This chapter contains a variety of statistics on public and private elementary and secondary education. Data are presented for enrollments, teachers and other school staff, schools, dropouts, achievement, school violence, and revenues and expenditures. These data are derived from surveys, censuses, and administrative data collections conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and other public and private organizations. The information ranges from counts of students and schools to state graduation requirements.
Public elementary and secondary school enrollment rose from 48.5 million in 2003 to 49.3 million in 2008 (an increase of 1 percent), but enrollment at the elementary and secondary levels increased at different rates (table 39 and figure 6). Public elementary enrollment (prekindergarten through grade 8) was 0.2 percent higher in 2008 (34.3 million) than in 2003 (34.2 million), while public secondary enrollment was 4 percent higher in 2008 (15.0 million) than in 2003 (14.3 million). Enrollments in private elementary and secondary schools decreased by an estimated 2 percent between 2003 and 2008, from 6.1 million to 6.0 million (table 3).
In 2009, about 63 percent of 3- to 5-year-olds were enrolled in preprimary education (nursery school and kindergarten), similar to the proportion in 2000 (table 52 and figure 7). However, the percentage of children in full-day programs increased from 2000 to 2009. In 2009, about 61 percent of the children enrolled in preprimary education attended a full-day preprimary program, compared with 53 percent in 2000.
A higher percentage of 4-year-old children (57 percent) were cared for primarily in center-based programs during the day in 2005–06 than were cared for in home-based settings by their parents (20 percent), in home-based settings by relatives (13 percent), or in home-based settings by nonrelatives (8 percent) (table 55). There were differences in the average quality of care children received in these settings. A higher percentage of children in Head Start and other center-based programs (35 percent) received high-quality care than those in home-based relative and nonrelative care (9 percent), according to the ratings of trained observers (table 56).
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), enacted in 1975, mandates that children and youth ages 3–21 with disabilities be provided a free and appropriate public school education. The percentage of total public school enrollment that represents children served by federally supported special education programs increased from 8.3 percent to 13.2 percent between 1976–77 and 2008–09 (table 45). Much of this overall increase can be attributed to a rise in the percentage of students identified as having specific learning disabilities from 1976–77 (1.8 percent) to 1990–91 (5.2 percent). The overall percentage of students being served in programs for those with disabilities decreased between 2003–04 (13.7 percent) and 2008–09 (13.2 percent). However, there were different patterns of change in the percentages served with some specific conditions between 2003–04 and 2008–09. The percentage of children identified as having other health impairments (limited strength, vitality, or alertness due to chronic or acute health problems such as a heart condition, tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, nephritis, asthma, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, epilepsy, lead poisoning, leukemia, or diabetes) rose from 1.0 to 1.3 percent of total public school enrollment; the percentage with autism rose from 0.3 to 0.7 percent; and the percentage with developmental delays rose from 0.6 to 0.7 percent. The percentage of children with specific learning disabilities declined from 5.8 percent to 5.0 percent of total public school enrollment during this period. In fall 2008, some 95 percent of 6- to 21-year-old students with disabilities were served in regular schools; 3 percent were served in a separate school for students with disabilities; 1 percent were placed in regular private schools by their parents; and less than 1 percent each were served in one of the following environments: in a separate residential facility, homebound or in a hospital, or in a correctional facility (table 46).
Teachers and Other School Staff
During the 1970s and early 1980s, public school enrollment decreased, while the number of teachers generally increased. For public schools, the number of pupils per teacher—that is, the pupil/teacher ratio1 —declined from 22.3 in 1970 to 17.9 in 1985 (table 68 and figure 6). After 1985, the public school pupil/teacher ratio continued to decline, reaching 17.2 in 1989. After a period of relative stability during the late 1980s through the mid-1990s, the ratio declined from 17.3 in 1995 to 16.0 in 2000. Decreases have continued since then, and the public school pupil/teacher ratio was 15.3 in 2008. By comparison, the pupil/teacher ratio for private schools was estimated at 13.1 in 2008. The average class size in 2007–08 was 20.0 pupils for public elementary schools and 23.4 pupils for public secondary schools (table 71).
