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National Teacher
and Principal Survey
U.S. Department of Education NCES 2019-140 October 2019
Characteristics of Public and Private Elementary and Secondary Schools in the United States

The 2017–18 National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS) is a state and nationally representative sample survey of public and private K–12 schools, principals, and teachers in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The following selected findings are from the Public and Private School Data Files of the 2017–18 NTPS:

  • Free and reduced-price school lunch. During the 2017–18 school year, 78 percent of all schools reported that they participated in the federal free or reduced-price lunch program, with 96 percent of public schools reporting participation and 19 percent of private schools reporting participation (see table).
  • Students with disabilities. About 99 percent of public schools reported having at least one student with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) because of special needs. Public schools reported that 13 percent of K–12 students had an IEP. Among private schools, 59 percent reported having at least one student with a formally identified disability. Private schools reported that 8 percent of K–12 students had a formally identified disability (see table).
  • Online courses. Nationwide, about 21 percent of public schools and 13 percent of private schools offered any courses entirely online. Among public schools, a higher percentage of charter schools (30 percent) offered any courses entirely online, compared to traditional public schools (20 percent) (see table).
  • Supplemental instruction. Overall, 57 percent of public schools and 37 percent of private school offered instruction beyond the normal school day for students who need academic assistance. Additionally, 39 percent of public schools and 31 percent of private schools offered instruction beyond the normal school day for students who seek academic advancement or enrichment. Among public schools, more charter schools offered instruction beyond the normal school day for students who sought assistance (65 percent) or enrichment (50 percent), compared to traditional public schools (56 percent and 38 percent, respectively) (see table).
  • School start time. Among public schools, primary schools (8:15 a.m.) had a later average start time than middle (8:05 a.m.), combined (8:05 a.m.), and high (8:03 a.m.) schools. A higher percentage of public high schools (10 percent) had start times before 7:30 a.m. when compared to middle (6 percent), combined (3 percent), and primary (2 percent) schools. Private schools had an average start time of 8:12 a.m., and 1 percent of private schools reported start times before 7:30 a.m. (see table).
  • School type. Among public schools in the United States, about 88 percent reported they were regular schools, 6 percent reported they were alternative or other types of schools,1 4 percent reported they were special program emphasis,2 1 percent reported they were special education,3 and 1 percent reported they were career/technical/vocational schools.4 Among private schools about 79 percent reported they were regular schools, 7 percent reported they were special education, 6 percent reported they were Montessori, 4 percent reported they were special program emphasis, 3 percent reported they were early childhood program or day care centers,5 and 1 percent reported they were alternative or other types of schools (see table).
  • Instructional time. Nationally, schools with a third grade reported a weekly average of 500 minutes of instruction in English, reading, and language arts; 350 minutes of instruction in arithmetic or mathematics; 170 minutes of instruction in science; and 170 minutes of instruction in social studies or history. Public schools with a third grade reported a weekly average of 540 minutes of instruction per week in English, reading, and language arts; 370 minutes in arithmetic or mathematics; 170 minutes in science; and 160 minutes in social studies or history. Private schools with a third grade reported a weekly average of 400 minutes per week in English, reading, and language arts; 280 minutes in arithmetic or mathematics; 170 minutes in science; and 170 minutes in social studies or history (see table).
  • Learning opportunities. Among public schools with students enrolled in any grades 9–12, 82 percent offered dual or concurrent enrollment,6 37 percent offered a specialized career academy,7 74 percent offered career and technical education courses,8> 56 percent offered internships outside of school,9 and 39 percent had block scheduling.10 A higher percentage of traditional public schools offered dual or concurrent enrollment (83 percent), a specialized career academy (39 percent), career and technical education courses 77 percent), and internships outside of school (58 percent) when compared to charter schools (77 percent, 22 percent, 53 percent, and 44 percent, respectively). Among private schools with any of grades 9–12, 56 percent offered dual or concurrent enrollment, 6 percent offered a specialized career academy, 23 percent offered career and technical education courses, 20 percent offered internships outside of school, and 30 percent had block scheduling (see table).

1 Alternative/other schools offer a curriculum designed to provide alternative or nontraditional education and do not specifically fall into the categories of regular, special program emphasis, special education, or vocational school.
2 Special program emphasis schools include schools such as science or math schools, performing arts schools, talented or gifted schools, foreign language immersion schools, etc.
3 Special education schools primarily serve students with disabilities
4 Career/technical/vocational schools primarily serve students being trained for occupations.
5 Early childhood program or day care centers include schools with transitional first grade as the highest grade offered.
6 Dual or concurrent enrollment offers both high school and college credit.
7 A specialized career academy is a program that offers a set of specialized curriculum organized around a specific career area, such as automotive, business, carpentry, communications, construction, cosmetology, culinary arts, education, electricity, engineering, health, hospitality, IT, manufacturing, plumbing, protective and legal services, repair, transportation, etc.
8 These courses are offered at the school but not as part of a specialized career academy.
9 This includes work-based learning or internship outside of school, in which students earn course credits for supervised learning activities that occur in paid or unpaid workplace assignments.
10 Block scheduling is when schools utilize extended class periods scheduled to create blocks of instruction time.