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The Condition of Education, 2001

Chat Host Hello, and welcome to today’s StatChat. The Condition of Education, 2001 was released last Thursday, May 31. I hope you’ve had a chance to download the report from the website and I’m sure you’ll have many questions. Let’s get right to them.

John from Okatie, SC asked:
For thse of us who will be unable to be online at the appointed hour, will NCES provide some kind of a transcript online which, at a later date, one can review the questions and answers?
John Wirt: Good question, John. Yes, NCES will post a transcript online of today's chat. It can be found at Transcripts of other recent StatChats can also be found on this page.

Erin from El Centro, CA asked:
How much money do most high schools receive from the government?
John Wirt: NCES publishes data on the amount of revenues received from the federal government by elementary and secondary school districts in a report on Federal Support for Education, which you can find at The Common Core of Data has information on the funds received by school districts from both the federal government and the states. One such report is "Statistics in Brief: Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: School Year 1997-98." You can also find tables of revenues by source and expenditures by function in the 2000 Digest of Educational Statistics (see pp. 175-192). Unfortunately, the data are not split out according to the level of schooling in any of these reports. This is not included in NCES's reporting requirements and it would be difficult for most school districts to report either expenditures or revenues by level. Many district expenditures are not divisible by level. A simple example would be the superintendent's salary.

Max from Arlington, VA asked:
What are the proportions of children--by race/ethnicity and by low-income and non-low-income--which arrive at school not ready to learn?
John Wirt: Indicator 8 in the Condition of Education 2001 shows how large the differences in reading and mathematics scores of children entering kindergarten are according to their mother's educational level, as one measure of students who are at risk of not succeeding in school. Children whose mothers have less than a high school education score about one standard deviation lower than children whose mothers have completed college. The data in this indicator come from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. To find out the percentages of students who start behind compared to the highest performing students by mother's education, by race, or by income - as different measures of being at risk -- I suggest you look in the first major report from the ECLS, on "Entering Kindergarten, which can be found at You can also look at indicators 26 in the Condition of Education 2000, which shows the percentages of kindergarteners who "persist at tasks," are "eager to learn," and "pay attention," as rated by their kindergarten teachers. Differences in these percentages are shown by mother's education, race/ethnicity, and sex. It is important not to equate having lower skills with "not being able to learn," since indicator 8 shows that average skills in reading and mathematics increase through kindergarten and first grade for children by about as much among children whose mothers have less than a high school education and those whose mothers have completed college.

Larry from Morehead, Ky asked:
Can we begin to assess the information literacy of students from these data?
John Wirt: I am not sure what data you are refering to other than the Condition of Education report as a whole. So far NCES has not supported any assessments of information technology skills. We do have data on the extent of computer and Internet use among students. See the list of indicators in the Condition of Education in

Robert from Little Rock AR asked:
Is there info available of the effect of federal and/or state financial aid on graduation rates? e.g. grad rates for Pell recipients vs. grad rates for control group with like characteristics but without Pell grants?
John Wirt: Robert, you have stumped the band. NCES currently does not have any studies of this issue but one is underway. One of the problems is defining the appropriate comparison. Low income students are all eligible for Pell grants, so the low income students who don't get them is small and probably not otherwise comparable to those who do. In our current study we are comparing them to middle income students and finding that they do just as well, but this is not ready for publication yet.

Chris from Portland, Oregon asked:
It would really be helpful if you could provide state rankings. Is there any plan to do so?
John Wirt: We have considered state rankings but space is limited in the Condition of Education and state tables occupy quite a bit of real estate. I will consider including some comparative state information in next year's Condition of Education, but meanwhile you might want to look at a new web page created by the NAEP folks here at NCES. It's very good. They show state profiles for all the states with NAEP data. You might also want to check out some good information provided by the Council of Chief State School Officers at Education Week at also does an annual report comparing the states in a variety of ways, often using NCES data.

Kevin from Jackson, Miss. asked:
What are the different comparisons you can provide for international statistics? Are there items on teachers for example?
John Wirt: Kevin, NCES collects data on international comparisons using multiple surveys and assessments. The Digest of Education Statistics contains information on population, enrollments, achievement, degrees, and finances. See for more information. In addition, the Third International Mathematics and Science Study-Repeat collected data on student performance, mathematics and science teachers, and several other background characteristics. See for more information. Indicator 43 in the Condition of Education 2001 (see section 4 in the PDF) provides the main results from TIMSS-R on teachers.

