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THE CONDITION OF EDUCATION: Report Notes Increases in Postsecondary School Degrees, English Language Learners, and Students Living in Poverty

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"Disparities in educational and other outcomes persist in the aggregate for male youth compared to their female peers in general, and for boys and young men of color in particular.”

The number of adults who earn postsecondary school degrees is increasing, according to a new report from the National Center for Education Statistics Institute for Education Sciences. The Condition of Education 2015, an annual report meant to inform members of Congress, offers up 300 pages of statistics gathered across forty-two key indicators of education trends for U.S. public and private K–12 schools, as well as higher education institutions, making it a valuable one-stop guide for those seeking information on education statistics.

According to the report, 34 percent of young adults ages 25 to 29 had a bachelor’s or higher degree in 2014, up from 23 percent in 1990. However, significant completion gaps exist between white students and students of color. As shown in the graph below, 41 percent of white individuals earned a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2014, compared to 22 percent for African Americans, and 15 percent of Latinos. The completion rate for American Indian/Alaska Native was lower in 2014 than it was in 1990.

Straight As Degree Graph“The United States has seen progress in many areas related to the education of its young people,” the report notes. “Despite these achievements, disparities in educational and other outcomes persist in the aggregate for male youth compared to their female peers in general, and for boys and young men of color in particular.”

Contributing to these factors is the rise in postsecondary education enrollment. In fall 2013, undergraduate enrollment at colleges and universities reached 17.5 million students, up from 12 million in 1990. Post-baccalaureate degree programs enrolled 2.9 million students that same year. This sector of higher educated young adults also faced a generally lower rate of unemployment than those who did not earn college degrees in 2014, according to the report.

New to the report this year are indicators that describe approaches to learning behaviors for first-time kindergartners, disparities in educational outcomes among male youth of color, and differences in postsecondary education degree completion by socioeconomic status. The inclusion of the socioeconomic indicator for postsecondary education attainment, for example, reveals that just 14 percent of students from low socioeconomic background received a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 29 percent for those in the middle tier and 60 percent in the high tier of economic status.

Relatedly, the report notes that the number of young people earning high school diplomas has also increased. The Condition of Education finds that 91 percent of young adults ages 25 to 29 earned a high school diploma or its equivalent in 2014, up from 86 percent in 1990. Latino students saw the greatest gain in attainment in this timeframe, increasing from 58 percent to 75 percent of students earning a high school diploma or its equivalent. Still, both Latino and African American students (at 92 percent) lag behind their white peers (at 96 percent) In addition, roughly 3.1 million (81 percent) of public high school students graduated on time with a regular diploma during School Year (SY) 2011–12.

Among its demographic information, the report finds that the number of English language learners enrolled in U.S. public schools continues to steadily climb and accounted for 9.2 percent of students for SY 2012–13. Additionally, the number of students living in poverty continues to increase. According to the report, 21 percent—approximately 15.6 million—of school-aged children lived in poverty in 2013, an increase from 15 percent in 2000.

Download The Condition of Education 2015 at http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2015/2015144.pdf.

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