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Stuart Kerachsky
Deputy Commissioner, National Center for Education Statistics

Briefing on The Condition of Education 2010
May 27, 2010

Good morning, it is my pleasure to brief you today on The Condition of Education 2010. Let's begin with some background about the report.

The Condition of Education is a congressionally mandated report produced by the National Center for Education Statistics that brings together new and recently released information from our statistical surveys. This annual report allows us to take a big-picture look at the condition of American education. Many of the findings we discuss focus on national or regional trends, although some of the indicators in the report feature state-level data as well. In addition, this year, we have added a special section that focuses on high-poverty schools in the United States. These are schools in which more than 75 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

This year's publication includes 49 indicators plus the special section, but over 100 indicators, including those from prior years, are available online. In the full report, the indicators are grouped into five general sections.

Today, I will highlight a selection of some of the core indicators from the first three sections. I will then briefly review findings concerning our high-poverty schools. It is important to focus attention on these schools as there is a wide and persistent achievement gap associated with school poverty.

Let's begin with the section on participation in education.

Finally, we look at undergraduate enrollment...

Let's turn now to learner outcomes, and look at how well U.S. students and the American education system perform. These outcomes reflect both achievement and earnings.

The first set of outcomes is based on the latest student assessment data in reading and mathematics from the National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAEP. NAEP is designed to assess educational progress nationally using a rigorous, common metric. The scores I will discuss are averages from the main NAEP assessments and they include both public and private school students. The main NAEP has been given in a variety of subjects since the early 1990s....

The trend in mathematics achievement is different...

Another outcome of education is the difference in earnings among those with various levels of education. These numbers are for young adults, ages 25 to 34, working full time throughout a full year. The amounts are expressed as the median earnings (meaning half the population earns more, and half earns less). It should be noted that 72 percent of all young adults with at least a bachelor's degree were working full time throughout the full year in 2008, while only 48 percent of those with less than a high school diploma were.

The next four indicators look at student effort and progress toward a high school diploma, college degree, or other credential. These measures are key indicators for describing the progress of students and schooling in the United States.

First, let's examine graduation rates...

The averaged freshman graduation rate¬ uses state data to estimate the percentage of the incoming high school freshman class that graduates 4 years later with a regular high school diploma.

The next indicator presents the high school status dropout rate, measured here as the percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds who, in a given year, are not enrolled in school and have not earned a high school credential such as a diploma or GED.

Next, we take a look at the rate at which students enroll in a 2-year or 4-year college in the fall immediately after completing high school, also known as the immediate college enrollment rate.

While more students are going directly from high school to college, their persistence in attaining a postsecondary credential is an important concern. The next indicator looks at the postsecondary graduation rates for a select group of the postsecondary population: full-time students who began seeking a bachelor's degree in 2001. Note that these rates reflect the percentage of students who receive a degree at the institution where they began and do not include students who transfer and then graduate from another institution.

Now that we have seen indicators of the overall condition of education in the United States, let's explore more closely one segment of our education system – high-poverty schools. This year we present a descriptive profile of high-poverty schools and their students, and compare them to low-poverty schools and their students. The poverty measure that is used is the percentage of a school's enrollment that is eligible for free or reduced-price lunch through the National School Lunch Program. High-poverty schools are those where between 76 and 100 percent of the students qualify for the program. Low-poverty schools, then, are those where between 0 and 25 percent of the students qualify.

In terms of the characteristics of the students that attend these schools...

High-poverty public schools also have more students who are learning English...

Turning to the outcomes in high-poverty schools, there are persistent achievement gaps between students at high-poverty schools and those at low-poverty schools. For example, we can look at the 2009 NAEP results I showed earlier broken out by the percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch. Here the results include public and private school data.

Switching to later outcomes--at the end of secondary school, we see differences in the immediate 4-year college enrollment rates between high-poverty and low-poverty public high schools.

This difference, and the others that we have highlighted, suggest that it is important to continue to focus attention on high-poverty schools.

This concludes our review of The Condition of Education 2010. I would like to point out that, in addition to the indicators presented today, the report contains several new indicators on topics such as teacher performance pay, students studying abroad, and others. We are beginning to track several of these new indicators and look forward to following them in future reports.

Deputy Commissioner Stuart Kerachsky's Briefing Slides PDF (1.37 MB)

Visit the Condition of Education website.