Public education in the United States

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Education policy in the U.S.
Public education in the U.S.

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Note: The statistics on this page are mainly from government sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Education Statistics. Figures given are the most recent as of June 2014, with school years noted in the text or footnotes.

Public education in the United States is mainly the province of state and local governments, which provide most of the funding and administrative oversight of public schools for kindergarten through grade 12. The public school system operates mainly within school districts governed by locally elected school boards and superintendents. According to the Common Core of Data (CCD) released by the United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, for the 2011-2012 school year there were nearly 50 million students enrolled in a total of 98,328 schools in 17,992 school districts. There were 3.1 million teachers in the public schools, or roughly one teacher for every 16 students. There was roughly one administrator for every 295 students.[1] The average amount of spending for each pupil was $10,994, according to the United States Department of Education.[2]

Organization

Federal level

The federal government does not exercise direct authority over the nation's education system -- instead, states and local communities are responsible for their educational institutions. According to the United States Department of Education, the federal government's role in education is limited to the following general responsibilities:[3]

  • Exercising leadership in promoting educational policies and reform efforts of national scope
  • Administering federal assistance programs authorized and appropriated by Congress
  • Enforcing federal civil rights laws as they pertain to education
  • Providing information and statistics about education at the national and international levels
  • Providing technical expertise to the United States Department of State, United States Department of Homeland Security, other federal agencies and Executive Office of the President in conducting the foreign affairs of the United States as these pertain to education and within the limited scope of federal power in this area[4]

—United States Department of Education

State level

State governments are responsible for direct oversight of the education systems in their states, including execution of necessary political, administrative and fiscal functions. General responsibilities of the states include:[5]

  • Providing funding for public education at all levels
  • Licensing or chartering private schools and public and private institutions of higher education
  • Providing oversight and guidance to local school boards
  • Setting broad policies for school-level curricula, texts, standards, and assessments (but not higher education)
  • Overseeing the provision of educational services for persons living with disabilities, adults needing basic education services, and other special needs populations
  • Setting the standards for examining and licensing persons seeking to work in any regulated professional occupation
  • Electing or appointing some or all of the members of the governing boards of public higher education institutions and state boards of education[4]

—United States Department of Education

Local level

Local school boards are responsible for the actual operation of public schools. General responsibilities at the local level include:[6]

  • Implementing and enforcing state laws and policies
  • Developing and implementing their own educational policies
  • Hiring and supervising professional teaching staffs
  • Raising money for pay for schools (usually through property taxes plus special bond issues)[4]

—United States Department of Education

Agencies

U.S. Department of Education

The United States Department of Education is an executive department established in 1980. The department was formed to promote educational excellence and ensure equal opportunity for public schooling.[7] The department is led by the current Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.

The department employed 4,400 employees in 2013.[7] The operating budget for fiscal year 2013 was $65.7 billion. The department implements laws passed by Congress and administers grants to states for certain programs, such as No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top and Title One School Improvement Grants.[7][8][9]

National Center for Education Statistics

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is the primary federal entity responsible for collecting and analyzing data related to education. NCES is located within the United States Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences and "fulfills a Congressional mandate to collect, collate, analyze, and report complete statistics on the condition of American education; conduct and publish reports; and review and report on education activities internationally." The Director of the Institute of Education Sciences and Acting Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics is James Q Easton.[10]

General statistics

See also: General comparison table for education statistics in the 50 states
See also: Education spending per pupil in all 50 states

The following table summarizes key data relating to the nation's public education system, including the number of students and schools, teacher/student and administrator/student ratios, and per pupil spending. For added context, corresponding data from the states with the highest and lowest per pupil education expenditures (New York and Utah, respectively) are also provided.

General public education statistics
State* Schools* Districts* Students* Teachers* Teacher/pupil ratio* Administrator/pupil ratio* Per pupil spending**
United States 98,328 17,992 49,521,669 3,103,263 1:16 1:295.2 $10,994
Utah 1,020 126 598,832 25,970 1:23.1 1:450.2 $6,212
New York 4,752 923 2,704,718 209,527 1:12.9 1:293.2 $19,076
* Note: Data dates to the 2011-12 academic year.
** Note: Data dates to the 2010-11 academic year.
Sources: United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey", 2011-12 v.1a.

National Center for Education Statistics, Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12
United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011,Governments Division Reports," issued May 2013

Demographics

See also: Demographic information for all students in the United States
See also: Student distribution by region type in the U.S.

