To help policymakers and the public monitor the progress of education in the United States, Congress has mandated that the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) produce an annual report, The Condition of Education. This year’s report presents 49 indicators of important developments and trends in U.S. education. These indicators focus on participation in education, elementary and secondary education and outcomes, and postsecondary education and outcomes. The report also uses a group of the indicators to take a closer look at high school in the United States over the last twenty years. Since 1990, there have been many demographic and policy changes that have affected our high schools. We explore what these changes look like and what they have meant, in terms of achievement and other outcomes.
Enrollment in U.S. schools is expected to grow in the coming years. From 2011 through 2021, public elementary and secondary enrollment is projected to increase to 53.1 million students. Undergraduate enrollment is expected to increase from 18.1 million students in 2010 to 20.6 million in 2021. Enrollment in postbaccalaureate programs is projected to increase through 2021 to 3.5 million students. These increases in enrollment have been accompanied by an increase in diversity of the student population.
Overall, progress on national assessments in reading and mathematics has been made among 4th- and 8th-graders since the early 1990’s. On both mathematics and reading assessments, significant gaps among racial/ethnic groups remain, though the mathematics and reading gaps between White and Black 4th-graders have narrowed since the assessments were first given. The averaged freshman graduation rate (AFGR) in 2009 was 75.5 percent, a measure that has increased since 2001, when it was 71.7 percent. Other measures of improvement are the status dropout rate, which has declined among all racial/ethnic groups, and rates of postsecondary degree attainment, which have increased for Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native students.
NCES produces an array of reports each year that present findings about the U.S. education system. The Condition of Education 2012 is the culmination of a year-long project. It includes data that were available by March 2012. In the coming months, other reports and surveys informing the nation about education will be released. Along with the indicators in this volume, NCES intends these surveys and reports to help inform policymakers and the American public about trends and conditions in U.S. education.
National Center for Education Statistics