In 2007–08, some 76 percent of public school teachers were female, 44 percent were under age 40, and 52 percent had a master’s or higher degree (table 72). Compared with public school teachers, a lower percentage of private school teachers were female (74 percent), were under age 40 (39 percent), and had a master’s or higher degree (38 percent).
Public school principals tend to be older and have more advanced credentials than public school teachers. In 2007–08, some 19 percent of public school principals were under age 40, and 99 percent of public school principals had a master’s or higher degree (table 89). A lower percentage of principals than of teachers were female: about 50 percent of public school principals were female, compared with 76 percent of teachers.
From 1969–70 to 1980, there was an 8 percent increase in the number of public school teachers, compared with a 48 percent increase in the number of all other public school staff 2 (table B and table 84). Consequently, the percentage of staff who were teachers declined from 60 percent in 1969–70 to 52 percent in 1980. From 1980 to 2008, the number of teachers and the number of all other staff grew at more similar rates (47 and 56 percent, respectively) than they did in the 1970s. As a result, the proportion of teachers among total staff was 1 percentage point lower in 2008 than in 1980, in contrast to the decrease of 8 percentage points during the 1970s. Two staff categories increased more than 100 percent between 1980 and 2008—instructional aides, which rose 125 percent, and instructional coordinators, which rose 257 percent. Taken together, the percentage of staff with some instructional responsibilities (teachers and instructional aides) increased from 60 to 63 percent between 1980 and 2008. In 2008, there were 8 pupils per staff member (total staff) at public schools, compared with 10 pupils per staff member in 1980. At private schools in 2007, by comparison, the number of pupils per staff member was 7 (table 64).
|Selected staff category||1969–70||1980||2008|
During most of the last century, the trend to consolidate small schools brought declines in the total number of public schools in the United States. In 1929–30, there were approximately 248,000 public schools, compared with about 99,000 in 2008–09 (table 90). But this number has increased over the past 10 years: between 1998–99 and 2008–09, there was an increase of approximately 7,800 schools. Since the early 1970s, public school systems have been shifting away from junior high schools (schools consisting of either grades 7 and 8 or grades 7 to 9) and toward middle schools (a subset of elementary schools beginning with grade 4, 5, or 6 and ending with grade 6, 7, or 8) (table 97). Although the number of all elementary schools (schools beginning with grade 6 or below and having no grade higher than 8) was 1 percent lower in 1998–99 than in 1970–71 (63,500 vs. 64,000), the number of middle schools was 439 percent higher in 1998–99 than in 1970–71 (11,200 vs. 2,100). During the same period, the number of junior high schools declined by 53 percent (from 7,800 in 1970–71 to 3,600 in 1998–99). Between 1998–99 and 2008–09, the number of all elementary schools rose by 6 percent to 67,100, while the subset of middle schools rose by 17 percent to 13,100. During the same period, the number of junior high schools declined by 16 percent to 3,000.
The average number of students in public elementary schools declined from 478 students in 1998–99 to 470 students in 2008–09 (table 99). The average enrollment size of public secondary schools increased from 707 students in 1998–99 to 722 in 2003–04, but then decreased to an average of 704 students in 2008–09. The average size of regular public secondary schools, which exclude alternative, special education, and vocational education schools, rose from 786 students to 807 between 1998–99 and 2008–09.
High School Graduates and Dropouts
About 3,252,000 high school students are expected to graduate during the 2010–11 school year (table 110), including 2,937,000 public school graduates and 315,000 private school graduates. High school graduates include only recipients of diplomas, not recipients of equivalency credentials. The 2010–11 projection of high school graduates is lower than the record-high projection of 3,319,000 graduates for 2008–09, but exceeds the high point during the baby boom era in 1975–76, when 3,142,000 students earned diplomas. In 2007–08, an estimated 74.7 percent of public high school students graduated on time—that is, received a diploma 4 years after beginning their freshman year (table 112).
