Letter From the Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics

May 2015

The U.S. Congress has mandated that the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) produce an annual report to help inform policymakers about the progress of education in the United States. Using data from across the center and from other sources of education data, The Condition of Education 2015 presents 42 key indicators on important topics and trends in U.S. education. These indicators focus on population characteristics, such as educational attainment and economic outcomes, participation in education at all levels, as well as aspects of elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education, including international comparisons. New to the report this year are three spotlight indicators that describe approaches to learning behaviors for first-time kindergartners, disparities in educational outcomes among male youth of color, and differences in postsecondary degree completion by socioeconomic status. This report also includes a new feature—The At a Glance—that allows readers to quickly make comparisons within and across indicators.

This year's Condition shows that 91 percent of young adults ages 25 to 29 had a high school diploma or its equivalent in 2014, and that 34 percent had a bachelor's or higher degree. As in previous years, median earnings were higher for 25- to 34-year-olds with higher levels of education in 2013. Also, in 2014, the unemployment rate was generally lower for those with higher levels of education.

One in five school-age children lived in poverty in 2013, up from about one in seven in 2000. Sixty-five percent of 3- to 5-year-olds were enrolled in preschool in 2013, which is about the same as in the previous year. About 60 percent of these preschool children attended full-day programs. In the fall of 2012, nearly 50 million students were enrolled in public schools—over 2 million of whom were in charter schools. Postsecondary enrollment was at 20 million students in the fall of 2013, including 17 million undergraduate and 3 million graduate students.

In school year 2011–12, some 3.1 million public high school students, or 81 percent, graduated on time with a regular diploma. Sixty-six percent of 2013 high school completers enrolled in college the following fall: 42 percent went to 4-year institutions and 24 percent went to 2-year institutions. Meanwhile, the status dropout rate, or the percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and do not have a high school credential, declined from 11 percent in 2000 to 7 percent in 2013.

At public and private nonprofit 4-year colleges, most of the full-time undergraduates (88 and 86 percent, respectively) were under the age of 25 in the fall of 2013, compared with only 30 percent of full-time students at private for-profit colleges. About 56 percent of male students and 62 percent of female students who began their bachelor's degree in the fall of 2007, and did not transfer, had completed their degree within six years. In 2013, over 1 million associate's degrees, over 1.8 million bachelor's degrees, and over 750,000 master's degrees were awarded.

As new data are released, the indicators will be updated on The Condition of Education website. In addition, NCES produces a wide range of reports and data to help inform policymakers and the American public about trends and conditions in U.S. education.

Peggy G. Carr
Peggy G. Carr
Acting Commissioner
National Center for Education Statistics