Larry Besant from Morehead, Ky asked:
Can you draw any conclusions regarding the "condition of libraries" from the 59 indicators in the latest report?
John Wirt: No, there are no indicators in the Condition of Education 2001 on libraries. A major report on libraries will be released by NCES in the next few months. Sign up for the NCES' NewsFlash to be notified when this report is released. With the release of the report we may include an indicator on libraries in the Condition of Education next year.

Linda W. Stokes from Washington, DC asked:
Did your study look at the student financial aid programs and the various students that benefit from these programs.
John Wirt: By students who are “receiving federal/state financial assistance,” I presume you mean student financial aid to attend postsecondary education. One good source for this this information is "Student Financing of Undergraduate Education: 1995-96, With an Essay on Student Loans" and a similar report on graduate education. Within a few months results will be available from NPSAS 2000 to update the information you will find in this report. Fifty percent of undergraduates (p. 34) and 52 percent of graduate/first-professional students (p. 54) received some type of financial aid in 1995-96. The reports present detailed information on the types and amounts of aid received, broken down by a variety of student and institutional characteristics.

Betty from Syracuse, New York asked:
Do all of these indicators get updated on an annual basis? Do you ever change what you are measuring?
John Wirt: All indicators published in the Condition of Education use the latest available data. Each year there are a certain number of indicators that we have published before and some that are new. In the last few years there have been quite a few new indicators. To some extent the availability of new data determines what indicators we include.

A.R. from Eclectic, AL. asked:
How best, without being antagonistic, can a parent get teachers and adminstration to comply (fully implement) an IEP and applicable law?
John Wirt: First, I suggest you speak with the special education department in your local school district to see if you can find someone who will respond. Many school districts have a special education ombudsman, one whose primary responsibility is to assist parents in IEP implementation. If you don't get satisfaction there, call the special education division in your state department of education and find someone who can assist you. If none of these avenues work, you could contact the federal Office of Special Education Programs. A person whom you could contact is Ruth Ryder, Director of the State Improvement Plans Division at 202 205-5547.

Linda from Greensburg, Pennsylvania asked:
Why do you predict that future growth in undergraduate education is expected to be greater in full-time and 4-year enrollments - even though your study shows that part-time and 2-year enrolments have grown more rapidly?
John Wirt: This is a good question. As you can see from the graph in indicator 2, 2-year and part-time enrollments grew faster than 4-year and full-time enrollment in the 1970s, but in the 1980 and 1990s their was little difference. In the coming decade, 4-year and full-time enrollments are expected to grow faster than part-time and 2-year enrollments. The reason for this is primarily the growth in the size of the youth population relative to older individuals due to the baby boom echo. Currently the baby boom echo is boosting enrollments in high schools. Younger students have always tended to enroll in 4-year programs at higher rates than older individuals, so as these younger students increase in numbers in the population, the enrollment rates in 4-year institutions will grow. Also, the high rate of return on four years of college education (increased earnings of college graduates) is probably encouraging even higher proportions of these younger students to attend 4-year colleges rather than 2-year colleges. Technically, the projections shown in indicator 2 are driven by (1) current enrollment trends, (2) the known size of population cohorts, and (3) some assumptions that are built into the projection models about alternative economic scenarios.

Mike from Honolulu, HI asked:
The NCES reports that I've looked at lately say "available online only," including Condition of Ed. If I wish to look up a couple of facts, that's fine, but to view it substantively, I need hard copy. Please--what's the holdup on printing NCES publications? Many thanks!
John Wirt: For the Condition of Education we opted to release the report as soon as we finished the review process and prepared the files for the printer rather than wait for the report to be printed. The report was released on May 31 and printed copies will be available about July 13. Everyone who has placed an advanced order with ED Pubs at : 877-4-ED-PUBS will receive their printed copy shortly after that.

Jon from Rockville MD asked:
Who is Susan Choy and why does her essay on Postsecondary Access, Persistence, and Attainment not include the effects of student financial aid programs? May I guess that she is a contractor and that there is too little evaluation material on financial aid access programs to draw any conclusions? This is not to say her essay is bad; it is very good as far as it goes.
John Wirt: Susan Choy is the main author of sections 3 and 5 in the Condition of Education 2001, as well as the essay, and over the years has authored numerous NCES reports. She is Vice President of MPR Associates in California and has published a lot of research on postsecondary education and many other areas in the course of her career. In the conclusion of the essay readers are explicitly cautioned not to misinterpret the findings reported in the essay as meaning that the rates of enrollment are unaffected by student aid or family income levels. The essay goes to some lengths to point out where analyses have shown the “independent effect” (emphasis added) of coursetaking and the other variables considered taking family income into account. The availability of student aid and family income may also independently affect the enrollment rates of first generation students but this would be difficult to examine with the NCES data sources that are currently available and on which the essay is based. One of these data sets is NELS:88 and it contains no information on aid offered and received. The postsecondary longitudinal studies used (BPS and B&B) did not track students in high school.

