National Center for Education Statistics

NCES Fast Facts Deliver Data to Your Door

By Molly Fenster, American Institutes for Research

Have you ever wondered how many public high school students graduate on time? Or wanted to know the types of safety and security measures schools use, or the latest trends in the cost of a college education? If so, the NCES Fast Facts website has the answers for you!

Launched on March 1, 1999, the Fast Facts site originally included 45 responses to the questions most frequently asked by callers to the NCES Help Line. Today, the more than 70 Fast Facts answer questions of interest to education stakeholders–such as a teacher, school administrator, or researcher–as well as college students, parents, and community members with a specific interest or data need. The facts feature text, tables, figures, and links from various published sources, primarily the Digest of Education Statistics and The Condition of Education, and they are updated periodically with new data from recently released publications and products. 

For example, the screenshot below shows one of the most accessed Fast Facts on high school dropout rates:

Access the site for the full Fast Fact, as well as links to “Related Tables and Figures” and “Other Resources” on high school dropout rates.

The other facts on the site feature a diverse range of topics from child care, homeschooling, students with disabilities, teachers, and enrollment, to graduation rates, educational attainment, international education, finances, and more. The site is organized to provide concise, current information in the following areas:

  • Assessments;
  • Early Childhood;
  • Elementary and Secondary;
  • Library;
  • Postsecondary and Beyond; and
  • Resources.

Five recently released Fast Facts on ACT scores; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education; public school students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch; postsecondary student debt; and Historically Black Colleges and Universities offer the latest data on these policy-relevant and interesting education topics.

Join our growing base of users and visit the Fast Facts site today!

NCES hosts 11th Annual Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) Best Practices Conference

By Charles McGrew and Ross Santy

Representatives from 40 states and 6 territories are gathering in Crystal City, VA this week for the 11th Annual SLDS Best Practices Conference. The conference, starting on Feb 28 and concluding March 2, provides an opportunity for data system leaders from all states, both SLDS program grantees and non-grantee states, to collaborate with and learn from SLDS program officers, the State Support Team of experts and most importantly each other as examples of best practices are presented and shared. Topics on the agenda for this year’s conference include models for hosting statewide data summits, ways to visualize data for improved data use, and effective practices that improve the protection of individual students’ privacy within developed data systems and data sharing agreements.  

To date, the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) Grant Program has awarded over $700 million dollars in funds to support states’ and territories’ efforts to collect and use data to improve their decision-making and educational practices. Grants have been awarded for states to improve the quality of their data, with states deciding how to use the grant funds based upon their own specific needs as outlined in their approved applications. Through the SLDS program the Department is able to provide technical support to help all states successfully achieve their objectives. Over the life of the program, 47 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa have received funding through this competitive grant program. Nearly three-quarters of these states have received more than one grant.


The Program was authorized in 2002 through the Educational Technical Assistance Act. It is administered by the National Center for Education Statistics within the Institute of Education Sciences. Grants were first awarded in 2006. When the Program started, most states did not have a central database to house data from all their school districts, which hampered their ability to use data effectively to inform state policies and made reporting much more complicated. Five grant rounds later, all states and territories have detailed K-12 data in their states’ data systems, many also connect with postsecondary data, and a growing number are establishing connecting which are focused on workforce outcomes.  Although some grantees have used their systems to reduce the burden and improve the quality of their state and federal reporting, no individual, student-level data are sent to the U.S. Department of Education.

The most recent round of grant awards, made in 2015, allowed states or territories to request funds in support of their efforts to improve data utilization in one or two of the following areas: Financial Equity and Return on Investment, Educator Talent Management, Early Learning, College and Career, Evaluation and Research, and Instructional Support.  A number of states are working to improve linking across data sources to inform broad education and labor force policies, and many others are developing systems with these capabilities. Later this year, NCES will release the results of a 2017 SLDS Survey, which will provide more specific information about state progress, capacity, and self-reported plans for their information systems.

