IES Blog

Institute of Education Sciences

Celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month With NCES

Sexual minorities are people whose sexual orientation is something other than straight or heterosexual.

Gender minorities are people whose sex as recorded at birth is different from their gender.

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month, and NCES is proud to share some of the work we have undertaken to collect data on the characteristics and well-being of sexual and gender minority (SGM) people. Inclusion of questions about sexual orientation and gender identity on federal surveys allows for a better understanding of SGM people relative to the general population. These questions generate data to inform the development of resources and interventions to better serve the SGM community. Giving respondents the opportunity to describe themselves and bring their “whole self” to a questionnaire also helps them to be more fully seen and heard by researchers and policymakers.

Sometimes, we get asked why questions like this appear on education surveys. They can be sensitive questions for some people, after all. We ask these questions so we can better understand educational equity and outcomes for SGM people, just as we do for other demographic groups, such as those defined by race, ethnicity, household income, and region of the country. Just as is the case for other demographic groups, it is possible that SGM people have unique experiences compared with students and educators from other demographic groups.

Over the past 10 years, NCES has researched how to best ask respondents about their sexual orientation and gender identity, how respondents react to these questions, and what the quality of the data is that NCES has collected in questionnaires and datasets that include sexual orientation and gender identity information.

Several NCES studies include background questions for adults about their sexual orientation and gender identity, including the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09) Second Follow-up in 2016, the Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B) 08/18 and 16/21 collections, the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) in 2020, the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS) 20/22 and 20/25 collections, and the 2023–24 National Teacher and Principal Survey. In addition, the School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and sponsored by NCES, asks students several questions pertinent to SGM experiences. For example, the SCS asks students whether they were bullied due to their gender or sexual orientation and whether they experienced hate speech related to their gender or sexual orientation. As participants in the NCVS, students ages 16 and older who respond to the SCS also report their gender identity and sexual orientation. Collectively, these data allow NCES to describe the experiences of students who identify as sexual and gender minorities.

  • As of 2021, 2009 ninth-graders who were bisexual and questioning left postsecondary education without degrees or credentials at higher rates than other groups of students who were in ninth grade in 2009, and they earned bachelor’s or higher degrees at lower rates than other students.1
     
  • In 2020, some 9 percent of students who identified as genderqueer, gender nonconforming, or a different identity had difficulty finding safe and stable housing, which is the three times the rate of students who identified as male or female (3 percent each).2
     
  • In 2018, about 10 years after completing a 2007–08 bachelor’s degree, graduates who were gender minorities3 described their financial situations. Graduates who were gender minorities were less likely to own a home (31 percent) or hold a retirement account (74 percent) than graduates who were not gender minorities (63 percent and 87 percent, respectively).4
     
  • Among 2008 bachelor’s degree graduates with a full-time job in 2018, those who were straight people reported higher average salaries than those who were either lesbian/gay or bisexual.    
     
  • In the 2017–18 school year, 18 percent of public schools had a recognized student group that promoted the acceptance of students’ sexual orientation and gender identity, such as a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA). This was an increase from the 2015–16 school year, in which 12 percent of schools reported having a GSA.5|
     
  • Among all students ages 12–18 in grades 6–12 who reported being bullied (19 percent), the percentage who reported being bullied due to their sexual orientation more than doubled from 2017 (4 percent) to 2022 (9 percent).6 That change was primarily driven by female students, for whom the percentage tripled from 2017 to 2022 (from 4 to 13 percent), while the percentage of bullied males who reported being bullied for their sexual orientation was not statistically significantly different across the period (3 percent in 2017 and 4 percent in 2022).

Figure 1. Among students ages 12–18 enrolled in grades 6–12 who reported being bullied, percentage who reported that they thought the bullying was related to their sexual orientation: 2017, 2019, and 2022

! Standard error for this estimate is 30 to 50 percent of the estimate’s value.

* Statistically significantly different (p < .05) from 2022. 


NCES is committed to collecting data about equity in education and describing the experiences of all students and educators, including SGM people.

To learn more about the research conducted at NCES and across the federal statistical system on the measurement of sexual orientation and gender identity, visit nces.ed.gov/FCSM/SOGI.asp.

Plus, be sure to follow NCES on XFacebookLinkedIn, and YouTube and subscribe to the NCES News Flash to stay informed when resources with SGM data are released.

 

By Elise Christopher, Maura Spiegelman, and Michael McGarrah, NCES


[1] SOURCE: Christopher, E. M. (2024). Disparities in postsecondary outcomes for LGBTQ+ individuals:
New evidence from the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009. Presented at the American Education Research Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.

