May 21, 2022

New Data About U.S. Public Schools Released by National Center for Education Statistics

From the National Center for Education Statistics:

2017-08-22_10-54-21There were more than 90,000 public schools in the United States during the 2015-16 school year, serving nearly 49.3 million students in kindergarten through grade 12, according to a new report released today (Aug. 22). Nearly all of these schools had at least one student receiving special education services and about three-quarters offered instruction specifically for English language learners.

The National Center for Education Statistics released Characteristics of Public Elementary and Secondary Schools in the United States: Results From the 2015–16 National Teacher and Principal Survey.

The 2015–16 National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS) is a nationally representative sample survey of public K–12 schools, principals, and teachers in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

This First Look report provides tables containing descriptive information regarding public schools.

Key findings in the report include:

• During the 2015–16 school year, there were an estimated 90,400 K–12 public schools in the United States, including 83,500 traditional public and 6,900 public charter schools. These schools served nearly 49.3 million students, with about 46.2 million in traditional public schools and another 3 million in public charter schools;

• About 99 percent of public schools had at least one student with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) because of special needs. Additionally, 76 percent of public schools had instruction specifically designed to address the needs of English language learner (ELL) or limited English proficient (LEP) students;

• Nationwide, about 21 percent of public schools offered at least one course entirely online. This was more common among public charter schools (29 percent) than it was among traditional public schools (20 percent). Offering one or more classes that were entirely online was much more common among high (58 percent) or combined (64 percent) schools, and very small (45 percent) or very large (44 percent) schools than for all public schools (21 percent);

• Including full-time and part-time staff, public schools employed an estimated 124,420 school counselors, 66,320 psychologists, and 44,920 social workers. They also employed 96,440 speech therapists and 84,020 nurses, as well as 73,580 librarians/library media specialists and 80,920 instructional coordinators and supervisors; and

• The average start time for public schools was 8:10 am. Nationally, only about 4 percent of schools had start times before 7:30 am. This early start was more common among schools with 1,000 or more students (14 percent) than all public schools (4 percent). It was also substantially more common among high schools (10 percent) than among primary (2 percent), middle (7 percent), or combined (4 percent) schools.

Direct to Full Text Report
46 pages; PDF.

See Also: Characteristics of Private Schools in the U.S. (2015-16)

See Also: Characteristics of Public Elementary and Secondary School Principals in the United States: Results (2015–16)

See Also: Crime, Violence, Discipline, and Safety in U.S. Public Schools: Findings From the School Survey on Crime and Safety: 2015-16

See Also: The Characteristics of Public School Teachers in the U.S.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.