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National Center for Education Statistics

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)

 

Using IPEDS Data: Available Tools and Considerations for Use

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) contains comprehensive data on postsecondary institutions. IPEDS gathers information from every college, university, and technical and vocational institution that participates in federal student financial aid programs. The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, requires institutions that participate in federal student aid programs to report data on enrollments, program completions, graduation rates, faculty and staff, finances, institutional prices, and student financial aid.

These data are made available to the public in a variety of ways via the IPEDS Use the Data webpage. This blog post provides a description of available IPEDS data tools as well as considerations for determining the appropriate tool to use.


Available Data Tools

College Navigator

College Navigator is a free consumer information tool designed to help students, parents, high school counselors, and others access information about postsecondary institutions.

Note that this tool can be found on the Find Your College webpage (under "Search for College"), along with various other resources to help users plan for college.

IPEDS provides data tools for a variety of users that are organized into three general categories: (1) Search Existing Data, (2) Create Custom Data Analyses, and (3) Download IPEDS Data.

Search Existing Data

Users can search for aggregate tables, charts, publications, or other products related to postsecondary education using the Data Explorer or access IPEDS data via NCES publications like the Digest of Education Statistics or the Condition of Education.

Create Custom Data Analyses

Several data tools allow users to create their own custom analyses with frequently used and derived variables (Data Trends) or all available data collected within IPEDS (Statistical Tables). Users can also customize tables for select subgroups of institutions (Summary Tables). Each of these options allows users to generate analyses within the limitations of the tool itself.

For example, there are three report types available under the Data Feedback Report (DFR) tool. User can

  1. select data from the most recent collection year across frequently used and derived variables to create a Custom DFR;
     
  2. create a Statistical Analysis Report using the variables available for the Custom DFR; and
     
  3. access the NCES developed DFR for any institution.

Download IPEDS Data

Other data tools provide access to raw data through a direct download (Complete Data Files) or through user selections in the IPEDS Custom Data Files tool. In addition, IPEDS data can be downloaded for an entire collection year for all survey components via the Access Database.

IPEDS Data Tools Help

The IPEDS Data Tools User Manual is designed to help guide users through the various functions, processes, and abundant capabilities of IPEDS data tools. The manual contains a wealth of information, hints, tips, and insights for using the tools.

 

Data Tool Considerations

Users may consider several factors—related to both data selection and data extraction—when determining the right tool for a particular question or query.

Data Selection​

  1. Quick access – Accessing data in a few steps may be helpful for users who want to find data quickly. Several data tools provide data quickly but may be limited in their selection options or customizable output.

  2. Data release – IPEDS data are released to the public in two phases: Provisional and Final. Provisional data have undergone quality control procedures and imputation for missing data but have not been updated based on changes within the Prior Year Revision System. Final data reflect changes made within the Prior Year Revision System and additional quality control procedures and will not change. Some tools allow users to access only final data. Table 1 summarizes how provisional and final data are used by various data tools. The IPEDS resource page “Timing of IPEDS Data Collection, Coverage, and Release Cycle” provides more information on data releases.


    Table 1. How provisional and final data are used in various data tools

  1. Select institutions – Users may want to select specific institutions for their analyses. Several tools allow users to limit the output for a selected list of institutions while others include all institutions in the output.
     
  2. Multiple years – While some tools provide a single year of data, many tools provide access to multiple years of data in a single output.
     
  3. Raw data – Some data tools provide access to the raw data as submitted to IPEDS. For example, Look Up an Institution allows users access to survey forms submitted by an institution.
     
  4. Institution-level data – Many data tools provide data at the institution level, since this is the unit of analysis within the IPEDS system.
     
  5. All data available – Many data tools provide access to frequently used and derived variables, but others provide access to the entirety of variables collected within the IPEDS system.

Data Extraction

  1. Save/upload institutions – Several data tools allow a user to create and download a list of institutions, which can be uploaded in a future session.

  2. Save/upload variables – Two data tools allow a user to save the variables selected and upload in a future session.
     
  3. Export data – Many data tools allow a user to download data into a spreadsheet, while others provide information within a PDF. Note that several tools have limitations on the number of variables that can be downloaded in a session (e.g., Compare Institutions has a limit of 250 variables).
     
  4. Produce visuals – Several data tools produce charts, graphs, or other visualizations. For example, Data Trends provides users with the opportunity to generate a bar or line chart and text table.


Below is a graphic that summarizes these considerations for each IPEDS data tool (click the image to enlarge it). 

 

To find training opportunities—including video tutorials, workshops, and keyholder courses—check out the IPEDS Training Center. Plus, access the IPEDS Distance Learning Dataset Training modules for more guidance on how to use IPEDS data. For additional questions, call the IPEDS Data Use Help Desk at (866) 558-0658 or e-mail ipedstools@rti.org.

 

By Tara B. Lawley, NCES, and Eric S. Atchison, Arkansas State University System and Association for Institutional Research IPEDS Educator

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.

NCES Celebrates IES and NCES Anniversaries With Retrospective Report on Federal Education Statistics

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and 155 years since the creation of a federal agency to collect and report education statistics for the United States, a role now fulfilled by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). To celebrate both of these anniversaries, NCES has just released a new commemorative report—A Retrospective Look at U.S. Education Statistics—that explores the history and use of federal education statistics.



The 11 statistical profiles in phase I of this report can be found within two tabs: Elementary and Secondary Education and Postsecondary Education. Users can toggle between these two tabs and then select a particular statistical profile in the drop-down menu, such as Number of Elementary and Secondary Schools, High School Coursetaking, Enrollment in Postsecondary Institutions, and Postsecondary Student Costs and Financing.


Image of report website showing tabs for Elementary and Secondary Education and Postsecondary Education and the drop-down menu to select individual statistical profiles


Each of the statistical profiles in this report is broken down into the following sections:

  • what the statistic measures (what the data may indicate about a particular topic)
  • what to know about the statistic (the history of the data collection and how it may have changed over time)
  • what the data reveal (broad historical trends/patterns in the data, accompanied by figures)
  • more information (reference tables and related resources)

Each statistical profile can be downloaded as a PDF, and each figure within a profile can be downloaded or shared via a link or on social media.

For background and context, this report also includes a Historical Event Timeline. In this section, readers can learn about major periods of prolonged economic downturn, periods of military action, and periods when U.S. troops were drafted as a part of military action—as well as major pieces of federal legislation—and how some of these events could have disrupted the nation’s social life and schooling or impacted education across the country.

The report also includes a brief overview of NCES, which can be accessed by expanding the dark blue bar labeled NCES Overview: Past, Present, and Future. This section covers the history of NCES and its mission, the evolution of NCES reports and data collections, and current and future changes to NCES’s reporting methods.


Image of report website showing introductory text and the NCES Overview blue bar


This commemorative guide to federal education statistics is not intended to be a comprehensive report on the subject but rather a resource that provides an in-depth look at a selection of statistics. Stay tuned for the release of phase II next year, which will include additional statistical profiles. Be sure to follow NCES on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, and YouTube and subscribe to the NCES News Flash to stay up-to-date!

 

By Megan Barnett, AIR