The number of General Educational Development (GED) credentials issued by the states to GED test passers rose from 330,000 in 1977 to 487,000 in 2000 (table 114). A record number of 648,000 GED credentials were issued in 2001. In 2002, there were revisions to the GED test and to the data reporting procedures. In 2001, test takers were required to successfully complete all five components of the GED or else begin the five-part series again with the new test that was introduced in 2002. Prior to 2002, reporting was based on summary data from the states on the number of GED credentials issued. As of 2002, reporting has been based on individual GED candidate- and test-level records collected by the GED Testing Service. In 2009, some 448,000 passed the GED tests, up from 330,000 in 2002, the first year of the new test series.3
The percentage of dropouts among 16- to 24-year-olds has shown some decreases over the past 20 years. This percentage, known as the status dropout rate, includes all people in the 16- to 24-year-old age group who are not enrolled in school and who have not completed a high school program, regardless of when they left school. (People who left school but went on to receive a GED credential are not treated as dropouts.) Between 1989 and 2009, the status dropout rate declined from 12.6 to 8.1 percent (table 115). Although the status dropout rate declined for both Blacks and Hispanics during this period, their rates (9.3 and 17.6 percent, respectively) remained higher than the rate for Whites (5.2 percent) in 2009. This measure is based on the civilian noninstitutionalized population, which excludes people in prisons, people in the military, and other people not living in households.
Most of the student performance data in the Digest are drawn from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The NAEP assessments have been conducted using three basic designs: the national main NAEP, state NAEP, and long-term trend NAEP. The main NAEP reports current information for the nation and specific geographic regions of the country. The assessment program includes students drawn from both public and nonpublic schools and reports results for student achievement at grades 4, 8, and 12. The main NAEP assessments follow the frameworks developed by the National Assessment Governing Board and use the latest advances in assessment methodology. Because the assessment items reflect curricula associated with specific grade levels, the main NAEP uses samples of students at those grade levels.
Since 1990, NAEP assessments have also been conducted at the state level. Each participating state receives assessment results that report on the performance of students in that state. In its content, the state assessment is identical to the assessment conducted nationally. From 1990 through 2001, the national sample was a subset of the combined sample of students assessed in each participating state along with an additional sample from the states that did not participate in the state assessment. For mathematics and reading assessments since 2002, a combined sample of public schools has been selected for both 4th- and 8th-grade state and national NAEP.
NAEP long-term trend assessments are designed to give information on the changes in the basic achievement level of America’s youth since the early 1970s. They are administered nationally and report student performance in reading and mathematics at ages 9, 13, and 17. Measuring long-term trends of student achievement requires the precise replication of past procedures. For example, students of specific ages are sampled in order to maintain consistency with the original sample design. Similarly, the long-term trend instrument does not evolve based on changes in curricula or in educational practices. The differences in procedures between the main NAEP and the long-term trend NAEP mean that their results cannot be compared directly.
Reported on a scale of 0 to 500, NAEP long-term trend results in reading are available for 12 assessment years going back to the first in 1971. The average reading score for 9-year-olds was higher in 2008 than in all previous assessment years, increasing 4 points since 2004 and 12 points in comparison to 1971 (table 124). While the average score for 13-year-olds in 2008 was higher than in both 2004 and 1971, it was not significantly different from the scores in some assessment years in between. The average reading score for 17-year-olds was higher in 2008 than in 2004 but was not significantly different from the score in 1971.
White, Black, and Hispanic 9-, 13-, and 17-year-olds all had higher average reading scores in 2008 than they did in the first assessment year (which is 1975 for Hispanic students because separate data for Hispanics were not collected in 1971). At age 9, White, Black, and Hispanic students scored higher in 2008, on average, than in any previous assessment year. In comparison to 2004, average reading scores were higher in 2008 for White students at all three ages, for Black students at ages 9 and 13, and for Hispanic students at age 9. Reading results for 2008 continued to show gaps in scores between White and Black students (ranging from 21 to 29 points, depending on age) and between White and Hispanic students (ranging from 21 to 26 points). From 2004 to 2008, no significant changes were seen in these reading score gaps. However, the White-Black reading gap was smaller in 2008 than in 1971 at all three ages, and the White-Hispanic reading gap narrowed at ages 9 and 17 in comparison to 1975.
