute of Education Sciences

Across the country, hallways and classrooms are full of activity as students head back to school for the 2016–17 academic year. Each year, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) compiles some back-to-school facts and figures that give a snapshot of our schools and colleges for the coming year. You can see the full report on the NCES website, but here are a few “by-the-number” highlights. You can also click on the hyperlinks throughout the blog to see additional data on these topics.

The staff of NCES and the Institute of Education Sciences hopes our students, teachers, administrators and families have an outstanding school year!

 

50.4 million

The number of students expected to attend public elementary and secondary schools this year—slightly more than the 2015–16 school year. The racial and ethnic profile of these students will continue to shift, with 24.6 million White students, 7.8 million Black students, 13.3 million Hispanic students, 2.7 million Asian/Pacific Islanders students, 0.5 million  American Indian/Alaska Native students, and 1.5 million students who are two or more races. About 5.2 million students are expected to attend private schools.

 

16.1

The expected number of public school students per teacher in fall 2016. This ratio hasn’t changed much since 2000, when it was 16.0. However, the pupil/teacher ratio is lower in private schools—12.1—and has fallen since 2000, when it was 14.5. 

 

$11,600

This is the projected per-student expenditure in public elementary and secondary schools in 2016–17. Adjusting for inflation, per student expenditures are expected to rise about 1.5 percent over last school year.

 

3.5 million

The number of students expected to graduate from high school this academic year—nearly 3.2 million from public school and more than 310,000 from private schools.

 

20.5 million

This is the number of students expected to attend American colleges and universities this fall—an increase of 5.2 million since fall 2000. About 11.7 million of these students will be female, compared with 8.8 million males. About 13.3 million will attend four-year institutions and 7.2 million will attend two-year institutions.

 

14.5% and 16.5%

These percentages represent college students who were Black and Hispanic, respectively, in 2014. From 2000 to 2014, the percent of college students who were Black rose 2.8 percentage points (from 11.7 percent to 14.5 percent) and the percent of college students who were Hispanic rose 6.6 percentage points (from 9.9 percent to 16.5 percent).

 

$16,188 and $41,970

These are the average annual prices for undergraduate tuition, fees, room, and board at public and private non-profit institutions, respectively, for the 2014–15 academic year. The average annual price at private, for-profit institutions was $23,372.