Projections Of Education Statistics To 2011

Chat Host Hello, and welcome to today's StatChat. I'm sure that you have many questions regarding today's release of the Projections of Education Statistics to 2011, so let's get right to them...

Jennifer from Arlington, VA asked:
The data in your new publication are projected estimates, not observed estimates. Have you done any follow-up research to assess how accurate your projections are once we have passed the date of the projection (i.e., did you look back at your projections for 1999 in the year 2000 to see if they were accurate?)
Debra E. Gerald & William J. Hussar: Jennifer, thank you for your question. This is a good question to start off our StatChat. One of the activities of the NCES Projection Program is to conduct evaluations of past projections and measure projection accuracy. We do evaluations every year and examine the accuracy of projections made one to ten years out. In the report at, click on the bookmark—A. Projection Methodology and locate table A2.—Mean absolute percentage errors by lead-time for selected statistics. For example, this table shows that for public school enrollment, the mean absolute percentage errors for lead times of 1, 2, 5, and 10 years out were 0.2, 0.5, 1.2, and 2.9 percent, respectively.

Terry from Gary, Indiana asked:
Are there any projections that you have come up that would have an impact on the way that education is funded in this country?
Debra E. Gerald & William J. Hussar: One reason that projections such as our enrollment and current expenditures projections are produced is to serve as a resource to policy makers as they make decisions concerning such topics as education funding.

Nancy from Boston, Mass. asked:
What are some of the reasons that you have for projecting a decline in H.S. graduates in both public and private schools in 2009-2011?
Debra E. Gerald & William J. Hussar: Hello Nancy. This decrease in high school graduates is primarily demographic. It reflects changes in the 18-year-old population from 2009-2011. This age cohort is projected to decline to around 3 percent during this period. In the report at, click on the bookmark-- Appendix B—Supplementary Tables and locate table B4 on population trends.

Al from Arlington, VA asked:
re: Table 33.-Current expenditures and current expenditures per pupil in fall enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools, with alternative projections: 1985-86 to 2010-11 How do these estimates factor in the cost of providing special education services as specified under IDEA?
Debra E. Gerald & William J. Hussar: The projections of current expenditures do not specifically consider specific programs such as IDEA. The model used to produce these projections has three economic and demographic variables including such variables as disposable income per capita. The methodology is discussed in Appendix A5 of the book. At the present time, this appendix is only available in the pdf file of the entire book.

Al from Arlington, VA asked:
Is there any way to use the "Degrees Conferred" to estimate the number of teacher candidates that will be available in 2011? Has this been done already and if so, where can we find these data? Thanks,
Debra E. Gerald & William J. Hussar: We have not used any of our “Degrees Conferred” projections to estimate the number of teacher candidates. We have not looked into ways to do that.

Frank from Jackson, Miss. asked:
Your press release states that "per student spending is projected to increase about 24 percent in constant dollars between 2001-02 and 2010-11." Is this increase in federal funds or state funds?
Debra E. Gerald & William J. Hussar: The 24 percent increase includes spending by local, state and federal governments.

Heather from Salt Lake City Utah asked:
Can you explain why your projections are so different than projections made at the state level. For example, Utah officials say enrollment will grow by 96K students by 2010 while your report shows enrollment grows by just 33K. In addition, the actual enrollment your report shows for 1999 is not the same as the actual enrollment count in Utah. Thanks
Debra E. Gerald & William J. Hussar: Hello Heather. Our actual counts are based on state reports received by the Common Core of Data survey conducted at NCES. So our numbers may differ from state numbers using different definitions for counting students for various purposes. Also, the assumptions underlying the projection methodologies for progression rates and immigration are probably not the same. I would like to investigate the differences. Please share your forecasts with me. I can be reached at

Sally from Albany, NY asked:
Are there certain kinds of projections that you do at the request of Congress or the President?
Debra E. Gerald & William J. Hussar: There are no projections that we prepare on a regular basis specifically for either the President or Congress. However they are frequent users of the Projections report. We produce projections from time to time for offices within the department.

Mark from Cinn., Ohio asked:
Do you ever look at State projections when you come up with national estimates?
Debra E. Gerald & William J. Hussar: Hi Mark. Our national estimates are done first. Next, individual state projections are developed. To insure consistency, the state projections are summed and then control to the national estimate. We do not use other State projections when we come up with our national estimate. Our state projections are developed using a consistent methodology. They are not intended to supplant detailed projections prepared in individual states. When results from individual states are available, we use them to prepare evaluations of our projections.

Brock from Austin, Texas asked:
Based on degrees awarded in different categories can you project what programs people should be enrolling in so they can secure better jobs?
Debra E. Gerald & William J. Hussar: The degree projections presented in the Projections of Education Statistics are not designed for such a purpose. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics periodically produces its Occupational Outlook Handbook which should be useful. It is available at

John from Columbia, Maryland asked:
Is the methodology that you use easily adaptable to the state level?
Debra E. Gerald & William J. Hussar: Yes, our methodology could be used by state governments. In fact, we have talked to researchers from some states, and also from cities and other countries who have used similar methodologies.

Tom from Raleigh, N.C. asked:
I know you put this book out every year, but could you tell me what are the main uses for this kind of information? How are the projections used at the national, state and local levels?
Debra E. Gerald & William J. Hussar: Hello Tom. One objective of an annual Projections Report is to project key education statistics for policy planning. At the national level, projections are used by Congress to make legislative decisions. At the state and local levels, national trends are compared to trends in state governments and school districts. In addition, projections are used by individuals in business and industry, educational associations, media, and the public.

Ellie from Rixeyville, VA asked:
Are there any plans to project enrollment by race and ethnic characteristics?
Debra E. Gerald & William J. Hussar: Yes, we have developed some models to produce elementary and secondary enrollment projections by race/ ethnicity. These models presently are being finalized.

Serina from Eggbornsville, W VA asked:
Why are full-time enrollments in college projected to increase faster than part-time enrollments?
Debra E. Gerald & William J. Hussar: Hi Serina. The increase in the traditional college-age population (18- to 24-year-olds) and rising enrollment rates are expected to cause growth in full-time enrollment. Since the younger students tend to enroll full time, full-time enrollment will outpace part-time enrollment.

Grant from Ashland, OR asked:
Do you ever put out special reports when a projection you make turns out to be incorrect? If not might I suggest that these be done and posted on your website as well along with the regular reports.
Debra E. Gerald & William J. Hussar: Most demographic and economic projections will have some error. As we noted in our answer to our first question, from Jennifer, we present some measures of forecast accuracy in each edition of the Projections.

Madellin from Chicago IL asked:
Are you going to do projections for higher education finance any more?
Debra E. Gerald & William J. Hussar: We hope to when we receive more data.

Ted from Lancaster, PA asked:
What projections do you most enjoy doing?
Debra E. Gerald & William J. Hussar: Hello Ted. This will be our last question. Earned Degrees Conferred.

Thanks for all of your excellent questions. Unfortunately, we could not get to all of them, but please feel free to contact the Projections staff if you need any assistance. We hope that you found this session to be helpful and the report to be interesting.

Back to StatChat Home