In 2008, female students continued to have higher average reading scores than male students at all three ages. The gap between male and female 9-year-olds was 7 points in 2008; this was not significantly different from the gap in 2004 but was narrower than the gap in 1971. The 8-point gender gap for 13-year-olds in 2008 was not significantly different from the gaps in either 2004 or 1971. At age 17, the 11-point gap between males and females in 2008 was not significantly different from the gaps in any of the previous assessment years.
The main NAEP assessment data were first collected in 1992 and are reported on a scale of 0 to 500. From 2007 to 2009, there were no measurable changes in average reading scores for 4th-grade males and females or for 4th-grade students from any of the five racial/ethnic groups (table 125). From 1992 to 2009, male 4th-graders’ average reading scores increased from 213 to 218 and female 4th-graders’ scores increased from 221 to 224 (table 126). At grade 4, the average reading scores in 2009 for White, Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native students were not measurably different from their scores in 2007 (table 125). The 2009 reading scores for White, Black, and Hispanic students did, however, remain higher than scores from assessment years prior to 2007. The 2009 average NAEP reading scale score for 8th-graders was 1 point higher than the 2007 score and 4 points higher than the 1992 score, but the 2009 score was not always measurably different from the scores on the assessments given between 1994 and 2005. For 12th-graders, the 2009 average reading score was 4 points lower than the score in 1992 but 2 points higher than the score in 2005 (12th-graders were not assessed in 2007).
The 2009 main NAEP reading assessment of states found that the average reading proficiency of public school 4th- and 8th-graders varied across participating jurisdictions (the 50 states, the Department of Defense overseas and domestic schools, and the District of Columbia). For 4th-graders in public schools, the U.S. average score was 220, with average scores in participating jurisdictions ranging from 202 in the District of Columbia to 234 in Massachusetts (table 129). For 8th-graders in public schools, the U.S. average score was 262, with average scores in participating jurisdictions ranging from 242 in the District of Columbia to 274 in Massachusetts (table 130).
NAEP long-term trend mathematics results, reported on a scale of 0 to 500, are available for 11 assessment years, going back to the first in 1973. Average mathematics scores for 9- and 13-year-olds were higher in 2008 than in all previous assessment years (table 140). The average score for 9-year-olds in 2008 was 4 points higher than in 2004 and 24 points higher than in 1973. For 13-year-olds, the average score in 2008 was 3 points higher than in 2004 (based on unrounded scores) and 15 points higher than in 1973. In contrast, the average score for 17-year-olds in 2008 was not significantly different from the scores in 2004 and 1973.
White, Black, and Hispanic 9-, 13-, and 17-year-olds all had higher average mathematics scores in 2008 than in 1973. In comparison to 2004, average mathematics scores were higher in 2008 for White students at age 9. From 2004 to 2008, there were no significant changes in scores for 9-, 13-, and 17-year-old Black and Hispanic students or for 13- and 17-year-old White students. Mathematics results for 2008 continued to show score gaps between White and Hispanic students (ranging from 16 to 23 points, depending on age) and between White and Black students (ranging from 26 to 28 points). Across all three age groups, neither the White-Black gap nor the White-Hispanic gap in mathematics scores changed significantly from 2004 to 2008, but both were smaller in 2008 than in 1973.
While there was no significant difference between the average mathematics scores of male and female 9-year-olds in 2008, male students did score higher than female students at ages 13 and 17. At age 13, the 4-point gap between males and females in 2008 was not significantly different when compared to the gap in 2004, but it was larger than the gap in 1973. At age 17, the 5-point gender score gap in 2008 was not significantly different from the gaps in previous assessment years.
