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

NCES's Top Hits of 2020

As we wrap up what has been an unprecedented year in many ways, we’re taking a look back at some of NCES’s most popular content from 2020. As you reflect on the past year, we hope you’ll explore our most downloaded reports, most visited indicators, Fast Facts, and blog posts, and most viewed tweets over the past year. 

 

Top Five Reports, by number of PDF downloads

1. Condition of Education 2020 (7,328)

2Digest of Education Statistics 2018 (4,936)

3. Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups 2018 (3,379)

4. Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2019 (2,994)

5. First-Generation Students: College Access, Persistence, and Postbachelor’s Outcomes (2,382)

 

Top Five indicators from the Condition of Education, by number of web sessions

1. Students With Disabilities (82,304)

2. Public High School Graduation Rates (66,993)

3. Education Expenditures by Country (61,766)

4. English Language Learners in Public Schools (46,293)

5. Undergraduate Enrollment (46,766)

 

Top Five Fast Facts, by number of web sessions

1. Back to School Statistics (214,148)

2. Tuition Costs of Colleges and Universities (111,491)

3. College and University Endowments (78,735)

4. Degrees Conferred by Race and Sex (73,980)

5. Closed Schools (69,142)

 

Top Five Blog Posts, by number of web sessions

1. Introducing the 2020 Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) and Its Website (7,822)

2. Back to School by the Numbers: 2019–20 School Year (4,400)

3. Free or Reduced Price Lunch: A Proxy for Poverty? (4,199)

4. Educational Attainment Differences by Students’ Socioeconomic Status (2,919)

5. The Digital Divide: Differences in Home Internet Access (2,699)

 

Top Five Tweets, by number of impressions

1. Teacher Appreciation Day (21,146)

 

2. International Education Week (18,333)

 

3. Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2019 (17,383)

 

4. International Early Learning Study 2018 Pilot (10,870)

 

5. NAEP Data Training Workshop (10,782)

 

Be sure to check our blog site and the NCES website to stay up-to-date on new findings and trends in 2021. You can also follow NCES on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for daily updates and content.

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.

Spotlight on American Education Week, Part 1: Celebrating U.S. Public Education with the National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS)

In 1921, the National Education Association (NEA) sponsored the first American Education Week to express gratitude for U.S. public school educators who work hard every day to ensure all students receive a quality education. To celebrate education professionals working in the more than 98,000 U.S. public schools during this year’s American Education Week, NCES will share facts and figures from the National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS) in two blogs (read part 2 here).

The NTPS is a great resource for educators looking to better understand the characteristics and experiences of their professional communities both nationally and by state (using the NTPS State Dashboard). The NTPS collects information about school conditions and the demographics of public and private school teachers and principals, providing data that policymakers and researchers use to inform funding and other decisions.

In honor of American Education Week, here are some selected facts and figures about U.S. public schools from the NTPS (note that these data were collected prior to the coronavirus pandemic).

AEW Day 1: U.S. Public Schools (2017–18 NTPS)

  • The majority of elementary teachers teach in self-contained classrooms (i.e., they instruct the same group of students all or most of the day), while the majority of middle and high school teachers teach in departmentalized classrooms (i.e., they teach several classes of different students all or most of the day in different subjects).[1]
    • The average class size for teachers in self-contained classrooms in primary schools was 21 students (figure 1).
    • The average class size for teachers in departmentalized classrooms in middle schools was 25 students, which was higher than the average class size for teachers in departmentalized classrooms in high schools (23 students).

Figure 1. Average class size in U.S. public schools, by class type and school level: 2017–18

NOTE: Self-contained classes are defined as instruction to the same group of students all or most of the day in multiple subjects. Departmentalized instruction is defined as instruction to several classes of different students most or all of the day in one or more subjects. Among all public school teachers, 25 percent teach self-contained classes in primary schools, 1 percent do so in middle schools, and 1 percent do so in high schools; 8 percent teach departmentalized classes in primary schools, 14 percent do so in middle schools, and 24 do so percent in high schools; and 15 percent teach other types of classes, such as elementary subject specialist classes, team-taught classes, and "pull-out" or "push-in" classes in primary schools, 3 percent do so in middle schools, and 3 percent do so in high schools.

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 2: Parent Involvement in U.S. Public Schools (2017–18 NTPS)

The National Parent Teacher Association reports that “the most accurate predictors of student achievement in school are not family income or social status, but the extent to which the family . . . becomes involved in the child’s education at school.”[2]

  • Most U.S. public schools offered at least one opportunity for parents and/or guardians to participate in an event or activity at their child’s school, such as parent-teacher conferences and back-to-school nights.
  • Among principals in schools that offered various opportunities for parent participation, the percentages of primary school principals who reported that 76–100 percent of parents attended an engagement opportunity were higher than the percentages of middle and high school principals for most opportunities (figure 2).
    • More parents of primary school students than parents of middle and high school students attended open house or back-to-school night events, parent-teacher conferences, subject-area events,[3] and parent education workshop courses; volunteered in the school; and signed a school-parent compact.[4]

Figure 2. Percentage of principals in schools that offered various opportunities for parent participation who reported that 76–100 percent of parents participated in different opportunities, by opportunity type and school level: 2017–18

! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.

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 3: Education Support Professionals in U.S. Public Schools (2015–16 NTPS)

Education support professionals are nonteaching staff, including nurses, librarians, and student support services professionals (such as school counselors, psychologists, social workers) whose contributions keep schools organized and help students stay safe, healthy, and ready to learn.

