Statistics in Brief:

Public School Student, Staff and Graduate Counts by State, School Year 1996-97

August 1998

(NCES 98-219) Ordering information

How many students were enrolled in elementary and secondary public schools in 1996-97? How many staff members were paid to teach, supervise, and provide support services for education? How many students graduated from high school in 1995-96? The information to answer these and other questions is reported in the ' State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary and Secondary Education, School Year 1996-97.

How many students were enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools?

In school year 1996B97, there were 45.6 million students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools in the 50 states and the District of Columbia (table 1). Of these students, 25.5 million were in pre-kindergarten through grade 6, an additional 19.5 million were in grades 7 through 12, and the remaining 0.6 million were ungraded students. (The five outlying areas and the Department of Defense Dependent schools are not included in national totals.)

California had the most public elementary and secondary school students (5,688,000), followed by Texas (3,829,000) and New York (2,843,000). The three lowest student counts were in the District of Columbia (79,000), Wyoming (99,000), and Vermont (106,000).

How many teachers were there?

About 2.7 million teachers provided instruction in public elementary and secondary schools in the 1996B97 school year (table 2). Among this group, 1,486,000 were elementary school teachers (including pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teachers) and 955,000 were secondary school teachers. The remaining 225,000 teachers taught ungraded students or were not assigned a specific grade.

The ratio of total students to total teachers for the nation was 17.1 students per teacher. These ratios ranged from lows of 13.6 students per teacher in New Jersey and 13.7 in Maine and Vermont to highs of 24.4 in Utah, and 22.9 in California. The median student per teacher ratio was 16.6:1, that is, half of the states had a higher student/teacher ratio than 16.6:1, and half had a lower ratio. Student/teacher ratios should not be interpreted as average class size since not all teachers are assigned to a class (for example, music and reading teachers in elementary schools).

How many staff supervised or provided support services for public education?

In addition to the teachers described previously, about 519,000 teachers' aides directly assisted teachers in providing instruction (Table 3). An additional 34,000 instructional coordinators and supervisors helped teachers through curriculum development and in-service training. Support staff for students included 89,000 guidance counselors and 52,000 librarians. This translates to about 513 students for every guidance counselor reported, and 885 students for each librarian. An additional 1,230,000 staff members provided support services for schools and students. This support included food, health, library, maintenance, transportation, security and other services in the nation's public schools. There were 123,000 school administrators (mostly principals and assistant principals), 48,000 school district administrators, and about 357,000 administrative support staff.

The relative distribution of all staff is illustrated in figure 1. Instructional staff (teachers, aides and coordinators) made up 63 percent of all staff. Another 27 percent of all staff (librarians, counselors, psychologists, and the like) provided support services to schools and students. Administrative staff made up 10 percent of all education staff. On the average, there were 16 teachers and 12 support staff for each administrator. All of these distributions and ratios vary greatly from state to state.

How many students graduated from high school during the 1995-96 school year?

Some 2,281,000 students received regular high school diplomas in the 50 states and the District of Columbia during the 1995-96 school year and subsequent summer (Table 4). An additional 203,000 students received alternative diplomas or high school equivalency certificates (the latter group includes only those who are 19 or younger). National totals for alternative and high school equivalency certificate recipients and other completers represent an undercount due to missing data in some states. Finally, some 24,000 students received some high school completion certificate other than a diploma. (Note that some states grant only regular diplomas and the high school equivalency certificates).

Technical Notes

The "State Nonfiscal Survey" is an annual state-level collection of student, staff, and high school graduate counts for grades prekindergarten through 12. The data are collected from state education agencies (SEAs), processed and edited by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, and then verified by NCES. The "State Nonfiscal Survey" is part of the Common Core of Data collection.

All staff counts (including teachers) are in full-time equivalency units. This is the amount of time required to perform an assignment stated as a proportion of a full-time position. It is computed by dividing the amount of time employed by the time normally required for a fullBtime position.

All states and outlying areas provided data for this survey. However, state agencies vary in their data collection and reporting systems, with resulting inconsistencies across states.

Values for prekindergarten students and staff that were missing and not reported elsewhere by the states were imputed. These items are noted as "imputed" in the data tables. The method used for imputing all variables other than prekindergarten students was to: (a) create a subset of states reporting the item in question; (b) calculate the ratio of the missing item to total student membership for each state in the subset; (c) calculate the average ratio of item to membership; (d) multiply the total student membership of the state with the missing item by the average ratio; (e) substitute the imputed estimate for the missing item and then recomputed the subtotals and totals. Missing prekindergarten student counts were imputed first, by calculating an average ratio of prekindergarten students to total students minus prekindergarten students for reporting states, and then by following steps d and e above. Totals and subtotals are footnoted in the tables when one or more items included in the total are imputed or adjusted.

The New Jersey Department of Education did not report any student or staff data for school year (SY) 1996-97 or graduate and completer data for SY 1995-96. All New Jersey data for these items were imputed, by taking the average growth rate for states reporting items for SY 1995-96 to SY 1996-97, and multiplying it by reported data for New Jersey in SY 1995-96. (Graduate and completer data used SY 1994-95 and SY 1995-96 data for the growth rate, and multiplied it by the reported data for SY 1994-95).

Several states collapse two or more categories of staff into one. In these cases, NCES disaggregates this number by distributing the reported amount to the several categories based on the average distribution of these staff in other states.

NCES made no adjustments or imputations to the high school graduate, high school equivalency or other high school completion data except in New Jersey.

For further information

For copies of the Statistics in Brief, contact 1-877-4ED_PUBS. For additional information about this Statistics in Brief or the complete data set, contact Ghedam Bairu, , 1900 K Street NW, Suite 9000, Washington DC 20006; or e-mail".


Administrative Support Staff: This category contains staff members who provide direct support to local education agency and school administrators. This includes secretarial and other clerical staff, and persons whose activities are concerned with support of the teaching and administrative duties of the office of the principal or department chairpersons, or central office administrators.

High School Equivalency Recipients: These are individuals age 19 or younger who received a high school equivalency certificate during the previous school year or subsequent summer. This is a formal document certifying that an individual met the state requirements for high school graduation equivalency by obtaining satisfactory scores on an approved examination, and meeting other performance requirements (if any) set by a state education agency or other appropriate body.

Membership Count: This comprises the total student enrollment on October 1 (or the closest school day to October 1) for all grade levels and ungraded pupils. Membership includes students both present and absent on the measurement day.

Other Diploma Recipients: These are individuals who received a diploma from a program other than the regular school program during the previous school year and subsequent summer school.

Other High School Completers: These are individuals who received a certificate of attendance, or other certificate of completion, in lieu of a diploma during the previous school year and subsequent summer school.

Other Student Support Staff: This category contains library support staff, professional and supervisory staff providing non-instructional services to students, and support services staff not reported in other categories, (e.g., data processing, health, building and equipment maintenance, bus drivers, security, and food service workers).

Regular High School Graduates: These are those graduates who received a regular diploma during the previous school year and subsequent summer school. A regular diploma recognizes that the recipient has completed a prescribed course of studies at the secondary school level.

Teachers of Ungraded Classes: This category includes teachers of classes or programs without standard grade designation.

Ungraded students: These are students who are assigned to programs or classes without standard grade designation. Note that some states (Florida, for example) report teachers of ungraded classes even though all students are assigned a grade level of record.

Elementary/Secondary Teachers: States report teachers in these categories. They do not necessarily reflect standard grade groupings.


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