NCES Blog

National Center for Education Statistics

2020 Edition of America’s Children Report Explores Differences in Children’s Well-Being by Metropolitan Status

Each year, NCES contributes data and insights to America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, an annual report produced by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. The Forum assembles 23 federal agencies to collaboratively present the public with policy-relevant statistics related to America’s children and their families.

The 2020 edition of America’s Children in Brief examines indicators of children’s well-being in the following domains: demographic background, family and social environment, economic circumstances, health care, physical environment and safety, behavior, education, and health. This year’s report has a special focus on differences by metropolitan status,[1] giving readers a closer look at how measures of well-being vary based on the type of community in which children and their families live.

For example, the report includes information and federal data about birth rates among adolescent mothers, adolescent alcohol use, and adolescent depression and how these data vary by geographic area. Some key highlights of these topics are below:

  • The birth rate among females ages 15–19 was 17 per 1,000 in 2018.
    • The birth rate was highest for adolescents living in rural counties (26 per 1,000), followed by those living in micropolitan counties (24 per 1,000) and metropolitan counties (16 per 1,000).
       
  • In 2019, 4 percent of 8th-, 9 percent of 10th-, and 14 percent of 12th-grade students reported binge drinking.
    • Binge drinking was reported by 18 percent of 12th-grade students living in nonmetropolitan areas compared with 14 percent of 12th-grade students living in metropolitan areas.
       
  • In 2018, 14 percent of the population ages 12–17 had at least one major depressive episode during the past year.
    • This percentage did not differ by metropolitan status (14 percent in metropolitan areas, 15 percent in micropolitan areas, and 13 percent in rural areas).

The 2020 edition also presents new NCES data on differences in high school completion rates by metropolitan status. Many entry-level jobs and colleges/universities require applicants to produce a high school diploma or its equivalent. Thus, measuring how high school completion rates vary across time and for different groups of students is important since they are strongly related to future income.[2]

In 2018, among young adults ages 18–24 who lived in metropolitan areas, 94 percent had completed high school with a diploma or an alternative credential, such as a GED certificate (figure 1). This rate was higher than the 89 percent completion rate for young adults living in nonmetropolitan areas. Furthermore, the high school completion rate for young adults who lived in metropolitan areas increased from 91 percent in 2010 to 94 percent in 2018. The completion rate for young adults who lived in nonmetropolitan areas was not measurably different between these two years (88 percent in 2010 and 89 percent in 2018).


Figure 1. Percentage of young adults ages 18–24 who have completed high school, by metropolitan status: 2010 and 2018

NOTE: Diploma equivalents include alternative credentials obtained by passing examinations such as the General Educational Development (GED) test. This figure excludes those still enrolled in high school or enrolled in a lower education level. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget classifies some counties as within a metropolitan statistical area. The remaining counties are considered nonmetropolitan. Nonmetropolitan counties include counties in micropolitan statistical and rural areas. Total includes those whose household metropolitan status was “not identified,” which is not separately shown.

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, School Enrollment Supplement.


With the 2020 publication of America’s Children in Brief, the Forum continues two decades of collaboration among agencies across the federal government to advance readers’ understanding of children and youth throughout the country.

To access to the full report that examines these differences in more detail, visit childstats.gov. Be sure to follow the Forum on Twitter @childstats to keep up with Forum activities, and check back next year for new insights into America’s children from reliable federal statistical agencies like NCES.

 

By Amanda Dean, AIR


[1] For information about how metropolitan status is defined in this report, read the “Geographic Classifications” section in the introduction to the report.

[2] Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (n.d.) High school graduation [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/social-determinants-health/interventions-resources/high-school-graduation.

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.

NCES Releases First-Ever Response Process Dataset—A Rich New Resource for Researchers

The NCES data file National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Response Process Data From the 2017 Grade 8 Mathematics Assessment (NCES 2020-102; documentation NCES 2020-134) introduces a new type of data—response process data—which was made possible by NAEP’s transition from paper to digitally based assessments in mathematics and reading in 2017. These new datasets allow researchers to go beyond analyzing students’ answers to questions as simply right or wrong; instead, researchers can examine the amount of time students spend on questions, the pathways they take through the assessment sections, and the tools they use while solving problems. 

NAEP reporting has hinted previously at the promise of response process data. With the release of the 2017 mathematics assessment results, NCES included a feature on The Nation’s Report Card website to show the different steps students took while responding to a question that assessed their multiplication skills. The short video below shows that students used a total of 397 different sequences to group four digits into two factors that yield a given product. The most popular correct and incorrect answer paths are shown in the video. Response process data, such as those summarized in this example item, can open new avenues for understanding how students work through math problems and identifying more detailed elements of response processes that could lead to common math errors.



In the newly released data, researchers can access student response process data from two 30-minute blocks of grade 8 mathematics assessment questions (or a total of 29 test items) and a 15-minute survey questionnaire where students responded to questions about their demographic characteristics, opportunities to learn in and outside of school, and educational experiences. Researchers can explore logs of the response process data collected from each student along with a file containing students’ raw responses and scored responses, time stamps, and demographics. In addition, researchers can explore a file that summarizes defined features of students’ interactions with the assessment, such as the number of seconds spent on specific questions or the number of times the calculator was opened across all students.

To explore this response process dataset, interested researchers should apply for a restricted-use license and request access to the files through the NCES website. By providing this dataset to a wide variety of researchers, NCES hopes to encourage and enable a new domain of research on developing best practices for the use and interpretation of student response process data.

 

By Jan Marie Alegre and Robert Finnegan, Educational Testing Service

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.