CTE Statistics: New Information on How Adults Prepare for Work

By Lisa Hudson

Education provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to be informed citizens, productive workers, and responsible community members. Meeting one of these goals—preparing students for work—is the main goal of career and technical education (CTE, formerly known as vocational education). To monitor CTE in the United States, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) produces a comprehensive set of statistical data on CTE at the secondary and postsecondary levels, as well as on adult preparation for work. These statistics, and related reports, are available on the CTE Statistics website.

NCES recently released data related to preparation for work, which was collected as part of the 2016 Adult Education and Training Survey (ATES).  The ATES asked a nationally-representative sample of adults about their attainment of two often-overlooked work credentials—licenses and certifications—and about their completion of work experience programs (such as internships and apprenticeships).  The survey also examined the role of education in helping adults attain these credentials and complete these programs.

The data show that 21 percent of adults have a currently active license or certification, with 18 percent reporting they have a license and 6 percent reporting they have a certification (some adults have both). Additionally, completion of degree programs is related to the attainment of these work credentials. For example, having a certification or license is more common among adults who have a college degree than among adults with lower levels of education (see figure).  In addition, about two-thirds of the adults who have completed a certification or licensing program (67 percent) did so in conjunction with coursetaking after high school.

Findings are similar for work experience programs. Overall, 21 percent of adults have completed a work experience program, and 14 percent of adults have completed a work experience program that was part of an educational program after high school.

Finally, the ATES showed that work credentials and work experience programs are particularly common in the health care field. In fact, health care was the most common field in which both licenses and certifications were held (31 percent of credentialed adults), and the most common field in which adults had completed a work experience program (26 percent of program completers) .

The information discussed in this blog is drawn from the ATES “First Look” report. The CTE Statistics website also includes a summary of these key findings, and within the next year additional ATES statistics will be added to the website.  To sign up for automatic email notifications on when new material is added to the CTE Statistics website, visit the IES newsflash (under National Center for Education Statistics, check the box for “Adult and Career Education”).  We look forward to sharing future results with you!

Where Are They Now? Following up with High School Ninth-Graders Seven Years Later

By Lauren Musu-Gillette and Elise Christopher

Seventy-two percent of all fall 2009 ninth-graders had enrolled in postsecondary education by February 2016, about 3 years after most students had completed high school. Among these students who enrolled in postsecondary education, the majority (82 percent) had enrolled within 4 months of leaving high school. These findings come from the most recent wave
of the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09). HSLS:09 follows a nationally representative sample of students who were ninth-graders in fall 2009 from the beginning of high school into higher education and the workforce. 

Among all 2009 ninth-graders who had enrolled in postsecondary education by February 2016, about 36 percent first enrolled at a public 2-year college, 41 percent at a public 4-year college, 16 percent at a private nonprofit 4-year college, and the remainder (7 percent) attended a for-profit or other type of institution.

A higher percentage of females (77 percent) than males (68 percent) had enrolled in any postsecondary education by February 2016. Additionally, a higher percentage of Asian students (88 percent) had enrolled in postsecondary education than students of all other racial/ethnic groups shown. The percentage of enrollees was also higher for White students (76 percent) than for Black students (65 percent), Hispanic students (68 percent), and students of Other or Two or more races (69 percent).

Percentage of fall 2009 ninth-graders enrolled in postsecondary education as of February 2016, by race/ethnicity: 2016

NOTE: Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09) Second Follow-Up: A First Look at Fall 2009 Ninth-Graders in 2016.

Twenty-two percent of fall 2009 ninth-graders who had enrolled in postsecondary education after high school had not attained a postsecondary credential but were no longer enrolled as of February 2016. When asked to select one or more reasons for leaving postsecondary education without earning a credential, 48 percent selected personal or family reasons, 40 percent picked financial reasons, 24 percent chose academic reasons, 22 percent chose work-related reasons, and 9 percent chose none of these.

The data collected in this 2016 follow-up collection allow researchers to examine an array of outcomes among fall 2009 ninth-graders, including delayed high school completion, postsecondary enrollment, early postsecondary persistence and attainment, labor market experiences, family formation, and family financial support. Analyses of these outcomes can capitalize on data already gathered about the students in fall 2009, in spring 2012 (when most were 11th-graders), and in summer and fall 2013 (when most had completed high school). HSLS:09 is also collecting students’ postsecondary financial aid records and postsecondary transcripts in 2017 and 2018. A First Look report and data from these documents are scheduled for release in 2019.

