The Mini-Digest of Education Statistics has been arranged in the order as it appears in published form. It is a concise reference of materials found in other NCES publications, including The Digest of Education Statistics 1995, The Condition of Education 1995, and Youth Indicators.
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Welcome to the third edition of The Mini-Digest of Education Statistics. The primary purpose of this publication is to provide a pocket-sized compilation of statistical information covering the broad field of American education from kindergarten through graduate school. The statistical highlights provide a quantitative description of the current American education scene.
The Mini-Digest is designed as an easy reference for materials found in much greater detail in The Digest of Education Statistics, The Condition of Education, and Youth Indicators.
These volumes include selections of data from many sources, both government and private, especially drawing on results of surveys and activities carried out by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). They include information on the number of schools and colleges, teachers, enrollments, and graduates, in addition to educational outcomes, finances, and federal funds for education. Unless otherwise stated, all data are extracted from the Digest of Education Statistics.
Education was the primary occupation of about 73 million people in the United States in the fall of 1995. Included in this total were about 65.1 million students enrolled in American schools and colleges. About 3.8 million people were employed as elementary and secondary school teachers and as college faculty. Other professional, administrative, and support staff of educational institutions numbered 4.3 million. In a nation with a population of about 261 million, more than 1 out of every 4 persons participated in formal education.
Clearly, from the large number of participants, the 12 to 13 years that people spend in school, and the hundreds of billions of dollars expended by educational institutions, it is evident that the American people have a high regard for education.
Figure 1 shows the structure of education in the United States: the three levels of education--elementary, secondary, and postsecondary--and the approximate age range of persons at each level. Pupils ordinarily spend from 6 to 8 years in the elementary grades, preceded by 1 to 3 years in nursery school and kindergarten. The elementary school program is followed by a 4- to 6-year secondary school program. The elementary program is frequently followed by a middle school or junior high school program, which generally lasts 2 or 3 years. Students then may finish their compulsory schooling at the secondary or high school level, which may last from 3 to 6 years depending on the structure within their school district. Pupils normally complete the entire program through grade 12 by age 17, 18, or 19.
High school graduates who decide to continue their education may enter a technical or vocational institution, a 2-year college, or a 4-year college or university. A 2-year college normally offers the first 2 years of a standard 4-year college curriculum and a selection of terminal vocational programs. Academic courses completed at a 2-year college are usually transferable for credit at a 4-year college or university. A technical or vocational institution offers postsecondary technical training leading to a specific career. Other types of educational opportunities for adults are offered by community organizations, libraries, churches, and businesses.
An associate degree requires the equivalent of at least 2 years of full-time college-level work, and a bachelor's degree normally can be earned in 4 years. At least 1 year beyond the bachelor's is necessary for a master's degree, while a doctor's degree usually requires a minimum of 3 or 4 years beyond the bachelor's.
Professional schools differ widely in admissions requirements and in program length. Medical students, for example, generally complete a 4-year program of premedical studies at a college or university before they can enter the 4-year program at a medical school. Law programs normally require 3 years of coursework beyond the bachelor's degree level.
Figure 1--The Structure of American Education Note: After viewing the figure, click your Web browser's Back button to return to this page.