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last updated: 6/13/2013

Data Pathfinders: Education Statistics

Basic Print Sources at IUB Wells Library and Electronic Resources on the Web

Basic Print Sources at IUB Wells Library

The U. S. government publishes excellent and easy-to-use statistics on education issues. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is the agency behind all of this. In NCES publications, one can finds a vast array of tables and graphs.


Note: Some locations of print materials may have changed. Consult IUCAT for current locations.


Below are the two best ongoing NCES publications:

  • Digest of Education Statistics.
    [ED 1.326: ET2 -- 1975-79 editions in storage; 1980-present in ET2; latest issue(s) on reserve at the front desk].
    The mother of all education statistics volumes, everything can usually be found here. The only problem is that no interpretation of the statistics' significance is done for the reader/student; the reader/student must interpret the data him/herself. So much of the space in other NCES publications deal with contextualizing (or interpreting) the information; no such space is "wasted" here. This is a good source for the student who already knows what s/he wants and why s/he wants it.

  • The Condition of Education.
    [ED 1.109: ET2--again, 1975-79 editions in storage; 1980-present in ET2; latest issue(s) on reserve at the front desk].
    The motivation, according to its authors, is: "Federal, state, and local policymakers require a variety of information to develop, implement, and monitor policies designed to improve education... Informed decisions cannot be made without valid information, however." All levels are covered here--primary, middle school, high school, postsecondary. Lots and lots of graphs and tables--and, unlike in the Digest, these statistics are interpreted for the reader. Its "Sources of Data" section in the back of each publication is potentially quite useful; it could point the student to other more helpful sources.

Other resources include:

  • The National Education Goals Report.
    [ED 1.1/3: ET2 ? Various types of publications from various years].
    We have several different NEGR volumes; all are located together on the shelf. Begun in 1989, the NEGR is interested in "building a national consensus for educational improvement" and in speeding up this improvement process. Eight goals are provided: 1) Ready to learn, 2) School completion, 3) Student achievement and citizenship, 4) Teacher education and professional development, 5) Math and science, 6) Adult literacy and lifelong learning, 7) Safe, disciplined, and alcohol- and drug-free schools, and 8) Parental participation. A nice source for quick statistical/graphical support for one's thesis/argument.

  • Statistical Abstract of the United States. U. S. Bureau of the Census .
    [C 3.134:2000 ET2 - Reference Desk].
    This work is a good and easy-to-use bet for finding statistics on education and many other topics, so always keep it in mind.

  • Education Statistics Quarterly. NCES.
    [ED 1.328/13: ET2 ? Reference Desk].
    This work just began publication in 1999. If you don't know exactly what your research topic is going to be, but you know that it has something to do with education, look here first; each issue is focusing on different things, and obviously only the hot topics in education will be published. If you want to know what these hot topics are, look here too. Not so easy to navigate, maybe, but again, these publications could help one kick-start his/her research.

  • Historical Trends: State Education Facts 1969 to 1989. NCES. John Grymes and Irene Harwath.
    [ED 1.302: H62 1969-1989 ET2 -- Stacks].
    Contains lots of U.S. maps with "Percentage change" for the time period covered in various categories. Also provides year-by-year numbers for each state for each category/topic (e.g., enrollment, salary, etc.). There are 41 different topics--graphs and tables are provided for each. This is obviously a nice tool, though it is somewhat old. Can be supplemented with other sources listed here, obviously. A more recent volume along the same lines is State Comparisons of Education Statistics: 1969-70 to 1996-97 (ET2 1.302: Sr 2/4).