On the main NAEP mathematics assessment, gains in average scores seen in earlier years continued from 2007 to 2009 at grade 8 but not at grade 4. At grade 8, the average NAEP mathematics score (reported on a scale of 0 to 500) increased 2 points from 2007 to 2009 and was higher in 2009 than in any previous assessment year (table 146). At grade 4, the average score in 2009 was unchanged from the score in 2007 but still higher than the scores in the six assessment years from 1990 to 2005. From 2007 to 2009, no significant score changes occurred at grade 4 for males or females or for any of the racial/ethnic groups. At grade 8, average scores increased from 2007 to 2009 for both male and female students as well as for White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander students. For American Indian/Alaska Native 8th-graders, no measurable differences were detected in average scores over the assessment years. Because of major changes to the grade 12 mathematics assessment, results from 2005 and 2009 cannot be compared with results from earlier assessment years. For 12th-graders, the average mathematics score (reported on a scale of 0 to 300) was 3 points higher in 2009 than in 2005. Average scores increased from 2005 to 2009 for both male and female 12th-graders as well as for 12th-graders from all the racial/ethnic groups.
The 2009 main NAEP assessment of states found that the average mathematics proficiency of public school 4th- and 8th-graders varied across participating jurisdictions (the 50 states, the Department of Defense overseas and domestic schools, and the District of Columbia). For 4th-graders in public schools, the U.S. average score was 239, with average scores in participating jurisdictions ranging from 219 in the District of Columbia to 251 in New Hampshire and 252 in Massachusetts (table 143). For 8th-graders in public schools, the U.S. average score was 282, with average scores in participating jurisdictions ranging from 254 in the District of Columbia to 299 in Massachusetts (table 144).
NAEP has assessed the science abilities of students in grades 4, 8, and 12 since 1996, using a separate scale of 0 to 300 for each grade. From 1996 to 2005, the national average 4th-grade science score increased from 147 to 151, there was no measurable change in the 8th-grade score, and the 12th-grade score decreased from 150 to 147 (table 148). Certain subgroups outperformed others in science in 2005. For example, males outperformed females at all three grades. White students scored higher, on average, than Black and Hispanic students at all three grades in 2005. At 4th grade, average scores were higher for White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander students in 2005 than in 1996. At 8th grade, the average score for Black students was higher in 2005 than in 1996, but no measurable increases occurred for other racial/ethnic groups from 1996 to 2005. At 12th grade, there were no measurable changes in average scores for any racial/ethnic group when comparing results from 2005 with those from 1996. Asian/Pacific Islander 4th-graders’ results from 2000 are not included because reporting standards were not met.
Skills of Young Children
In addition to student performance data available through NAEP, the Digest presents data from other surveys to provide additional perspectives on student achievement. Differences among demographic groups in the acquisition of cognitive skills have been demonstrated at relatively early ages in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey, Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) (tables 119, 120, and 121).
In 2003–04, about 64 percent of 2-year-olds demonstrated proficiency in expressive vocabulary, which measured toddlers’ ability to communicate using gestures, words, and sentences (table 119). The percentage of 2-year-olds demonstrating expressive vocabulary was higher for females (69 percent) than for males (59 percent). Also, a higher percentage of White (71 percent) and Asian (62 percent) 2-year-olds demonstrated expressive vocabulary than of Black, Hispanic, or American Indian/Alaska Native 2-year-olds (56, 54, and 50 percent, respectively). The percentage of 2-year-olds from families with high socioeconomic status (SES) who demonstrated expressive vocabulary (75 percent) was higher than the percentage of children from low-SES families who did so (52 percent).
Patterns of differences were also observed by race/ethnicity and SES for children at about 4 years of age (48 to 57 months old) and at kindergarten entry. Average early reading scores were higher for White (27.4) and Asian (30.5) 48- to 57-month-old children than for Black (22.9), Hispanic (21.2), and American Indian/Alaska Native (20.1) children (table 120). Also, high-SES children (32.7) had higher average early reading scores than low-SES children (19.3) at this age. These same patterns were observed among 48- to 57-month-old children with respect to average mathematics scores. White (31.6) and Asian (34.7) 48- to 57-month-old children had higher mathematics scores than Black (26.9), Hispanic (26.2), and American Indian/Alaska Native children (23.2). High-SES 48- to 57-month-old children (36.2) had higher average mathematics scores than low-SES children (23.6). Similarly, among 5- and 6-year-olds entering kindergarten, average mathematics scores were higher for high-SES children (49.5) than for low-SES children (37.7) (table 121). White (45.5) and Asian (48.2) 5- and 6-year-olds entering kindergarten had higher mathematics scores than Black (39.8), Hispanic (39.6), and American Indian/Alaska Native (36.2) children. Similar patterns were observed for early reading skills among children entering kindergarten. White (45.1) and Asian (51.4) children had higher early reading scores at kindergarten entry than Black (40.2), Hispanic (38.4), and American Indian/Alaska Native (36.2) children. High-SES children (51.2) had higher average early reading scores than low-SES children (35.0).
