IES Blog

Institute of Education Sciences

How Often Do High School Students Meet With Counselors About College? Differences by Parental Education and Counselor Caseload

There are many factors that can affect students’ decisions to apply to college, such as income, school engagement, and coursework.1 Similarly, previous research has reported that students whose parents did not hold a college degree (i.e., first-generation college students) enrolled in college at a lower rate than did peers whose parents held a college degree.2 However, high school counselors may help students choose colleges and apply to them, meaning that students who meet with a counselor about college could be more likely to attend college.3 Counselors may help potential first-generation college students plan for college by providing information that continuing-generation students already have access to via their parents who had attained college degrees themselves. Despite the potential benefits of meeting with a counselor, a school's counselor caseloads may affect its students' counseling opportunities.4

What percentage of high school students met with a counselor about college? How did this percentage vary by parental education and counselor caseload?

Around 47 percent of 2009 ninth-graders were potential first-generation college students whose parents did not hold a college degree (table U1). These students met with a counselor at a lower rate than did students whose parents held a college degree. Figure 1 shows that 72 percent of students whose parents did not hold a college degree met with a counselor, compared with 76 and 82 percent of students whose parents held an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree or higher, respectively.


Figure 1. Percentage of students who met with a counselor about college in 2012–13, by average counselor caseload level at the school and parents' highest education level

NOTE: Caseload is a continuous variable based on counselor reports of the average number of students per counselor at the school. Each caseload category accounts for roughly one-third of the sample in the unweighted data. Low caseload refers to counselors responsible for 40 to 299 students, medium caseload refers to counselors responsible for 300 to 399 students, and high caseload refers to counselors responsible for 400 or more students. The category high school degree or less incudes high school diploma or GED and those who started college but did not complete a degree. Respondents who did not know whether they met with a counselor are excluded from the analyses. These represent approximately 8 percent of weighted cases. 
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09) Base year, First Follow-up, and 2013 update.


During the senior year of most of the cohort of 2009 ninth-graders, the average counselor caseload at schools attended by these students5 was 375 students per counselor. The average caseload at public schools was 388, and the average caseload at private schools was 202.

Students attending schools with low counselor caseloads met with a counselor about college at a higher rate than did students at schools with high counselor caseloads, when comparing students whose parents had similar attainment levels. For example, at schools with low caseloads, 79 percent of students whose parents held a high school degree or less met with a counselor about college, compared with 70 percent of these students at schools with high caseloads. This pattern is also true for students at schools with low caseloads compared with medium caseloads (i.e., 86 vs. 76 percent of students whose parents held an associate’s degree and 89 vs. 81 percent of students whose parents held a bachelor’s degree), except among students whose parents held a high school degree or less (79 percent was not statistically different from 74 percent). Finally, students whose parents held a high school degree or less met with a counselor at a lower rate than did students whose parents held a bachelor’s degree or higher in each caseload category (i.e., 79 vs. 89 percent for low caseload schools, 74 vs. 81 percent for medium caseload schools, and 70 vs. 77 percent for high caseload schools).

For more information about counselor meetings and college enrollment, check out this Data Point: High School Counselor Meetings About College, College Attendance, and Parental Education.

This blog post uses data from the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09), a national study of more than 23,000 ninth-graders and their school counselors in fall 2009. Student sample members answered surveys between 2009 and 2016. Sample members or their parents reported on whether the student met with a counselor about college during the 2012–13 school year (most students’ 12th-grade year).

While data presented here are the most recent data available on the topic, NCES will have new data on high schoolers’ experiences in the 2020s coming soon. In particular, data from the High School and Beyond Longitudinal Study of 2022 (HS&B:22), which also includes information about students’ visits to school counselors, is forthcoming.

Until those data are released, we recommend you access HSLS:09 student and counselor data to conduct your own analyses via NCES’s DataLab.

 

By Catharine Warner-Griffin, AnLar, and Elise Christopher, NCES


[1] See, for example, Fraysier, K., Reschly, A., and Appleton, J. (2020). Predicting Postsecondary Enrollment With Secondary Student Engagement Data. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 38(7), 882–899.

[2] Cataldi, E. F., Bennett, C. T., and Chen, X. (2018). First-Generation Students: College Access, Persistence, and Postbachelor’s Outcomes (2018-421). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.

