Skip Navigation
Digest of Education Statistics: 2008
Digest of Education Statistics: 2008

NCES 2009-020
March 2009


The 2008 edition of the Digest of Education Statistics is the 44th in a series of publications initiated in 1962. The Digest has been issued annually except for combined editions for the years 1977–78, 1983–84, and 1985–86. Its primary purpose is to provide a compilation of statistical information covering the broad field of American education from prekindergarten through graduate school. The Digest includes a selection of data from many sources, both government and private, and draws especially on the results of surveys and activities carried out by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). To qualify for inclusion in the Digest, material must be nationwide in scope and of current interest and value. The publication contains information on a variety of subjects in the field of education statistics, including the number of schools and colleges, teachers, enrollments, and graduates, in addition to educational attainment, finances, federal funds for education, libraries, and international comparisons. Supplemental information on population trends, attitudes on education, education characteristics of the labor force, government finances, and economic trends provides background for evaluating education data. Although the Digest contains important information on federal education funding, more detailed information on federal activities is available from federal education program offices.

The Digest contains seven chapters: All Levels of Education, Elementary and Secondary Education, Postsecondary Education, Federal Programs for Education and Related Activities, Outcomes of Education, International Comparisons of Education, and Libraries and Educational Technology. Preceding these chapters is an Introduction that provides a brief overview of current trends in American education, which supplements the tabular materials in chapters 1 through 7. The Digest concludes with three appendixes. The first appendix, Guide to Sources, provides a brief synopsis of the surveys used to generate the Digest tables; the second, Definitions, is included to help readers understand terms used in the Digest; and the third, Index of Table Numbers, allows readers to quickly locate tables on specific topics.

In addition to updating many of the statistics that have appeared in previous years, this edition contains new material, including

  • for free or reduced-price lunch (table 42);
  • percentage distribution of children at about 2 and 4 years of age, by type of child care arrangement and selected child and family characteristics (table 46);
  • percentage distribution of quality ratings of child care arrangements of children at about 4 years of age, by type of arrangement and selected child and family characteristics (table 47);
  • children's specific language, literacy, mathematics, color knowledge, and fine motor skills at about 4 years of age, by age of child and selected characteristics (table 114);
  • average National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading scale scores of 4th-, 8th-, and 12th-graders, by selected student and school characteristics (table 123);
  • average NAEP writing scale score and percentage of students attaining NAEP writing achievement levels, by selected student characteristics and grade level (table 125);
  • average NAEP mathematics scale scores of 4th-, 8th-, and 12th-graders, by selected student and school characteristics (table 136);
  • average NAEP mathematics scale score of 8th-graders and percentage reporting various attitudes toward mathematics work, by frequency of attitude and selected student and school characteristics (table 137);
  • average NAEP science scale score of 12th-graders and percentage reporting various attitudes toward science, by selected student and school characteristics (table 140);
  • percentage of elementary and secondary school students who do homework outside of school, whose parents check that homework is done, and whose parents help with homework, by frequency and selected student and school characteristics (table 156);
  • total full-year enrollment in degree-granting institutions, by control and type of institution and state or jurisdiction (table 222);
  • degrees in Arabic, Chinese, Korean, and Russian conferred by degree-granting institutions, by level of degree (table 309);
  • full-time, first-time degree/certificate seeking undergraduate students enrolled in degree-granting institutions, by participation and average amount awarded in financial aid programs, and type and control of institution (table 336); and
  • percentage of 18- to 25-year-olds reporting substance abuse during the past 30 days and the past year, by drug used and selected characteristics (table 396).

Updates to tables from the next Digest of Education Statistics will appear on the NCES website prior to printing the full edition. The Digest can be accessed from

Val Plisko
Associate Commissioner
Early Childhood, International, and Crosscutting Studies Division