Category Archives: Education

Cities in Crisis: A Special Analytic Report on High School Graduation

Source: America’s Promise Alliance

Graduation rates have become a prominent feature in the landscape of high school reform and within the larger world of educational policy. Studies conducted over the past several years have repeatedly demonstrated that far fewer American students are completing high school with diplomas than had previously been realized. Whereas the conventional wisdom had long placed the graduation rate around 85 percent, a growing consensus has emerged that only about seven in 10 students are actually successfully finishing high school. Graduation rates are even lower among certain student populations, particularly racial and ethnic minorities and males.

That same conventional wisdom also suggests that the type of community in which a student lives and attends school will exert a strong and pervasive influence on a variety of educational outcomes. This connection between place and performance applies to both the experiences of individual students and the collective performance of schools and school systems. Striking differences between schools situated in urban and suburban environments, for instance, have frequently been documented in the area of tested achievement. An analysis by the EPE Research Center also shows that high school graduation rates are 15 percentage points lower in the nation’s urban schools when compared with those located in the suburbs. Despite the acknowledged importance of such contextual factors, apart from attention to broad national-level patterns, there has been limited detailed investigation into the connection between where a young person lives and his or her chances of graduating from high school.

This report takes a geographically-informed approach to the issue of high school completion. Specifically, we examine graduation rates in the school districts serving the nation’s 50 most-populous cities as well as the larger metropolitan areas in which they are situated. Results show that graduation rates are considerably lower in the nation’s largest cities than they are in the average urban locale. Further, extreme disparities emerge in a number of the country’s largest metropolitan areas, where students served by suburban systems may be twice as likely as their urban peers to graduate from high school.

Full report (PDF; 1.8 MB)

USDA Releases School Meals Cost Study

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service

From press release:
The study compares the cost of producing school meals in the 2005-2006 school year to the total revenue to schools from Federal reimbursements, state and local contributions, and payments by participating households. That year, the average cost to produce a lunch was $2.28 and the Federal subsidy for a free lunch, including cash and commodity food, was about $2.50. Other key findings include:
• On average, revenue generated from reimbursable lunches exceeded the reported cost of production.
• On average, revenue generated from reimbursable breakfasts and a la carte foods did not cover the reported costs for production. As a result, revenue from reimbursable lunches subsidizes a portion of the cost to produce and serve both breakfasts and a la carte foods.
• On average, school food services operated at a break-even level in 2005-06, with revenues equal to costs.
• While most lunches cost less to produce than the USDA subsidy for a free lunch, not all did. For almost four out of five school districts, the average cost of producing a lunch was less than the free subsidy; in the rest, the average cost exceeded the subsidy.
Reported costs reflect all costs that a school food service must cover with the funds they receive. The study also examined the combination of reported costs and other costs, described as “full costs”. School districts do not always charge some expenses – such as time spent by school staff to support the application process and some overhead costs – to this account. There are many factors that may lead districts not to allocate some costs to that account. Since the last study in 1992-93 school districts are charging a higher proportion of these costs to the food service accounts.

Summary (PDF; 31 KB)
Executive Summary (PDF; 270 KB)
Full Report (PDF; 1.32 MB)

Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education School Year 2005-06 (Fiscal Year 2006)

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

The Common Core of Data (CCD) is an annual collection of public elementary and secondary education data administered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and its collection agent, the U.S. Census Bureau. Data for CCD surveys are provided by state education agencies (SEAs). This report presents findings on public education revenues and expenditures using fiscal year 2006 (FY 06) data from the National Public Education Financial Survey (NPEFS) of the CCD survey system. Programs covered in the NPEFS include regular, special, and vocational education; charter schools (if they reported data to the SEA); and state-run education programs (such as special education centers or education programs for incarcerated youth).

Full Report (PDF; 216 KB)

Public Schools in U.S. Spent $9,138 Per Student in 2006

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

From the news release:
School districts in the United States spent an average of $9,138 per student in fiscal year 2006, an increase of $437 from 2005, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released today.

Public Education Finances: 2006 offers a comprehensive look at the revenues and expenditures of public school districts at the national and state levels The report includes detailed tables that allow for the calculation of per pupil expenditures. Highlights from these tables include spending on instruction, support services, construction, salaries and benefits of the more than 15,000 school districts. Public school districts include elementary and secondary school systems.