[2] SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2019–20 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:20, preliminary data)

[3] On the NCES surveys mentioned above, gender identity categories include male; female; transgender, male-to-female; transgender, female-to-male; genderqueer or gender nonconforming; a different gender identity; and more than one gender identity.

[4] SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2008/18 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:08/18).

[5] SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015–16 and 2017–18 School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS).

[6] SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017, 2019, and 2022 School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)

 

Celebrating the ECLS-K:2024: Participating Children Are the Key to Increasing Our Knowledge of Children’s Education and Development Today

As we highlighted in our March blog post, NCES is excited to be in the field for the base-year data collection of our newest national early childhood study, the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2023–24 (ECLS-K:2024). Although the study collects much needed data from a variety of adult respondents (i.e., parents/guardians, teachers, and school administrators), the heart of the ECLS-K:2024 is our data collection with the participating children.

With the permission of their parent/guardian, the children take part in the ECLS-K:2024 child session activities, answering engaging, age-appropriate reading and math questions during one-on-one sessions with trained ECLS-K:2024 team members (watch an example of children participating in the child activities). These ECLS-K:2024 child sessions are planned for every currently expected round of data collection, starting with the fall and spring of the current school year (2023–24) when the children are in kindergarten.

Although the child sessions look pretty similar every year, there are some changes to the activities as the children age. For example, in kindergarten and first grade, we include memory-related items in the sessions; we then swap out these items for child surveys in the later rounds, when children are in higher grades. In prior ECLS kindergarten cohort studies, child surveys included items on topics such as children’s sense of school belonging; worry or stress about school; media usage; and peer relationships. Explore the items we asked in the child surveys in the ECLS-K:2024’s sister studies, the ECLS-K and ECLS-K:2011. Many of these items will likely be asked again of the children participating in ECLS-K:2024. Also, in past studies, children had their height and weight measured to provide information about early physical development; this study component returns to the ECLS-K:2024’s spring data collection in some schools.

Child-provided data from the earlier ECLS program studies have been used extensively. A recent analysis conducted by the ECLS program team found that more than 1,000 studies and reports published between 2000 and 2021 have analyzed the ECLS academic skills and school performance data, with more than 80 percent of those utilizing the child assessment data. For example, NCES published a report on reading achievement over children’s early elementary school years using the ECLS-K reading assessment data. Use NCES’s Bibliography Search Tool to explore these reports (select “ECLS” from the Data Source drop-down menu).

If you’re instead interested in exploring trend data, research has been conducted on the differences between children who were in kindergarten during the 1998–99 and 2010–11 school years (use the Bibliography Search Tool to find reports on this topic). Additional research comparing kindergartners in the 1998–99 and 2010–11 school years with kindergartners in the 2023–24 school year is expected after this year’s ECLS-K:2024 data collection. Once the ECLS-K:2024 collection concludes, NCES will produce data files—made available to the public with deidentified data—that will allow for direct comparisons between these three groups of children. Our understanding of how the abilities of today’s kindergartners vary from those of kindergartners in the late 1990s and early 2010s relies on the participation of children in the ECLS-K:2024.  

Of course, it’s not just the children’s reading and mathematics data that will provide answers to key questions about education and child development. All the data the ECLS-K:2024 children are providing now in the study’s base year—as well as the data they will provide as they advance through their elementary years—will help inform our understanding of what today’s children know and can do.

On behalf of the thousands of researchers, policymakers, educators, and parents who rely on the important data provided by the ECLS-K:2024’s youngest contributors—thank you to our ECLS-K:2024 children!

Want to learn more?


Next up in this blog series celebrating the ECLS-K:2024, we’ll highlight the study’s parents and families. Keep an eye out this summer!

 

By Jill McCarroll and Korrie Johnson, NCES

Using Federal Education Data to Inform Policymaking: Part 2–Challenges and Opportunities

In part 1 of this blog series, we highlight the benefits and advantages of using federal education data for policymaking at the federal, state, and district levels. In part 2, we will explore the challenges of and opportunities afforded by using these data.

States, districts, and schools are inundated with requests for data. To manage the volume of requests and avoid overwhelming educators, many districts have established processes to vet and limit the number of surveys allowed in their schools and administrative offices. District clearance processes are also understandably meant to make sure everyone is in compliance with data privacy laws. NCES data collections are sometimes not cleared by district offices, which then means NCES is not allowed to contact schools or educators to learn from their perspectives or experiences.