[3] Tang, A. K., and Ng, K. M. (2019). High School Counselor Contacts as Predictors of College Enrollment. Professional Counselor, 9(4), 347–357.

[4] Woods, C. S., and Domina, T. (2014). The School Counselor Caseload and the High School-to-College Pipeline. Teachers College Record, 116(10), 1–30.

[5] These schools are only those sampled in the base year (i.e., students’ 2009 schools).

NCES Provides New Data Table on School District Structures

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has released a new data table (Excel) on local education agencies (LEAs)1 that serve multiple counties. This new data table can help researchers understand how many LEAs exist and break down enrollment by LEA and county.

Variation in School District Structures

The organizing structures for LEAs vary across the United States. In many areas of the country, LEAs share boundaries with counties or cities. In other areas, there are multiple LEAs within a single county. LEAs also can span multiple counties.

The organizing structures for LEAs or school districts reflect the policies and practices of local and state governments and historical trends across many states. For example, there was a large consolidation in LEAs in the last century as the number of regular school districts decreased from 117,100 in 1939–40 to fewer than 14,900 in 2000–01. In contrast to these declines, the numbers of charter schools and charter school agencies operating outside of regular school district and county frameworks have increased over the past 2 decades.2

Impact of Structural Differences in School Districts

These structural differences can make it challenging for researchers to estimate student enrollment by county and drill down into other data. This is important because the structure of LEAs and their relationships to county boundaries can impact the capability of researchers and policy analysts to align existing county and district data in ways that could better inform education policies.3 In addition, these structures can affect the designs of new surveys and research activities. For example, research or data collections on career and technical education (CTE) activities at the district level would need to accommodate structural differences in where CTE activities are typically provided—that is, in general education districts (as is the case in most states) or through separate CTE-focused LEAs.

New Data Table on LEAs Serving Multiple Counties

NCES has taken valuable steps to increase the amount of information available to the research community about funding crossing district lines. In fiscal year 2018, a data item was added to the School District Finance Survey (F-33) that includes current expenditures made by regional education service agencies (RESAs) and other specialized service agencies (e.g., supervisory unions) that benefit the reporting LEA.4

Our recently released data table (Excel)—which shows the prevalence and enrollment size of LEAs that serve multiple counties—will facilitate a better understanding of how RESA expenditures are included in the district-level total current expenditures and current expenditure per pupil amounts displayed in the annual Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts finance tables.

Understanding the New Data Table

The data table uses data from the Common Core of Data (CCD) and Demographic and Geographic Estimates (EDGE) to provide county and student enrollment information on each LEA in the United States (i.e., in the 50 states and the District of Columbia) with a separate row for each county in which the agency has a school presence. The table includes all LEA types, such as regular school districts, independent charter school districts, supervisory union administrative centers, service agencies, state agencies, federal agencies, specialized public school districts, and other types of agencies.

LEA presence within a county is determined by whether it had at least one operating school in the county. School presence within a county is determined by whether there is at least one operating school in the county identified in the CCD school-level membership file. For example, an LEA that is coterminous with a county has one record (row) in the listing. A charter school LEA that serves a region of a state and has a presence in five counties has five records. LEA administrative units, which do not operate schools, are listed in the county in which the agency is located.

In the 2021–22_LEA_List tab, column D shows the “multicnty” (i.e., multicounty) variable. LEAs are assigned one of the following codes:

1 = School district (LEA) is in single county and has reported enrollment.

2 = School district (LEA) is in more than one county and has reported enrollment.

8 = School district (LEA) reports no schools and no enrollment, and the county reflects county location of the administrative unit. 

9 = School district (LEA) reports schools but no enrollment, and the county reflects county location of the schools.

In the Values tab, the “Distribution of local education agencies, by enrollment and school status: 2021–22” table shows the frequency of each of the codes (1, 2, 8, and 9) (i.e., the number of records that are marked with each of the codes in the 2021–22_LEA_List tab):

  • 17,073 LEAs had schools in only one county.
  • 1,962 LEAs had schools located in more than one county and reported enrollment for these schools.
  • 1,110 LEAs had no schools of their own and were assigned to a single county based on the location of the LEA address. (Typically, supervisory union administrative centers are examples of these LEAs.)
  • 416 LEAs had schools located in one county but did not report enrollment for these schools.