  • Education Indicators. Ed. by Joyce Stern. NCES. 1988 and 1989 volumes.
    [ED 1.109/2: 1988 and 1989 ET2 -- Stacks].
    These volumes trace educational trends for earlier years as well--the 1970s through the mid-1980s, usually. Topics of interest haven't really changed that much in the past 10-15 years, interestingly enough. Would be quite helpful for one interested in comparing current educational trends and statistics and problems with somewhat older ones--perhaps a student could use such a source to dispel the sorts of "The World is Going to Hell in a Handbasket" myths that are so prevalent in American society, especially regarding education and "our young people."
  • Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS). NCES. Various publications.
    [ED 1.302: ET2 -- Stacks].
    This is, as its authors describe, "the most comprehensive survey of the school work force and teacher supply and demand ever conducted in the U.S." The tables and graphs contained here are quite different than those found elsewhere; the focus is completely different. Topics include teacher job satisfaction, teacher salaries, teacher perceptions. The foreward claims that SASS is to be conducted every five years, but GPD doesn't have the 1998-99 edition--whether the SASS was altogether ditched or just put on hold is hard to say. The most recent edition, then, is the 1993-94 edition, so it could be a little outdated (something like "teacher perceptions" has probably changed quite a bit in the post-Columbine era, for example).

  • America's Teachers: Profile of a Profession, 1993-94.
    [ED 1.302: T 22/6/993-94 ET2 -- Stacks].
    Contains statistics very much like the source above. Does a somewhat better job of interpreting and contextualizing these statistics, however.

  • NAEP 1998 Reading Report Card for the Nation and the States. NCES
    [ED 1.302: R 22/4/998 ET2 -- Stacks].
    There is an obvious focus here on reading. Many of the stats here simply require the user to read some of the text (i.e., the tables and graphs are not instantly interpreted). For instance, the term "proficient reader" is used a lot here; but what do the authors mean by "proficient"?

  • Youth Indicators 1996: Trends in the Well-Being of American Youth. NCES.
    [ED 1.327:996 ET2 -- Reference Desk].
    The stats here are not limited to school; socioeconomic background, for instance, is discussed. Could be useful in putting together the "big picture," in other words, since non-school-related matters obviously have a huge impact on students' performance.

  • World Data on Education: A Guide to the Structure of National Education Systems. International Bureau of Education. [LB 43.673 ET2 -- Stacks].
    Finally, non-American educational statistics! This source shows the number of schools, enrollment, and the number of teachers for every single country. Some (but not many) graphs and tables can be found in the back. A bit of a disappointment in many regards, but worth a look if one is interested in comparative education.

  • Violence and Discipline Problems in U.S. Public School: 1996-97. NCES.
    [ED 1.328/5: V81 ET2 -- Reference Desk].
    Like other NCES publications, this source is easy-to-use and full of graphs and tables. A good resource for a hot topic.

  • Projections of Education Statistics to 2008. NCES.
    [ED 1.120:2008 ET2 -- Reference Desk].
    This is the 27th report in a series begun in 1964. The projections are for enrollment, graduates, classroom teachers, and expenditures. Put together for students and researchers, not for bureaucrats. A good source to use for quantifying one's vision of education in the future, obviously.

  • Education in the United States. 1990 Census of Population. Bureau of the Census.
    [C3: 223/10:1990 CP-3-4 ET2 -- Reference Desk].
    Statistics on educational attainment by age, sex, race, and national origin, for both the national and state level. Not nearly as straightforward as the NCES stuff found here. The 2000 Census information can be found online.

  • Private Schools in the United States: A Statistical Profile, with Comparisons to Public Schools.
    [ED 1.102:P 93/2 ET2 -- Reference Desk].
    Not flashy like most other NCES stuff. A little outdated (published in 1991).

  • Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2000. NCES.
    [ED 1.102:C86 ET2 -- Reference Desk].
    This work is effectively an update of one of the works listed above (Violence and Discipline Problems...).

  • Key Data on Education in Europe. European Community.
    [LA 620 .K48 ET2 -- Reference Desk].
    Europeans clearly think about education much differently than do Americans, as evidenced by the different sorts of tables and graphs found here. Worth a look.

  • Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators.
    [LA 620 .K48 ET2 -- Reference Desk].
    For OECD ("first world") countries. Published in 2001, so the information is very current. Its electronic copy in PDF is available on the OECD website; see the list of electronic resources as followed.

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Electronic Resources on the Web

The following are some of the frequently used microdata data resources distributed by NCES.



last updated: 6/13/2013