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Letter From the Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics

May 2014

The Congress has mandated that the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) produce an annual Condition of Education report to help inform policymakers about the progress of education in the United States. This year’s report presents 42 indicators on important topics and trends in U.S. education. These indicators focus on population characteristics, participation in education, elementary and secondary education, and postsecondary education. This year’s Condition shows that about 90 percent of young adults ages 25 to 29 had a high school diploma or its equivalent in 2013, and that 34 percent had a bachelor’s or higher degree. As in previous years, in 2012, median earnings were higher for those with higher levels of education—for example, 25- to 34-year-olds with a bachelor’s degree earned more than twice as much as high school dropouts. Also, the unemployment rate was lower for bachelor’s degree holders in this age range than for their peers with lower levels of education.

In 2012, almost two-thirds of 3- to 5-year-olds were enrolled in preschool, and 60 percent of these children attended full-day programs. At the elementary and secondary level, there were nearly 50 million students in public schools in 2011—over 2 million of which were in charter schools. The number of students in elementary and secondary schools is expected to grow to 52 million by 2023. Postsecondary enrollment was at 21 million students in 2012, including 18 million undergraduate and 3 million graduate, or postbaccalaureate, students.

One in five school-age children lived in poverty in 2012, up from about one in seven in 2000. In school year 2011–12, some 3.1 million public high school students, or 81 percent, graduated on time with a regular diploma. About 66 percent of 2012 high school completers enrolled in college that fall. 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 diploma or its equivalent, declined from 12 percent in 1990 to 7 percent in 2012.

At public and private nonprofit 4-year colleges in 2011, most of the full-time undergraduates (88 and 86 percent, respectively) were under the age of 25; however, only about 29 percent of full-time students at private for-profit colleges were. About 56 percent of male students and 61 percent of female students who began their bachelor’s degree in the fall of 2006, and did not transfer, had completed their degree by 2012. In that year, over 1 million associate’s degrees, 1.8 million bachelor’s degrees, and over 750,000 master’s degrees were awarded.

The Condition of Education 2014 contains the latest data available on these and other key indicators. As new data are released, the indicators will be updated on the Condition of Education website. Along with these indicators, 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.

John Easton
John Q. Easton
Acting Commissioner
National Center for Education Statistics
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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education