 

By Tom Snyder, AIR


[1] Find the official definition of an LEA.

[4] The annual School District Finance Survey (F-33) is collected by NCES from state education agencies and the District of Columbia. See Documentation for the NCES Common Core of Data School District Finance Survey (F-33) for more information.

NCES Presentation at National HBCU Week Conference

In NCES’s recently released Strategic Plan, Goal 3 identifies our commitment to foster and leverage beneficial partnerships. To fulfill that goal, NCES participates in multiple conferences and meetings throughout the year. Recently, NCES participated in the National Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Week Conference. NCES’s presentation at this conference helps us to establish a dialogue with HBCUs and develop partnerships to address critical issues in education.

NCES Commissioner Peggy G. Carr kicked off the presentation with an overview of HBCU data—such as student characteristics, enrollment, and financial aid. Then, NCES experts explored how data from various NCES surveys can help researchers, educators, and policymakers better understand the condition and progress of HBCUs. Read on to learn about these surveys.

 

Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is an annual administrative data collection that gathers information from more than 6,000 postsecondary institutions, including 99 degree-granting, Title IV–eligible HBCUs (in the 2021–22 academic year).

The data collected in IPEDS includes information on institutional characteristics and resources; admissions and completions; student enrollment; student financial aid; and human resources (i.e., staff characteristics). These data are disaggregated, offering insights into student and employee demographics by race/ethnicity and gender, students’ age categories, first-time/non-first-time enrollment statuses, and full-time/part-time attendance intensity.

Data from IPEDS can be explored using various data tools—such as Data Explorer, Trend Generator, and College Navigator—that cater to users with varying levels of data knowledge and varying data needs.

 

National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS)

The National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) is a nationally representative study that examines the characteristics of students in postsecondary institutions—including HBCUs—with a special focus on how they finance their education. NPSAS collects data on the percentage of HBCU students receiving financial aid and the average amounts received from various sources (i.e., federal, state, and institution) by gender and race/ethnicity.

Conducted every 3 or 4 years, this study combines data from student surveys, student-level school records, and other administrative sources and is designed to describe the federal government’s investment in financing students’ postsecondary education.

Data from NPSAS can be explored using DataLab and PowerStats.

 

National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS)

The National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS) is the U.S. Department of Education’s primary source of information on K–12 public and private schools from the perspectives of teachers and administrators. NTPS consists of coordinated surveys of schools, principals, and teachers and includes follow-up surveys to study principal and teacher attrition.

Among many other topics, NTPS collects data on the race/ethnicity of teachers and principals. These data—which show that Black teachers and principals make up a relatively small portion of the K–12 workforce—can be used to explore the demographics and experiences of teachers and principals. NTPS provides postsecondary institutions, like HBCUs, a snapshot of the preK–12 experiences of students and staff.

Data from NTPS can be explored using DataLab and PowerStats.

 

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)—also known as the Nation’s Report Card—is the the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what students in public and private schools in the United States know and are able to do in various subjects.

Main NAEP assesses students in grades 4, 8, and 12 in subjects like reading, mathematics, science, and civics, while NAEP Long-Term Trend assesses 9-, 13-, and 17-year-olds in reading and mathematics.

Among many other topics, NAEP collects data on students by race/ethnicity. These data can help to shed light on students’ experiences, academic performance, and level of preparedness before they enroll in HBCUs.

Data from NAEP can be explored using the NAEP Data Explorer.

 

To explore more HBCU data from these and other NCES surveys—including enrollment trends from 1976 to 2021—check out this annually updated Fast Fact. Be sure to follow NCES on X, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube and subscribe to the NCES News Flash to stay up to date on the latest from NCES.

 

By Megan Barnett, AIR

Education at a Glance 2023: Putting U.S. Data in a Global Context

International comparisons provide reference points for researchers and policy analysts to understand trends and patterns in national education data and are very important as U.S. students compete in an increasingly global economy.

Education at a Glance (EAG), an annual publication produced by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), provides data on the structure, finances, and progress of education systems in 38 OECD countries—including the United States—as well as a number of OECD accession and partner countries. Data presented in EAG on topics of high policy interest in the United States are also featured in NCES reports, including the Condition of Education and Digest of Education Statistics.  

