NCES Blog

National Center for Education Statistics

Back to School by the Numbers: 2021–22 School Year

Across the country, students are preparing to head back to school—whether in person, online, or through some combination of the two—for the 2021–22 academic year. Each year, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) compiles a Back-to-School Fast Fact that provides a snapshot of schools and colleges in the United States. Here are a few “by-the-numbers” highlights from this year’s edition.

Note: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, projected data were not available for this year’s Fast Fact. Therefore, some of the data presented below were collected in 2020 or 2021, but most of the data were collected before the pandemic began. Data collected in 2020 or 2021 are preliminary and subject to change.

 

 

48.1 million

The number of students who attended public elementary and secondary schools in fall 2020. 

The racial and ethnic profile of public school students includes 22.0 million White students, 13.4 million Hispanic students, 7.2 million Black students, 2.6 million Asian students, 2.2 million students of Two or more races, 0.4 million American Indian/Alaska Native students, and 0.2 million Pacific Islander students.

Additionally, in fall 2017, about 5.7 million students attended private schools.

 

3.7 million

The number of students projected to have graduated from high school in the 2018–19 school year, including 3.3 million students from public schools and 0.4 million students from private schools.

 

43 percent

The percentage of fourth- and eighth-grade students who were enrolled in remote instruction in February 2021.

In comparison, in May 2021, 26 percent of fourth- and eighth-grade students were enrolled in remote instruction.

 

2.3 million

The number of teachers in public schools in fall 2019.

Additionally, in fall 2017, there were 0.5 million teachers in private schools.

 

$13,187

The current expenditure per student in public elementary and secondary schools in the 2018–19 school year.

Total current expenditures in public elementary and secondary schools were $667 billion for the 2018–19 school year.

 

19.6 million

The number of students that attended colleges and universities in fall 2019—lower than the peak of 21.0 million in 2010.

About 5.6 million attended 2-year institutions and 14.0 million students attended 4-year institutions in fall 2019.

 

11.3 million

The number of female postsecondary students in fall 2019.

In comparison, there were 8.4 million male postsecondary students in fall 2019.

 

7.3 million

The number of postsecondary students who were enrolled in any distance education course in fall 2019.

In comparison, there were 12.3 million students who were not enrolled in distance education in fall 2019.

 

Be sure to check out the full Fast Fact to learn more about these and other back-to-school data.

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

 

By Megan Barnett and Sarah Hein, AIR

New Data Reveal Public School Enrollment Decreased 3 Percent in 2020–21 School Year

NCES recently released revised Common Core of Data (CCD) Preliminary Files, which are the product of the school year (SY) 2020–21 CCD data collection. CCD, the Department of Education’s primary database on public elementary and secondary education in the United States, provides comprehensive annual data on enrollment, school finances, and student graduation rates.

Here are a few key takeaways from the newly released data files:

Public school enrollment in SY 2020–21 was lower than it was in SY 2019–20.

Overall, the number of students enrolled in public schools decreased by 3 percent from SY 2019–20 to SY 2020–21. Note that Illinois did not submit data in time to be included in this preliminary report. The SY 2019–20 and SY 2020–21 total enrollment counts for California, Oregon, American Samoa, and the Bureau of Indian Education do not include prekindergarten counts.

The rate of decline in public school enrollment in SY 2020–21 was not consistent across all states.

Within states, the largest decreases were in Mississippi and Vermont (5 percent each), followed by Washington, New Mexico, Kentucky, New Hampshire, and Maine (each between 4 and 5 percent) (figure 1). Eighteen states had decreases of 3 percent or more; 29 states had decreases between 1 and 3 percent; and the District of Columbia, South Dakota, and Utah had changes of less than 1 percent.



Lower grade levels experienced a greater rate of decline in public school enrollment than did higher grade levels in SY 2020–21.

Public school enrollment decreased by 13 percent for prekindergarten and kindergarten and by 3 percent for grades 1–8. Public school enrollment increased by 0.4 percent for grades 9–12.

Most other jurisdictions experienced declines in public school enrollment in SY 2020–21.

Public school enrollment decreased in Puerto Rico (6 percent), Guam (5 percent), and American Samoa (2 percent). The Virgin Islands, however, experienced an increase of less than 1 percent.

To access the CCD preliminary data files and learn more about public school enrollment in SY 2020–21, visit the CCD data files webpage.

National Spending for Public Schools Increases for the Sixth Consecutive Year in School Year 2018–19

NCES just released a finance tables report, Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: FY19 (NCES 2021-302), which draws from data in the National Public Education Financial Survey (NPEFS). The results show that spending1 on elementary and secondary education increased in school year 2018–19 (fiscal year [FY] 2019), after adjusting for inflation. This is the sixth consecutive year that year-over-year education spending increased since 2012–13. This increase follows declines in year-over-year spending for the prior 4 years (2009–10 to 2012–13).

Current expenditures per pupil2 for the day-to-day operation of public elementary and secondary schools rose to $13,187 in FY19, an increase of 2.1 percent from FY18, after adjusting for inflation (figure 1).3 Current expenditures per pupil also increased over the previous year in FY18 (by 0.9 percent), in FY17 (by 1.7 percent), in FY16 (by 2.8 percent), in FY15 (by 2.7 percent), and in FY14 (by 1.2 percent). In FY19, education spending was 11.8 percent higher than the lowest point of the Great Recession in FY13 and 6.1 percent higher than spending prior to the Great Recession in FY10.