According to the Common Core of Data (CCD) nearly 50 million students were enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools as of the 2011-2012 academic. The tables below detail enrollments by ethnicity and region type. For added context, corresponding data from the states with the highest and lowest per pupil education expenditures (New York and Utah, respectively) are also provided.

Enrollments by ethnicity (percentages) in 2011-12
American Indian/Alaska Native Asian/Pacific Islander Black Hispanic White Hawaiian Nat./Pacific Islander Two or more races
United States 1.1% 4.68% 15.68% 24.37% 51.21% 0.42% 2.54%
Utah 1.24% 1.77% 1.33% 15.32% 77.47% 1.51% 1.36%
New York 0.54% 8.38% 18.49% 23.33% 48.23% 0.19% 0.83%
Source: United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey, 2011-12 v.1a." accessed May 15, 2014
Enrollments by region type (percentages) in 2011-12
City schools Suburban schools Town schools Rural schools
United States 28.9% 34% 11.6% 25.4%
Utah 16.5% 50.9% 12.9% 19.7%
New York 44.1% 35.3% 7.3% 13.2%
Source: United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey, 2011-12 v.1a." accessed May 15, 2014

Performance

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See also

NAEP

See also: NAEP scores by state

The National Center for Education Statistics provides state-by-state data on student achievement levels in mathematics and reading in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). National averages for students scoring at or above proficient in the noted subject areas are provided in the table below. For added context, corresponding data from the states with the highest and lowest per pupil education expenditures (New York and Utah, respectively) are also provided. For a state-by-state breakdown of data, see "NAEP scores by state."

Percent of students scoring at or above proficient, 2012-2013
Math - Grade 4 Math - Grade 8 Reading - Grade 4 Reading - Grade 8
U.S. average 41 34 34 34
Utah 44 36 37 39
New York 40 32 37 35
Source: United States Department of Education, ED Data Express, "State Tables," accessed May 13, 2014

Graduation rate

See also: Graduation rates by groups in state

In 2012, the United States high school graduation rate was 80 percent. This is the Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate, which is defined as the "number of students who graduate in four years with a regular high school diploma divided by the number of students who form the adjusted cohort for the graduating class. From the beginning of 9th grade (or the earliest high school grade), students who are entering that grade for the first time form a cohort that is “adjusted” by adding any students who subsequently transfer into the cohort and subtracting any students who subsequently transfer out, emigrate to another country, or die."[11]

The high school event dropout rate indicates the proportion of students who were enrolled at some time during the school year and were expected to be enrolled in grades 9–12 in the following school year but were not enrolled by October 1 of the following school year. Students who have graduated, transferred to another school, died, moved to another country, or who are out of school due to illness are not considered dropouts. The average public high school event dropout rate for the United States remained constant at 3.3 percent for both SY 2010–11 and SY 2011–12.[12]

The table below presents the national high school graduation and dropout rates and, for added context, the graduation and dropout rates of the states with the highest and lowest per pupil education expenditures (New York and Utah, respectively). For a state-by-state breakdown of graduation rates, see "Graduation rates by groups in state."

Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate, 2012
Graduation rate, 2012 Dropout rate, 2012
United States 80% 3.3%
Utah 83% 1.5%
New York 87% 3.8%
Source: United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Dropout and Graduation Rate Data File, School Year 2010-11, Provision Version 1a and School Year 2011-12, Preliminary Version 1a," accessed May 13, 2014

ACT and SAT scores

See also: ACT and SAT scores in the U.S.

The following table notes the national average ACT and SAT composite scores for 2012 and 2013, respectively. For added context, corresponding data from the states with the highest and lowest per pupil education expenditures (New York and Utah, respectively) are also provided. For a complete state-by-state breakdown, see "ACT and SAT scores in the U.S."[13][14]

ACT and SAT test scores
Average ACT Composite, 2012 Percent of graduates tested Average SAT Composite, 2013 Percent of graduates tested
U.S. average 21.1 52% 1,498 50%
Utah 20.7 97% 1,684 6%
New York 23.3 29% 1,463 76%
Sources: ACT, "2012 ACT National and State Scores," accessed May 13, 2014
Commonwealth Foundation, "SAT Scores by State 2013," October 10, 2013

Revenues and expenditures

Revenues

See also: Public school system revenues in the U.S.

The table below summarizes total public school system revenues in the United States for fiscal year 2011. Revenues are broken down by source (federal, state or local). For added context, corresponding data from the states with the highest and lowest per pupil education expenditures (New York and Utah, respectively) are also provided. For a complete state-by-state breakdown, see "Public school system revenues in the U.S."