The recently released 2023 edition of EAG shows that the United States is above the international average on some measures, such as funding of postsecondary education, but lags behind in others, such as participation in early childhood education and care (ECEC). The 2023 report also features a Spotlight on Vocational Education and Training as well as interactive data dashboards on ECEC systems, upper secondary education systems, and educational support for Ukrainian refugees.


Spotlight on Vocational Education and Training (VET)

Each EAG edition centers on a particular theme of high policy relevance in OECD countries. The focus of this year’s report is VET programs, which look very different in the United States compared with many other OECD countries. Unlike in many OECD countries, most high schools in the United States do not offer a separate, distinct vocational track at the upper secondary (high school) level. Instead, vocational education is available as optional career and technical education (CTE) courses throughout high school. Regardless of whether they choose to take CTE courses, all U.S. students who complete high school have the same potential to access postsecondary programs. In other OECD countries, selecting a vocational track at this level may lead to different postsecondary opportunities. Check out the 2023 EAG Spotlight for an overview of VET programs across OECD countries.


Highlights From EAG 2023

Below is a selection of topics from the EAG report highlighting how key education benchmarks in the United States compare with other OECD countries.


Postsecondary Educational Attainment

The percentage of U.S. 25- to 34-year-olds with a postsecondary degree increased by 13 percentage points between 2000 and 2022, reaching 51 percent (the OECD average in 2022 was 47 percent) (Table A1.3).1 In this age group in the United States, higher percentages of women than men attained a postsecondary degree (56 vs. 46 percent) (Table A1.2). Across OECD countries, the average postsecondary educational attainment gap between 25- to 34-year-old men and women in 2022 (13 percentage points) was wider than the gap in the United States (10 percentage points). In the United States, the postsecondary attainment rate for 25- to 34-year-old men was 5 percentage points higher than the OECD average, and the attainment rate for women was 3 percentage points higher than the OECD average.


Figure 1. Percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds with a postsecondary degree, by OECD country: 2022

[click to enlarge image]

Data include a small percentage of adults with lower levels of attainment.
Year of reference differs from 2022. Refer to the source table for more details.
SOURCE: OECD (2023), Table A1.3. See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes.


International Student Enrollment

The United States is the top OECD destination country for international students enrolling in postsecondary education. In 2021, some 833,204 foreign students were enrolled in postsecondary programs in the United States, representing 13 percent of the international education market share (Table B6.1).2 In comparison, the United Kingdom had the second highest number of international students enrolled in postsecondary education in 2021, representing 9 percent of the international education market share. Interestingly, when examining enrollment trends over the past 3 years (2019 to 2021), foreign student enrollment decreased by 143,649 students (15 percent) in the United States but increased by 111,570 students (23 percent) in the United Kingdom. International student enrollment during these years was likely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, which had large impacts on global travel in 2020 and 2021.


Education Spending

U.S. spending on education is relatively high across all levels of education compared with the OECD average. The largest difference is in postsecondary spending, where the United States spent $36,172 per full-time postsecondary student in 2020, the second highest amount after Luxembourg ($53,421) and nearly double the OECD average ($18,105) (Table C1.1).3 This spending on postsecondary education amounts to 2.5 percent of the U.S. GDP, higher than the OECD average (1.5 percent) (Table C2.1). These total expenditures include amounts received from governments, students, and all other sources.


Figure 2. Expenditures per full-time equivalent student, by education level and OECD country: 2020

[click to enlarge image]

1 Year of reference differs from 2020. Refer to the source table for more details.
SOURCE: OECD (2023), Table C1.1. See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes.


High School Completion Rate

The United States has a higher upper secondary (high school) completion rate than most other OECD countries. In 2021, some 87 percent of U.S. students completed their high school program in the expected timeframe, compared with the OECD average of 72 percent (Table B3.1).


Early Childhood Education

The level of participation in early childhood education programs in the United States is below the OECD average. In 2021, average enrollment rates across OECD countries were 72 percent for 3-year-olds, 87 percent for 4-year-olds, and 84 percent for 5-year-olds (Table B2.1). In contrast, enrollment rates for students of these ages in the United States were 30 percent for 3-year-olds, 50 percent for 4-years-olds, and 81 percent for 5-year-olds.  