Simon from Las Cruces, NM asked:
Are these indicators similar to the types of indicators that are put out by the Bureua of Labor Statistics? Can you actually project the change or the trends over time?
John Wirt: Simon, the indicators in this report are similar to those published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in that they are based on nationally representative surveys. In addition, some indicators use economic data. In particular, the indicator projecting higher education enrollment is based on economic scenarios using data on the performance of the economy, as I mentioned before in response to another question.

Marta from Middletown,Ct asked:
What is the rate of dropouts in Europe?
John Wirt: An estimate of dropout rates internationally can be found in indicator 32 in the COE2001. That indicator shows the years of education completed in different population age groups across countries. The dropout rate in those countries is 1.0 minus the secondary school completion rate for 24-35 years, as shown in table 32-1. What these data show is that the dropout rates - or, technically the attainment rates - are currently about the same in major industrialized countries (Germany, Japan, France, etc.) For information about the attainment rates in other countries see the publication “Education at a Glance” published by the Organization for Cooperation and Economic Development (). Attainment rates provide a good measure of the dropout rate except to the extent that a country has a large number of immigrants who have never enrolled in the country's school system. In comparing attainment levels across countries it is important to remember that the school systems are very different across countries. “High school completion” in the U.S. does not mean the same thing as the completion of secondary school in other countries, where students have so many different paths they can follow.

Patrick from Ft. Myers, Florida asked:
What concerns me about American education is the lack of equity and equality. We test all students with the same statewide standardized tests, but we spend different amounts of money on their education. It is a basic unfairness that structures PUBLIC education so that rich parents kids get great schools, but poor parents kids get awful schools. Why isn't this more generally understood, and rectified?
John Wirt: This is a major issue in American education. We have some information on this issue in the COE2001 in indicator 56, where we show the differences in funding among schools in central cities, suburban, and rural areas, but there is more information that we should provide. Your question prompts me to consider including more indicators on funding inequality in education next year. Last year we had an indicator (COE 2000 #64) that compared the differences in educational expenditures per student among states. That indicator shows that the disparities within states have decreased some in the last few years but the difference between states have grown. There is a full NCES report by Bill Sonnenberg and Bill Hussar on this issue () that you may want to read. The Office of Research in the Department of Education has a research center on finance issues that you may wish to examine: HTTP://cpre Also please see NCES's own EDFIN center HTTP://

Rob from Austin, Texas asked:
I noticed that 2 of your outcome indicators talked about women getting more degrees and still earning less than men, and that their is still a gap in many levels between blacks, whites and hispanics. What's being done to change these situations?
John Wirt: There are a number of programs sponsored by the federal government, foundations, and the College Board to encourage black students, low income students, and others who might ordinarily not enroll in college to prepare themselves to enroll and to aid them in enrolling.

Eric from New York, NY asked:
What is the status of bringing technology into the classroom? Where do you feel it needs to grow to? What organizations are there that control technology based funding for schools (like E-rate)? Where can I get more information on the subject?
John Wirt: There are a number of NCES reports on the status of technology in the schools. If you go to the Electronic Catalog on the home page and search using the term "technology" you will find several of the latest reports on technology that should answer your questions. The most recent being the one found at: only have time for one more question.

Jerry from Rockville, MD asked:
Do you think that there will ever come a time when the higher education indicators will somehow be incorporated in the US News & World Report rankings of Universities and Colleges.
John Wirt: Good last question. In general, when NCES develops indicators we strive to report on important developments and trends in American education. We do not attempt to rate individual schools, colleges, or universities. However, many outside organizations find our data useful, and often use them for other purposes, such as ranking schools. We are not involved in this process, but hope that the data are useful to policymakers, educators, parents, and families.

Thank you for all of your questions. Some of the questions suggest good ideas that will be used in planning next year’s edition. Unfortunately, I could not get to all the questions but you can reach me by email at in case I missed yours. I hope you found this session and the report to be useful. See you again next year at about this same time for a StatChat Live on the Condition of Education, 2002.

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