Summary of public school system revenues for elementary and secondary school districts, fiscal year 2011 (in thousands)
Federal revenue State revenue Local revenue revenue Total revenue
United States $74,943,767 $267,762,416 $264,550,594 $607,256,777
Utah $519,547 $2,211,870 $1,589,706 $4,321,123
New York $5,127,425 $23,189,453 $29,266,236 $57,583,114
Source: United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "School District Finance Survey (F-33), Fiscal Year 2011, Provision Version 1a.," accessed June 25, 2014

Expenditures

See also: Public school system expenditures in the U.S.

The table below summarizes total public school system expenditures in the United States for fiscal year 2011. Expenditures are broken down by type (current, capital outlay or other). For added context, corresponding data from the states with the highest and lowest per pupil education expenditures (New York and Utah, respectively) are also provided. For a complete state-by-state breakdown, see "Public school system expenditures in the U.S."

Summary of public school system expenditures for elementary and secondary school districts, fiscal year 2011 (in thousands)
Current expenditures Capital outlay Other Total expenditures
United States $520,577,893 $52,984,139 $29,581,293 $603,143,325
Utah $3,600,074 $693,458 $234,361 $4,527,893
New York $51,203,701 $4,655,961 $2,680,715 $58,540,377
Source: United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "School District Finance Survey (F-33), Fiscal Year 2011, Provision Version 1a.," accessed June 25, 2014

Teacher salaries

See also: Public school teacher salaries in the U.S.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average national salary for classroom teachers in public elementary and secondary schools has declined by 1.3 percent from the 1999-2000 school year to the 2012-2013 school year. For added context, corresponding data from the states with the highest and lowest per pupil education expenditures (New York and Utah, respectively) are also provided. For a state-by-state breakdown, see "Public school teacher salaries in the U.S."[15]

Estimated average salaries for teachers (in constant dollars**)
1999-2000 2009-2010 2011-2012 2012-2013 Percent difference
U.S. average $57,133 $58,925 $56,340 $56,383 -1.30%
Utah $47,757 $48,980 $48,961 $49,393 3.40%
New York $69,723 $76,464 $74,620 $75,279 8.00%
**"Constant dollars based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, adjusted to a school-year basis. The CPI does not account for differences in inflation rates from state to state."

School choice

See also: School choice by state

Educational choice options in the U.S. include, but are not limited to:

  • School vouchers: School vouchers are government-funded scholarships that allow public school students to attend private schools. Vouchers redirect a state's per-pupil education funding, giving it directly to families instead of school districts. Voucher programs exist in 13 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Charter schools: Charter schools are public schools operated independently of the public school system, either by non-profit or for-profit organizations. Although they are publicly funded, charter schools are exempt from many of the requirements imposed by state boards of education regarding hiring and curriculum. Because they are public schools, charter schools cannot charge tuition or have special entrance requirements.
  • Public school choice: States may have open enrollment policies in place, which allow students to transfer to public schools other than those to which they are assigned. Under intra-district open enrollment policies, students may transfer out of their assigned schools to other schools within their home districts. Under inter-district open enrollment policies, students may transfer to schools outside of their home districts.

See also

External links

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References

  1. United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD); Table 2.—Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011-12," accessed May 12, 2014
  2. United States Department of Education, "ED Data Express," accessed May 12, 2014
  3. United States Department of Education, "Organization of U.S. Education - The Federal Role," accessed June 25, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  5. United States Department of Education, "Organization of U.S. Education - The State Role," accessed June 25, 2014
  6. United States Department of Education, "Organization of U.S. Education - The Local Level," accessed June 25, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 United States Department of Education, "About ED: Overview and Mission Statement," accessed October 2, 2013
  8. United States Department of Education, "The Federal Role in Education," accessed on January 20, 2014
  9. United States Department of Education, "Policy Overview," accessed January 20, 2014
  10. United States Department of Education, "National Center for Education Statistics," accessed June 24, 2014
  11. United States Department of Education, ED Data Express, "State Tables," accessed May 13, 2014
  12. United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Dropout and Graduation Rate Data File, School Year 2010-11, Provision Version 1a and School Year 2011-12, Preliminary Version 1a," accessed May 13, 2014
  13. ACT, "2012 ACT National and State Scores," accessed May 13, 2014
  14. Commonwealth Foundation, "SAT Scores by State 2013," October 10, 2013
  15. United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 211.60. Estimated average annual salary of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, by state: Selected years, 1969-70 through 2012-13," accessed May 13, 2014