 

Browse the full EAG 2023 report to see how the United States compares with other countries on these and other important education-related topics.

 

By RaeAnne Friesenhahn, AIR, and Cris De Brey, NCES


[1] EAG data for the year 2000 can be accessed via the online OECD Stat database.

[2] Unrounded data in Excel format can be accessed via the StatLink located below each table.

[3] Expenditure in national currencies was converted into equivalent USD by dividing the national currency figure by the purchasing power parity (PPP) index for GDP. For more details on methodology see Annex 2 and Annex 3.

Highlights From the FY 21 Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education Report

NCES recently released a finance tables report, Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: FY 21 (NCES 2023-301), which draws from data in the National Public Education Financial Survey (NPEFS). To accompany the report, NCES has updated the interactive data visualization tool to highlight the per pupil revenues and expenditures (adjusted for inflation) and average daily attendance (ADA) trends from the fiscal year 2021 (FY 21) NPEFS.

This tool allows users to see national or state-specific per pupil amounts and year-to-year percentage changes for both total revenue and current expenditures by using a slider to toggle between the two variables. Total revenues are shown by source, and total current expenditures are shown by function and subfunction. Clicking on a state in the map will display data for the selected state in the bar charts.

The tool also allows users to see the ADA for each state. It is sortable by state, ADA amount, and percentage change. It may also be filtered to easily compare selected states. Hovering over the ADA of a state will display another bar graph with the last 3 years of ADA data.

Overall, the results show that spending1 on elementary and secondary education increased in school year 2020–21 (FY 21). This is the eighth consecutive year that year-over-year education spending increased (since FY 13), after adjusting for inflation. This increase follows declines in year-over-year spending for the prior 4 years (FY 10 through FY 13).

 

Revenues

The 50 states and the District of Columbia reported $837.3 billion in revenues collected for public elementary and secondary education in FY 21. State and local governments provided $748.9 billion, or 89.4 percent of all revenues. The federal government contributed $88.4 billion, or 10.6 percent of all revenues. Total revenues increased by 3.0 percent after adjusting for inflation2 (from $812.8 to $837.3 billion) from FY 20 to FY 21; local revenues remained relatively unchanged (from $365.1 to $365.1 billion); state revenues decreased by 0.6 percent (from $385.9 to $383.8 billion); and federal revenues increased by 43.2 percent (from $61.8 to $88.4 billion).

Total revenues per pupil averaged $17,015 on a national basis in FY 21. This reflects an increase of 5.9 percent between FY 20 and FY 21 and follows an increase of 1.5 percent from FY 19 to FY 20. The percentage change in revenues per pupil from FY 20 to FY 21 ranged from an increase of 15.3 percent in Maine to a decrease of 4.2 percent in Hawaii.


Image of NPEFS data visualization site showing revenues per pupil for public elementary and secondary schools in FY 20 and FY 21


Revenues from COVID-19 Federal Assistance Funds for public elementary and secondary education totaled $25.3 billion, or 28.6 percent of all federal revenues.

  • Revenues from the Federal Coronavirus Relief Fund accounted for $8.9 billion, or 35.2 percent of total revenues from COVID-19 Federal Assistance Funds.
     
  • Revenues from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER I) Fund accounted for $8.5 billion, or 33.7 percent of total revenues from COVID-19 Federal Assistance Funds.
     
  • Revenues from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER II) Fund accounted for $6.5 billion, or 25.8 percent of total revenues from COVID-19 Federal Assistance Funds.

 

Expenditures

Current expenditures for public elementary and secondary education across the nation increased by 0.7 percent between FY 20 and FY 21 (from $698.3 to $703.5 billion). Within that increase, expenditures for instruction increased by 1.1 percent between FY 20 and FY 21 (from $422.4 to $427.1 billion), and student support expenditures increased by 3.6 percent between FY 20 and FY 21 (from $44.0 to $45.6 billion).

Current expenditures per pupil for the day-to-day operation of public elementary and secondary schools was $14,295 in FY 21, an increase of 3.5 percent from FY 20.3 In FY 21, education spending was 16.7 percent higher than at the lowest point of the Great Recession in FY 13.