SAT Scores of College-Bound Seniors
The SAT (formerly known as the Scholastic Assessment Test and the Scholastic Aptitude Test) is not designed as an indicator of student achievement, but rather as an aid for predicting how well students will do in college. Between 1998–99 and 2004–05, the mathematics SAT average score increased by 9 points, but it declined by 4 points between 2004–05 and 2009–10 (table 152). The critical reading average score in 2009–10 (501) was 4 points lower than in 1998–99.
Coursetaking in High School
The average number of science and mathematics courses completed by public high school graduates increased between 1982 and 2005. The average number of mathematics courses (Carnegie units) completed in high school rose from 2.6 in 1982 to 3.7 in 2005, and the number of science courses rose from 2.2 to 3.3 (table 157). The average number of courses in career/technical areas completed by all high school graduates was lower in 2005 (4.0 units) than in 1982 (4.6 units). As a result of the increased academic course load, the percentage of students completing the 1983 National Commission on Excellence recommendations for college-bound students (4 units of English, 3 units of social studies, 3 units of science, 3 units of mathematics, 2 units of foreign language, and .5 units of computer science) rose from 2 percent in 1982 to 36 percent in 2005 (table 161).
In 2007–08, about 85 percent of public schools had a criminal incident, which is defined as a serious violent crime or a less serious crime such as a fight without weapons, theft, or vandalism (table 168). The percentage of schools having a criminal incident in 2007–08 was about the same as the percentage in 1999–2000 (86 percent). In 2007–08, some 75 percent of schools reported one or more violent incidents, 47 percent of schools reported one or more thefts/larcenies, and 67 percent reported other types of incidents. Overall, there were 4 criminal incidents reported per 100 students.
Revenues and Expenditures
The state share of revenues for public elementary and secondary schools generally grew from the 1930s through the mid-1980s, while the local share declined during the same time period (table 180 and figure 9). However, this pattern changed in the late 1980s, when the local share began to increase at the same time the state share decreased. Between 1986–87 and 1993–94, the state share declined from 49.7 percent to 45.2 percent, while the local share rose from 43.9 percent to 47.8 percent. Between 1993–94 and 2000–01, the state share rose again to 49.7 percent, the highest share since 1986–87, but declined every school year thereafter until 2005–06, when the state share was 46.5 percent. Between 1995–96 and 2005–06, the federal share of revenues rose from 6.6 to 9.1 percent. The local share declined from 45.9 percent in 1995–96 to 42.8 in 2002–03 and then increased each year, reaching 44.4 percent in 2005–06. Between 2005–06 and 2007–08, these patterns shifted. The federal percentage declined from 9.1 to 8.2 percent and the local percentage declined from 44.4 to 43.5 percent. In contrast, the state percentage rose from 46.5 to 48.3 percent.
After adjustment for inflation, current expenditures per student in fall enrollment at public schools rose during the 1980s, remained stable during the first part of the 1990s, and rose again after 1992–93 (table 190 and figure 10). There was an increase of 37 percent from 1980–81 to 1990–91; a change of less than 1 percent from 1990–91 to 1994–95 (which resulted from small decreases at the beginning of this period, followed by small increases after 1992–93); and an increase of 32 percent from 1994–95 to 2007–08. In 2007–08, current expenditures per student in fall enrollment were $10,297 in unadjusted dollars. In 2007–08, some 55 percent of students in public schools were transported at public expense at a cost of $854 per pupil transported, also in unadjusted dollars (table 184).