National Spending for Public Schools Increases for Second Consecutive Year in School Year 2014-15

By Stephen Q. Cornman and Lauren Musu-Gillette, NCES; Lei Zhou, Activate Research; and Malia Howell, U.S. Census Bureau

Nationally, spending on elementary and secondary education increased in school year 2014–15 (Fiscal Year 2015). This is the second consecutive year spending has increased, reversing a decline in spending for the prior four years after adjusting for inflation. These findings come from a recently released report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

The First Look report, Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: School Year 2014–15 (Fiscal Year 2015) is based on data from the National Public Education Finance Survey (NPEFS), a component of the Common Core of Data (CCD).

The amount spent per student for the day-to-day operation of public elementary and secondary schools rose to $11,454 in Fiscal Year (FY) 15.[1] Current expenditures per student increased by 2.8 percent between FY 14 and 15, following an increase of 1.2 percent from the prior year, after adjusting for inflation.[2]  Despite these recent increases, spending per student decreased each year from FY 09 to FY 13 and the FY 15 amount spent per student was lower than the amounts spent in FY 08, FY 09, and FY 10.

NOTE: Spending is reported in constant FY 15 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," fiscal years 2006 through 2015.

At the state level, spending on current expenditures per student ranged from a low of $6,751 in Utah to a high of $20,744 in New York. In addition to New York, current expenditures per student were at least 40 percent higher than the national average in the following states and jurisdictions:

  • District of Columbia ($20,610);
  • Alaska ($20,191);
  • Connecticut ($19,020);
  • New Jersey ($18,838);
  • Vermont ($18,769);
  • Massachusetts ($16,566);
  • and Wyoming ($16,047).

Current expenditures per student for public elementary and secondary education, by state: Fiscal year 2015 

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," fiscal year 2015.

Between FY 14 and FY 15, current expenditures per student increased by 3 percent or more in 12 states, and by 1 to less than 3 percent in 23 states. Increases in current expenditures per student from FY 14 to FY 15 were highest in Alaska (8.6 percent), California (7.3 percent), Texas (4.8 percent), Illinois (4.7 percent), and Maine (4.6 percent).

NOTE: Spending is reported in constant FY 15 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," fiscal years 2013 through 2015. 

The recently released report also presents national and state data on public school funding by source.[3] Total funding increased by 3.3 percent (from $628.2 to $648.6 billion) from FY 14 to FY 15, which primarily reflected funding increases at the local and state levels. Local funding increased by 3.3 percent (from $282.5 to $292.0 billion), state funding increased by 3.7 percent (from $290.7 to $301.6 billion), and federal funding remained about level with an increase of 0.2 percent (from $54.9 to $55.0 billion).

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," fiscal years 2006 through 2015. 

The percentage of total funding from federal sources accounted for approximately 9 percent of total funding in both FY 06 and FY 15; however, there were notable fluctuations during this period. The federal percentage increased from 8.2 percent of funding in FY 08 to 12.5 percent of funding in FY 11. In part, this increase reflects the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). As the funds from the program were spent, the federal percentage decreased from 10.2 percent of total funding in FY 12 to 8.5 percent in FY 15.

Local sources accounted for 45.0 percent of total funding in FY 15, and have been relatively stable over the past 10 years. The percentage of total funding from state sources decreased from a high of 48.3 percent in FY 08 to 43.4 percent in FY 10, and has since increased to 46.5 percent in FY 15.

[1] Spending refers to current expenditures. Current expenditures are comprised 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] In order to compare spending from one year to the next, expenditures are converted to constant dollars, which adjusts figures for inflation.

[3] Funding refers to revenues. Revenues are comprised of all funds received from external sources, net of refunds, and correcting transactions. Noncash transactions, such as receipt of services, commodities, or other receipts in kind are excluded, as are funds received from the issuance of debt, liquidation of investments, and nonroutine sale of property.