Digest of Education Statistics, 2007

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

The 43rd in a series of publications initiated in 1962, the Digest’s primary purpose is to provide a compilation of statistical information covering the broad field of American education from prekindergarten through graduate school. The Digest contains data on a variety of topics, including the number of schools and colleges, teachers, enrollments, and graduates, in addition to educational attainment, finances, and federal funds for education, libraries, and international comparisons.

Source: NCES

The State of Preschool 2007

Source: National Institute for Early Education Research

From press release (Pew Charitable Trusts):

State-funded preschools served over one million children last year, yet public pre-K was unavailable for most 3- and 4-year-olds, according to the annual survey released today by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).

Funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, The State of Preschool 2007 ranks all 50 states on the percentage of children served and spending per child. It also compares the number of quality benchmarks each state meets for the 2006-2007 school year. The survey found that enrollment, quality and state spending per child increased.

Yet, 12 states offered no state-funded preschool education and others faltered in their commitment to the quality of their early education programs. The report showed that nationally less than half of all 4-year-olds were enrolled in government-supported preschool education programs and one quarter received no preschool. For 3-year-olds the situation was worse, with only 15 percent enrolled in public programs and 50 percent receiving no early education.

Children from wealthy families can attend expensive private preschools while the federal Head Start program and most state-funded preschool education is targeted at lower income families.

Full Report (PDF; 8.4 MB)

State Profiles (PDFs)

America’s Forgotten Middle-Skill Jobs – Education and Training Requirements in the Next Decade and Beyond

Source: Harry Holzer, Robert I. Lerman, Urban Institute, March 18, 2008

From the summary:
This paper analyzes data on recent employment and wage trends, as well as projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, to analyze the likely future demand for workers in “middle-skill” jobs – i.e., those requiring more than secondary school but less than a bachelor’s degree. Contrary to recent assertions that demand for middle-skill jobs will shrink dramatically (creating an “hourglass” or “dumbbell” labor market), we find that demand for such jobs will remain quite robust. The growth in supply of workers with these skills will also likely shrink as “Baby Boomers” retire and are replaced by immigrants. Thus, education and training programs that help less-educated workers gain these skills remain a worthwhile investment. Written for the Workforce Alliance, Washington D.C.

Investing in Early Education: Paths to Improving Children’s Success

Source: Ron Haskins, Brookings Institution, Testimony before the House Committee on Education and Labor, January 23, 2008

As members of this Committee know well, there is good evidence from scientific research that preschool education can be an effective tool in our nation’s long struggle to reduce the achievement gap between poor children and children from non-poor families. Reducing the achievement gap holds great promise for reducing poverty in the long term and even for reducing inequality. Having spent many years studying social intervention programs, I think it is fair to say that there is no body of evidence on any social intervention that holds as much promise of producing as wide a range of positive effects as high-quality preschool programs.

Head Start: A More Comprehensive Risk Management Strategy and Data Improvements Could Further Strengthen Program Oversight

Source: United States Government Accountability Office, GAO-08-221, February 12, 2008

In February 2005, GAO issued a report that raised concerns about the effectiveness of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF) oversight of about 1,600 local organizations that receive nearly $7 billion in Head Start grants. GAO was asked to report on (1) ACF’s progress in conducting a risk assessment of the Head Start program and ensuring the accuracy and reliability of data from its annual Program Information Report (PIR) survey of grantees, (2) efforts to improve on-site monitoring of grantees, and (3) how data are used to improve oversight and help grantees meet program standards. For this report, GAO surveyed a nationally representative sample of Head Start program directors and interviewed ACF officials. GAO also reviewed ACF studies on the validity of PIR data and conducted tests of data from the 2006 PIR database.

Projections of Education Statistics to 2016

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

This edition of Projections of Education Statistics provides projections for key education statistics, including enrollment, graduates, teachers, and expenditures in elementary and secondary schools. Included are national data on enrollment and graduates for the past 15 years and projections to the year 2016, as well as state-level data on enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools and public high school graduates to the year 2016.

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