Since many state or district policymakers prioritize local survey collections, federal surveys are occasionally rejected by district offices that are striving to keep from overburdening their educators with too many survey requests. Without district permission, NCES surveys won’t include the educators in those schools, meaning that those districts’ voices will be missing from the table when decisions are made. This is problematic for the entire education system for a few reasons.

  1. Local data rarely reach federal policymakers. We know state and district decisionmakers derive a lot of value from state and/or district survey collections—since they’re designed to provide detailed local data—and do not always see value in federal data collection and reporting efforts. More localized data are critical to their day-to-day decisions. However, the presence of numerous state-run surveys—in addition to the myriad individualized district surveys that can exist within a single state—has begun to create a data silo where information remains frozen within a state or district system. Since NCES (and therefore the Department of Education and Congress) rarely receives data from state or local collections, these data sources cannot readily be used to generate national policies, which greatly limits opportunities for state and district systems to learn from each other. These data silos can, for example, impact the focus or breadth of federal grants or funding available for schools.

    Federal, state, and district education agencies serve different roles in the education sector but have mutually beneficial responsibilities that should complement and support one another. The solution isn’t to supplant federal data collections with local ones, or vice versa, but instead to supplement local collections with federal collections like the National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS) so education decisionmakers at all levels have access to necessary information to make good decisions for our schools.
     
  2. Benchmarking and comparability are limited. Without federal data collections, it can be difficult or impossible for states, districts, and local policymakers to compare their schools and educators with those in other areas because of the lack of common focus and definitions across data collections. Even if the topics being collected are similar, individualized district or state surveys can differ widely in both content and wording.

    National data collections—like the NTPS—are excellent tools local policymakers should use when setting priorities on behalf of the students and staff in their state or district. Since the data from the NTPS are collected from educators in the same way across the entire country, they can be used to establish benchmarks against which local collections can measure themselves.
     
  3. Lack of participation decreases the representativeness of storytelling. If districts do not approve NCES’s survey research applications, we are unable to reach educators in certain schools, which can limit the kinds of perspectives that are included in the data. To paint a true picture of the education landscape, our survey teams select districts, schools, and/or educators that are as representative of the education field as possible.

    Teachers and principals who participate in NCES studies are grouped in different ways—such as by age, race/ethnicity, or the type of school at which they work—and their information is studied to identify patterns of experiences that people in these different groups may have had. This is what makes our datasets representative, or similar enough to the demographics of the population to able to accurately reflect the characteristics of everyone (even those who aren’t sampled to participate).

    For example, the NTPS is designed to support analysis of a variety of subgroups, such as those by
  • school level (i.e., elementary, middle, high, and combined);
     
  • school community type (i.e., urban, suburban, town, and rural);
     
  • teachers’ and principals’ years of experience in the profession; and
     
  • race/ethnicity of teachers and principals (figure 1).

These diverse subgroups are critically important for both federal and local policymakers who want to make decisions using information that truly represents everyone in the field.


Figure 1. Percentage of K–12 public and private school teachers who reported that they have any control over various areas of planning and teaching in their classrooms, by school type and selected school characteristic: 2020–21 

 

NOTE: Data are weighted estimates of the population. Response options included “no control,” “minor control,” “moderate control,” and “a great deal of control.” Teachers who reported “minor control,” “moderate control,” or “a great deal of control” were considered to have reported having “any control.”
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), “Public and Private School Teacher Data File,” 2020–21.


Larger datasets allow for more nuanced comparisons by school, principal, or teacher characteristics that aren’t possible in smaller datasets, allowing for more equity in national and local estimates and more distinct answers to key policy questions. But we need district-level support to provide these nuanced data.

Although the NTPS has a fairly large sample to support state representation, it still only includes a small percentage of all schools and educators in the country. Sampling is used to avoid collecting data from all systems, staff, and students, thus helping to limit overall respondent burden on our education system. For this reason, it’s important that all sampled schools and educators participate if selected. Since some districts also have formal review processes—through which a survey must be approved before any schools or educators can be contacted—it is also important that districts with sampled schools grant NCES surveys permission to collect data from their schools.

Both levels of participation will help us collect data that accurately describe a state or population. Otherwise, the story we are telling in the data is only augmenting some voices—and these are the experiences that will be reflected in federal policy and funding.

 

As the education sector strives to understand the needs of students and staff on the tails of the coronavirus pandemic, trustworthy data are only becoming more critical to the decisionmaking process. NCES datasets like the NTPS are critical resources that federal, state, and district policymakers can and have used for benchmarking strategic goals or conducting analyses on how a topic has (or hasn’t) changed over time.

