NCES recently released the 2020 edition of the Digest of Education Statistics, the 56th in a series of publications initiated in 1962. The Digest—which provides a centralized location for a wide range of statistical information covering early childhood through adult education—tells the story of American education through data. Digest tables are the foundation of many NCES reports, including the congressionally mandated Condition of Education, which contains key indicators that describe and visualize important developments and trends.
A helpful feature of the Digest is its ability to provide long-term trend data. Several tables include data that were collected more than 50—or even 100—years ago:
- Poverty status of all persons, persons in families, and related children under age 18, by race/ethnicity: Selected years, 1960 through 2019 (table 102.50)
- Percentage of the population 3 to 34 years old enrolled in school, by age group: Selected years, 1940 through 2019 (table 103.20)
- Rates of high school completion and bachelor’s degree attainment among persons age 25 and over, by race/ethnicity and sex: Selected years, 1910 through 2020 (table 104.10)
- Historical summary of faculty, enrollment, degrees conferred, and finances in degree-granting postsecondary institutions: Selected years, 1869-70 through 2018-19 (table 301.20)
- Federal support and estimated federal tax expenditures for education, by category: Selected fiscal years, 1965 through 2019 (table 401.10)
The Digest is organized into seven chapters: All Levels of Education, Elementary and Secondary Education, Postsecondary Education, Federal Funds for Education and Related Activities, Outcomes of Education, International Comparisons of Education, and Libraries and Use of Technology.
In addition to providing updated versions of many statistics that have appeared in previous years, this edition also includes several new tables, many of which highlight data related to the coronavirus pandemic:
- Percentage of adults with children in the household who reported their child’s classes were moved to a distance learning format using online resources in selected periods during April through December 2020, by selected adult and household characteristics (table 218.80)
- Percentage of adults with children in the household who reported that computers and internet access were always or usually available for educational purposes in their household in selected periods during April through December 2020, by selected adult and household characteristics (table 218.85)
- Percentage of adults with children in the household who reported that computers or digital devices and internet access were provided by their child’s schools or districts in selected periods during April through December 2020, by selected adult and household characteristics (table 218.90)
- Number of school shootings at public and private elementary and secondary schools between 2000-01 and 2019-20, by location and time period (table 228.14)
- Percentage of adults who reported changes to household members’ fall postsecondary plans in August 2020, by level of postsecondary education planned and selected respondent characteristics (table 302.80)
- Percentage of adults with at least one household member’s fall attendance plans cancelled who reported on reasons for changes in plans in August 2020, by level of postsecondary education planned and selected respondent characteristics (table 302.85)
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