To help inform policymakers and the public about the progress of education in the United States, Congress has mandated that the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) produce an annual report, "The Condition of Education." This year's report presents 42 indicators of important developments and trends in U.S. education. These indicators focus on population characteristics, participation in education, elementary and secondary education, and postsecondary education.
As this year's Condition shows, in 2012, about 90 percent of young adults ages 25 to 29 had a high school diploma, or its equivalent, and 33 percent had a bachelor's degree or higher. As in previous years, annual median earnings in 2011 were higher for those with higher levels of education -- for example, 25- to 34-year-olds with a college degree earned over twice as much as high school dropouts.
In 2011, almost two-thirds of 3- to 5-year-olds were enrolled in preschool, and nearly 60 percent of these children were in full-day programs. At the elementary and secondary level, there were about 50 million public school students in 2011, a number that is expected to grow to 53 million in the next decade. Of these students, nearly 2 million attended charter schools. Postsecondary enrollment in 2011 was at 21 million students, including 18 million undergraduate and 3 million graduate students.
NCES's newest data on elementary and secondary schools show that about one in five public schools was considered high poverty in 2011 -- meaning that 75 percent or more of their enrolled students qualified for free or reduced-price lunch -- up from about to one in eight in 2000. In school year 2009 -- 10, some 3.1 million public high school students, or 78.2 percent, graduated on time with a regular diploma. And, in 2011, about 68 percent of recent high school completers were enrolled in college the following fall. Meanwhile, the status dropout rate, or the percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and do not have a high school diploma or its equivalent, declined from 12 percent in 1990 to 7 percent in 2011.
At 4-year colleges in 2011, nearly 90 percent of full-time students at public and private nonprofit institutions were under the age of 25. However, only about 29 percent of full-time students at private for-profit colleges were, while 39 percent were between the ages of 25 to 34 and another 32 percent were 35 and older. About 56 percent of male students and 61 percent of female students who began their bachelor's degree in the fall of 2005, and did not transfer, had completed their degree by 2011. In that year, there were 1.7 million bachelor's degrees and over 700,000 master's degrees awarded.
The Condition of Education 2013 includes the latest data available on these and more key indicators. As new data are released, the indicators will be updated and made available. Along with these indicators, NCES produces a wide range of reports and data to help inform policymakers and the American public about trends and conditions in U.S. education.
- Observation: In 2012, about 90% of young adults ages 25 to 29 had a high school diploma and 33% had a bachelor's degree or higher.
- Observation: In 2011, almost two thirds of 3- to 5-year-olds were enrolled in preschool. There were about 50 million students in public elementary and secondary schools and 21 million in postsecondary enrollment.
- Observation: About 68% of recent high school graduates in 2011 were enrolled in college the following fall.
- Challenge: About 1 in 5 schools was considered high poverty in 2011, up from about 1 in 8 in 2000.