The catch being, of course, that all data on the NTPS—and many other NCES surveys—come directly from schools, principals, and teachers themselves. These analyses and reports are not possible without district and educator participation. While it may seem counterintuitive that any one person could make such a large difference in federal education policy, the concept doesn’t differ from civic duties such as voting in federal or local elections.

Below is a visual summary of this blog post that can be used in your own professional discussions about the importance of participating in federal education surveys.



NCES would like to thank every district, school, administrator, teacher, parent, and student who has previously approved or participated in an NCES survey. We wouldn’t be able to produce our reports and data products without your participation.

We are currently conducting the 2023–24 NTPS to learn more about school and educator experiences following the pandemic. Find more information about the NTPS, including findings and details from prior collections.

 

By Maura Spiegelman and Julia Merlin, NCES

NCES Celebrates LGBTQ+ Pride Month

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month, and NCES is proud to share some of the work we have undertaken to collect data on the characteristics and well-being of sexual and gender minority populations.

Inclusion of questions about sexual orientation and gender identity on federal surveys allows for better understanding of sexual and gender minority populations relative to the general population. These sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data meet a critical need for information to understand trends within larger population groups, and insights gained from analysis of the data can lead to potential resources and needed interventions being provided to better serve the community. Giving respondents the opportunity to describe themselves and bring their “whole self” to a questionnaire helps them to be seen and heard by researchers and policymakers.

Sometimes, NCES is asked why questions like this appear on an education survey. They can be sensitive questions for some people, after all. NCES asks these questions to be able to understand the different experiences, equity, and outcomes related to education for sexual and gender minorities, just as NCES does for groups identified by other demographic characteristics like race, ethnicity, household income, and what part of the country someone lives in. By sexual minorities, we mean people who report their sexual orientation to be something other than straight or heterosexual, and by gender minorities, we mean people whose sex as recorded at birth is different from their gender.

Over the past 10 years, NCES has researched how to best ask respondents about their sexual orientation and gender identity, how respondents react to these questions, and the quality of data that NCES has collected on these characteristics.

At NCES, several studies include background questions for adults about their sexual orientation and gender identity. These are the High School Longitudinal Study: 2009 (HSLS:09) Second Follow-up in 2016, the Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B) 08/18 and 16/21 collections, the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) in 2020, and the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS) 2020/22 (see table below for more details about these surveys).


 


The collection of these data allows NCES to describe the experiences of gender and sexual minority individuals. For example:

  • In 2020, postsecondary students who identified as genderqueer, gender nonconforming, or a different identity had difficulty finding safe and stable housing at three times the rate (9 percent) of students who identified as male or female (3 percent each).1
     
  • In 2018, about 10 years after completing a 2007–08 bachelor’s degree, graduates who were gender minorities2 described their financial situations. Graduates who were gender minorities were less likely to own a home (31 percent) or hold a retirement account (74 percent) than graduates who were not gender minorities (63 percent and 87 percent, respectively) (figure 1).3  

Figure 1. Percentage of 2007–08 bachelor’s degree recipients who owned a home, had a retirement account, reported negative net worth, and did not meet essential expenses in the past 12 months, by gender minority status in 2018

NOTE: “Retirement account” includes both employer-based retirement accounts such as 401(k), 403(b), and pensions, and non-employer-based retirement accounts such as individual retirement accounts. Respondents are considered to have negative net worth if they would still be in debt after selling all their major possessions, turning all their investments and other assets into cash, and paying off as many debts as they could. “Did not meet essential expenses” refers to being unable to meet essential living expenses such as mortgage or rent payments, utility bills, or important medical care. “Past 12 months” refers to any of the 12 months preceding the interview. Gender minority indicates whether the respondent’s gender identity differed from the sex assigned at birth. Gender identity categories include male; female; transgender, male-to-female; transgender, female-to-male; genderqueer or gender nonconforming; a different gender identity; and more than one gender identity.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2008/18 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:08/18).


  • In the 2017–18 school year, 18 percent of public schools had a recognized student group that promoted the acceptance of students’ sexual orientation and gender identity, such as a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA). This was an increase from the 2015–16 school year, in which 12 percent of schools reported having a GSA.4
     
  • For 2008 bachelor’s degree graduates with a full-time job in 2018, straight people reported higher average salaries than either lesbian/gay or bisexual people.  