  • Ninety-four percent of all public schools had at least one full- or part-time counselor, psychologist, or social worker; the percentage of schools that had at least one full- or part-time counselor (81 percent) was greater than the percentages that had at least one full- or part-time psychologist (67 percent) and social worker (42 percent). Six percent had neither a counselor, psychologist, nor social worker on staff.
    • High poverty schools—schools where 75 percent or more of students were approved for the free or reduced-price lunch (FRPL) program—had fewer education support professionals on staff than did schools with lower FRPL participation rates (0–34 percent, 35–49 percent, and 50–74 percent).
      • Eight percent of high-poverty schools had neither a counselor, psychologist, nor social worker on staff, compared with 3 percent of schools with 0–34 percent or with 35–49 percent FRPL participation.

Next, in part 2 of the NTPS blog series for American Education Week, we will share facts and findings about educators.

 

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 to learn more about teaching experiences during the 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] There may be meaningful differences within the student body at middle and high schools that offer self-contained classrooms that differ from the characteristics of those students in self-contained classrooms at primary schools.
[2] National PTA. 2000. Building Successful Partnerships: A Guide for Developing Parent and Family Involvement Programs. Bloomington, Indiana: National Education Service, 11–12.
[3] Special subject-area events include events such as science fairs and concerts.
[4] A school-parent compact is an agreement between school community members (e.g., parents, principals, teachers, students) that acknowledges the shared responsibility for students learning and/or the school's policies.

What National and International Assessments Can Tell Us About Technology in Students’ Learning: Technology Instruction, Use, and Resources in U.S. Schools

As schools and school districts plan instruction amid the current coronavirus pandemic, the use of technology and digital resources for student instruction is a key consideration.

In this post, the final in a three-part series, we present results from the NAEP TEL and ICILS educator questionnaires (see the first post for information about the results of the two assessments and the second post for the results of the student questionnaires). The questionnaires ask about the focus of technology instruction in schools, school resources to support technology instruction, and the use of technology in teaching practices.

It is important to note that NAEP TEL surveys the principals of U.S. eighth-grade students, while ICILS surveys a nationally representative sample of U.S. eighth-grade teachers.

Emphasis in technology instruction

According to the 2018 NAEP TEL principal questionnaire results, principals1 of 61 percent of U.S. eighth-grade students reported that prior to or in eighth grade, much of the emphasis in information and communication technologies (ICT) instruction was placed on teaching students how to collaborate with others. In addition, principals of 51 percent of eighth-grade students reported that a lot of emphasis was placed on teaching students how to find information or data to solve a problem. In comparison, principals of only 10 percent of eighth-grade students reported that a lot of emphasis was placed on teaching students how to run simulations (figure 1).



According to the 2018 ICILS teacher questionnaire results, 40 percent of U.S. eighth-grade teachers reported a strong emphasis on the use of ICT instruction to develop students’ capacities to use computer software to construct digital work products (e.g., presentations). In addition, 35 percent of eighth-grade teachers reported a strong emphasis on building students’ capacities to access online information efficiently. In comparison, 17 percent reported a strong emphasis on developing students’ capacities to provide digital feedback on the work of others (figure 2).  



Resources at school

NAEP TEL and ICILS used different approaches to collect information about technology-related school resources. NAEP TEL asked about hindrances that limited schools’ capabilities to provide instruction in technology or engineering concepts. According to NAEP TEL, principals of 5 percent of U.S. eighth-grade students indicated that a lack or inadequacy of internet connectivity was a “moderate” or “large” hindrance in their schools. However, principals of 61 percent of eighth-grade students indicated that a lack of time due to curriculum content demands was a “moderate” or “large” hindrance. Principals of 44 percent of eighth-grade students indicated that a lack of qualified teachers was a “moderate” or “large” hindrance (figure 3).



ICILS asked about the adequacy of school resources to support ICT use in teaching. Eighty-six percent of U.S. teachers “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that technology was considered a priority for use in teaching. Nearly three-quarters of teachers “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that their schools had access to sufficient digital learning resources and had good internet connectivity (74 and 73 percent, respectively) (figure 4).



Use of technology in teaching

Teachers of U.S. eighth-grade students reported that they often used technology in their teaching practices. ICILS found that 64 percent of U.S. teachers regularly (i.e., “often” or “always”) used technology to present class instruction. Fifty-four percent of teachers regularly used technology to communicate with parents or guardians about students’ learning. In addition, 45 percent of teachers regularly used technology to provide remedial or enrichment support to individual or small groups of students, and a similar percentage (44 percent) regularly used technology to reinforce skills through repetition of examples (figure 5).



ICILS also reported results from U.S. eighth-grade teachers about how they collaborated on technology use. About three-quarters “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they talked to other teachers about how to use technology in their teaching. Similarly, about three-quarters “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they shared technology resources with other teachers in the school. More than half of the teachers “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they collaborated with colleagues on the development of technology-based lessons.

Overall, the responses of teachers and principals suggested that emphasis had been put on different aspects of instruction for eighth-grade students. The majority of schools had enough digital resources and adequate internet access. However, technologies were also used differently in different teaching practices.

It should be noted that the data presented here were collected in 2018; any changes since then due to the coronavirus pandemic are not reflected in the results reported here. The NAEP TEL and ICILS samples both include public and private schools. The 2018 ICILS also included a principal questionnaire, but the questions are not directly related to the topics included in this blog. Data reported in the text and figures are rounded to the nearest integer.

 

Resources for more information:

 

By Yan Wang, AIR, and Taslima Rahman, NCES


[1] The unit of analysis for TEL principal responses is student.