Figure 1. National inflation-adjusted current expenditures per pupil for public elementary and secondary school districts: FY10 through FY19

NOTE: Spending is reported in constant FY19 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," fiscal years 2010 through 2018 Final Version 2a; and fiscal year 2019, Provisional Version 1a; and Digest of Education Statistics 2019, retrieved January 8, 2021, from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d19/tables/dt19_106.70.asp.


Without adjusting for geographic cost differences, current expenditures per pupil ranged from $7,950 in Utah to $24,882 in New York (figure 2). In addition to New York, current expenditures per pupil were highest in the District of Columbia ($22,831), New Jersey ($21,331), Vermont ($21,217), and Connecticut ($21,140). In addition to Utah, current expenditures per pupil were lowest in Idaho ($8,043), Arizona ($8,773), Nevada ($9,126), and Oklahoma ($9,203).


Figure 2. Current expenditures per pupil for public elementary and secondary education, by state: FY19

NOTE: These data are not adjusted for geographic cost differences.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), “National Public Education Financial Survey (NPEFS),” FY19, Provisional Version 1a and “State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/Secondary Education,” school year 2018–19, Provisional Version 1a.


These new NPEFS data offer researchers extensive opportunities to investigate state and national patterns of revenues and expenditures. Explore the report and learn more.


[1] Spending refers to current expenditures. Current expenditures comprise expenditures for the day-to-day operation of schools and school districts for public elementary/secondary education, including expenditures for staff salaries and benefits, supplies, and purchased services. Current expenditures include instruction, instruction-related support services (e.g., social work, health, psychological services), and other elementary/secondary current expenditures but exclude expenditures on capital outlay, other programs, and interest on long-term debt.
[2] Per pupil expenditures are calculated using student membership derived from the State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/Secondary Education. In some states, adjustments are made to ensure consistency between membership and reported fiscal data. More information on these adjustments can be found in the data file documentation at https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/files.asp.
[3] In order to compare spending from one year to the next, expenditures are converted to constant dollars, which adjusts figures for inflation. Inflation adjustments utilize the Consumer Price Index (CPI) published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. For comparability to fiscal education data, NCES adjusts the CPI from a calendar year to a school fiscal year basis (July through June). See Digest of Education Statistics 2019, table 106.70, retrieved January 8, 2021, from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d19/tables/dt19_106.70.asp.

 

By Stephen Q. Cornman NCES; Lei Zhou, Activate Research; and Malia Howell, U.S. Census Bureau

Accessing the Common Core of Data (CCD)

Every year, NCES releases nonfiscal data files from the Common Core of Data (CCD), the Department of Education’s (ED’s) primary longitudinal database on public elementary and secondary education in the United States. CCD data releases include directory data (location, status, and grades offered), student membership data (by grade, gender, and race/ethnicity), data on full-time equivalent staff and teachers, and data on the number of students eligible for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP)

This blog post, one in a series of posts about CCD data, focuses on how to access and use the data. For information on using NSLP data, read the blog post Understanding School Lunch Eligibility in the Common Core of Data

CCD Data Use

CCD data are used both internally by ED and externally by the public. For example, within ED, CCD data serve as the sample frame for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and are the mainstay of many tables in the Digest of Education Statistics and The Condition of Education. Outside of ED, CCD data are used by researchers, the general public (e.g., realtor sites, The Common Application, Great Schools), and teachers who need their school’s NCES school ID to apply for grants.

Data Structure and Availability

CCD data are available at the state, district, and school levels, using a nested structure: all schools are within a parent district and all districts are within a state. CCD does not include any student- or staff-level data.

Most CCD data elements are available for school year (SY) 1986‒87 to the present.    

Unique Identifiers Within CCD

NCES uses a three-part ID system for public schools and districts: state-based Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) codes, district codes, and school codes. Using these three parts, several IDs can be generated:

  • District IDs: 7-digit (FIPS + 5-digit District)
  • School IDs:
    • 12-digit (FIPS + District + School)
    • 7-digit (FIPS + School) (unique from SY 2016‒17 on)

NCES IDs are assigned to districts and schools indefinitely, making them useful for analyzing data over time. For example, for a longitudinal school-level analysis, a school’s 7-digit ID should be used, as it remains the same even if the school changes districts. These IDs can also be used to link CCD district and school data to other ED databases.

Accessing CCD Data

There are three ways to access CCD data: the CCD District and School Locators, the Elementary/Secondary Information System (ElSi), and the raw data files. Each approach has different benefits and limitations.

  • CCD District and School locators
    • Quick and easy to use
    • Many ways to search for districts and schools (e.g., district/school name, street address, county, state)
    • Provides the latest year of CCD data available for the selected district(s) or school(s)
    • Tips for optimal use:
      • If you are having difficulty finding a district or school, only enter a key word for the name (e.g., for PS 100 Glen Morris in New York City, only enter “Glen Morris” or “PS 100”)
      • Export search results to Excel (including all CCD locator fields)

  • Elementary/Secondary Information System (ElSi)
    • quickFacts and expressTables: view most-requested CCD data elements at multiple levels
    • tableGenerator: combine data across topic areas and years to create a single file
    • Create “tables” that act like databases and include all of the roughly 100,000 public schools or 20,000 districts
    • Export data to Excel or CSV
    • Tips for optimal use:
      • Save and edit queries using the navigation buttons at the top of the screen
      • popularTables provide links to frequently requested data

 

Interested in learning more about CCD or accessing CCD data at the state, district, or school level? Check out the CCD website and use the District and School locators, ElSi, or the raw data files to find the data you are looking for.

 

By Patrick Keaton, 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.