NCES is committed to collecting data about equity in education and describing the experiences of SGM students, graduates, and educators.

To learn more about the research conducted at NCES and across the federal statistical system on the measurement of SOGI, please visit the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology (FCSM) website and check out these two presentations from the FCSM 2022 Research and Policy Conference: How do you Describe Yourself in the Workplace? Asking Teachers about their Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in a School Survey and Assessing Open-Ended Self-Reports of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: Is There Room For Improvement?.

 

By Maura Spiegelman and Elise Christopher, NCES


[1] U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2019–20 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:20, preliminary data).

[2] On the NCES surveys mentioned above, gender identity categories include male; female; transgender, male-to-female; transgender, female-to-male; genderqueer or gender nonconforming; a different gender identity; and more than one gender identity.

[3] U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2008/18 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:08/18).

[4] U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015–16 and 2017–18 School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS).

Releasing CCD Nonfiscal Data

The Common Core of Data (CCD) contains basic information on public elementary and secondary schools, local education agencies (LEAs), and state education agencies (SEAs) in the United States. The CCD collects fiscal and nonfiscal data about all public schools, public school districts, and state education agencies in the United States. Both IPEDS and CCD provide a sampling frame to many survey collections, including many conducted by NCES and the Department of Education. This blog post, one in a series of posts about CCD nonfiscal data, focuses on CCD’s two major releases and their corresponding components. For information on how to access and use CCD data, read the blog post Accessing the Common Core of Data (CCD).
 

Data Releases

CCD nonfiscal data are published in two releases every school year—as preliminary files and as provisional data files—within the CCD Data File tool. Understanding the differences between the two releases is important to understand how CCD nonfiscal data are released.

  • The preliminary files contain basic information about schools and districts, such as name, address, phone number, status, and NCES ID number. Many schools and districts utilize information from the directory file, such as the NCES ID, to apply for grants or other opportunities for their schools. Therefore, it is important that these files are released first, even if the data are still preliminary. 
     
  • The provisional data files are the full release of the CCD nonfiscal data. These data files provide school-, district-, and state-level data on topics like enrollment, staffing, and free or reduced-price lunch. These files are much more detailed and include data that are broken down by characteristics such as grade, race/ethnicity, and gender—as well as by combinations of these characteristics. These files are not updated unless there is a significant change to the data.

Each file release includes a version that indicates the type of release. The first preliminary files have “0a” in the file names, and revised preliminary files include “0b,” “0c,” and so on. The first provisional files have “1a,” in the file names, and revised provisional files include “1b,” “1c,” and so on. Note, however, that releasing revised files is rare.
 

Components of a Release

It is important to utilize the various components that accompany each release to find additional information that is specific to the file and can help you better understand the data. In addition, there are other resources available that provide more ways to access and understand the data.
 

Documentation Components

Every data file will have documentation files that provide information about the data. These include the following:

  • release notes—basic information about the data release, including details about any changes to the files, such as a change in a variable’s description or a variable that was added to the file; summary tables that include national totals and tables with selected frequencies are also included.
     
  • state data notes—information on data anomalies that are discovered during NCES’s collaboration with the states; broken down by state and by file type, these notes describe things like changes to how data were collected by the state.
     
  • companion files—included in each data file component, these files include a list of all the variables in the data file—including a brief description—and frequency tables; you should start with the companion files to better understand what variables are in each data file.


Resources and Tools

Along with the release of the CCD nonfiscal data files, additional resources are also updated to improve access to the data.

  • Summary Tables: Released with the provisional data files, Summary Tables provide a national-level look at the data. These tables show the operational status of schools and districts by type as well as the number of schools, students, and teachers by state.
     
  • Locators and ElSi: There are two primary tools that can be used to access CCD data: the Locators (School Locator and District Locator) and the Elementary/Secondary Information System (ElSi). These tools are updated as the data files are released. The Locators are updated with each release, while ElSi is updated with the release of the provisional data files. Learn more about these tools.
     
  • Online Documentation: The online documentation provides some general information about CCD. This information is not year specific, but it provides a detailed explanation about how the data are collected, processed, and reviewed.
  • Reference Library: The reference library includes detailed documentation on various components of the CCD files that applies to multiple years, levels, and components of the data collection. The library includes crosswalks, documentation describing changes to the collection, and guidance for utilizing the data files, such as how to aggregate free or reduced-price lunch data.

Be sure to follow NCES on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, and YouTube and subscribe to the NCES News Flash to stay up-to-date on future CCD releases and resources.

 

By Patrick Keaton, NCES