Since 1964, NCES has published projections of key statistics for elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education. The latest report is titled Projections of Education Statistics to 2020 (NCES 2011-026). These projections include statistics for enrollments, instructional staff, graduates, earned degrees, and expenditures. These reports include several alternative projection series and a methodology section describing the techniques and assumptions used to prepare them. Data in this edition of the Digest reflect the middle alternative projection series, except where specifically noted.
Differences between the reported and projected values are, of course, almost inevitable. An evaluation of past projections revealed that, at the elementary and secondary level, projections of enrollments have been quite accurate: mean absolute percentage differences for enrollment ranged from 0.3 to 1.3 percent for projections from 1 to 5 years in the future, while those for teachers were less than 3 percent. At the higher education level, projections of enrollment have been fairly accurate: mean absolute percentage differences were 5 percent or less for projections from 1 to 5 years into the future.
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