Figure 1. National inflation-adjusted current expenditures per public for public elementary and secondary education: Fiscal years 2012 through 2021

 

NOTE: Spending is reported in constant FY 21 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). National totals include the 50 states and the District of Columbia. California did not report prekindergarten membership in the State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/Secondary Education. California reported prekindergarten expenditures separately, and these expenditures were excluded from the amounts reported in this figure.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), “National Public Education Financial Survey,” fiscal years 2012 through 2020, Final Version 2a; and fiscal year 2021, Provisional Version 1a; and Digest of Education Statistics 2021, table 106.75. Retrieved March 9, 2023, from nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d21/tables/dt21_106.75.asp.


Without making adjustments for geographic cost differences, current expenditures per pupil ranged from $9,014 in Utah to $26,097 in New York. In addition to New York, current expenditures per pupil were highest in the District of Columbia ($25,113), Vermont ($24,050), New Jersey ($22,784), and Connecticut ($22,216). In addition to Utah, current expenditures per pupil were lowest in Idaho ($9,054), Arizona ($9,571), Mississippi ($10,060), and Nevada ($10,073). The states with the largest increases in current expenditures per pupil from FY 20 to FY 21 were Maine (11.9 percent), Arizona (7.6 percent), Montana (7.4 percent), Louisiana (7.3 percent), and Massachusetts (6.6 percent).


Image of NPEFS data visualization site showing current expenditures per pupil for public elementary and secondary schools in FY 20 and FY 21


In FY 21, salaries and wages ($389.2 billion) in conjunction with employee benefits ($169.7 billion) accounted for 79.4 percent ($558.8 billion) of current expenditures for public elementary and secondary education. Expenditures for instruction and instructional staff support services comprised 65.8 percent ($462.9 billion) of total current expenditures.

Between FY 20 and FY 21, total expenditures increased by 0.2 percent (from $812.3 to $813.6 billion). Of the $813.6 billion in total expenditures in FY 21, 86.5 percent were current expenditures, 9.8 percent were capital outlay expenditures, 2.7 percent were interest on debt, and 1.1 percent were expenditures for other programs.

Current expenditures from federal Title I grants for economically disadvantaged students (including carryover expenditures) accounted for $16.3 billion, or 2.3 percent of current expenditures for public elementary and secondary education at the national level in FY 21. Nationally, Title I expenditures per pupil averaged $331 and ranged from $123 in Utah to $874 in New York.

Current expenditures paid from COVID-19 Federal Assistance Funds for public elementary and secondary education totaled $24.2 billion for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Of these, instructional expenditures accounted for $13.7 billion, or 56.5 percent of current expenditures paid from COVID-19 Federal Assistance Funds, and support services expenditures accounted for $9.1 billion, or 37.6 percent of current expenditures paid from COVID-19 Federal Assistance Funds.

To explore data on public elementary and secondary revenues, expenditures, and ADA, check out our new data visualization tool.

Be sure to follow NCES on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, and YouTube and subscribe to the NCES News Flash to stay up-to-date on the latest from the National Public Education Financial Survey.

 

By Stephen Q. Cornman, NCES, and Malia Howell and Jeremy Phillips, U.S. Census Bureau

 


[1] Spending refers to current expenditures. Current expenditures are composed of expenditures for the day-to-day operation of schools and school districts for public elementary and secondary education, including expenditures for staff salaries and benefits, supplies, and purchased services. Current expenditures include instruction, instruction-related, support services (e.g., social work, health, and psychological services), and other elementary/secondary current expenditures but exclude expenditures on capital outlay, other programs, and interest on long-term debt.

[2] Throughout this blog post, all comparisons between years are adjusted for inflation by converting the figures to constant dollars. Inflation adjustments utilize the Consumer Price Index (CPI) published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. For comparability to fiscal education data, NCES adjusts the CPI from a calendar year to a school fiscal year basis (July through June). See Digest of Education Statistics 2021, table 106.70.

[3] Per pupil expenditures are calculated using student membership derived from the State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/Secondary Education. In some states, adjustments are made to ensure consistency between membership and reported fiscal data. More information on these adjustments can be found in the data file documentation.