The emergence of the coronavirus pandemic 2 years ago shifted not only how students received educational services around the world but also how the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) carried out its mission, which is to collect, analyze, and report statistics on the condition of education in the United States.
NCES has conducted several surveys to measure educational enrollment, experiences, and outcomes as part of existing data collections and created new, innovative, and timely data initiatives. NCES is currently fielding more than 15 projects with information related to the pandemic. Since early 2020, NCES has collected information about educational experiences of students from elementary through postsecondary institutions. A few of the data collections will extend beyond 2022, providing rich data resources that will document changes in the educational landscape throughout the lifecycle of the pandemic.
NCES Coronavirus Pandemic Data Collection Coverage
In order to respond to the call for information about how students learned during widespread school disruptions, NCES modified existing and created new data collection avenues to receive and report vital information in unprecedented ways. Below are summaries of some of the data products available.
- The NAEP Monthly School Survey provided data during the beginning of 2021 on instructional modes offered from schools that served fourth- and eighth-graders. With participants from schools that were part of the NAEP 2022 assessments, this survey was the program’s first-ever monthly data collection and dissemination activity. It answered questions about what learning opportunities schools offered to students across states and how student enrollment changed each month overall and by race/ethnicity.
- NCES created the School Pulse Panel in 2021 to provide reliable data on school reopening efforts in public elementary, middle, and high schools nationally. NCES released 2021 summer and early fall results in December and has provided monthly updates since February 2022. The latest results show that the pandemic increased the teacher and staff vacancies in nearly a quarter of participating public schools.
- Through our existing administrative data collections, NCES has released enrollment estimates for fall 2020 at the public elementary and secondary levels as well as at the postsecondary level. These data reveal a drop in enrollment compared with 2019—prior to the pandemic.
- In February 2022, NCES released a report titled Impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic on Public and Private Elementary and Secondary Education in the United States (Preliminary Data): Results from the 2020–21 National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS). This report provides data on changes to instruction, support, and resources in public and private elementary and secondary schools during the pandemic.
- In June 2021, NCES released a report titled 2019–20 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:20): First Look at the Impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic on Undergraduate Student Enrollment, Housing, and Finances (Preliminary Data). This report focuses on how the pandemic affected postsecondary student experiences.
- To support parents, educators, and researchers, NCES created a Coronavirus Pandemic Information and Resource page. This page contains common questions related to the pandemic and its impact on education.
Looking ahead, NCES will provide NAEP data on how student performance has changed in various subjects since the coronavirus pandemic began. NCES will also collect and report information about learning contexts, which are critical for understanding educational outcomes. NCES will also develop a new system to share pandemic-related data collected across the center.
All of these resources are currently available or will be available on the NCES website.
By Ebony Walton and Josh DeLaRosa, NCES