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The condition of education.

THE CONDITION OF EDUCATION. The National Center for Education Statistics has published a report presenting 60 indicators that measure the soundness of education, monitor important developments in the field, and reveal trends in major aspects of education. Among the issues the report deals with are (1) the relationship of family background to educational outcomes and opportunities, (2) the characteristics of public elementary and secondary schools in different areas, and (3) trends in the cost of higher education. Following are some conclusions:

Family background. Comparisons by level of family income and by level of education of parents indicate a strong relationship between family background and educational achievement. In particular:

* Children from low-income families progress more slowly through the elementary grades than other children do. In 1991, the difference between the percentage of children from low- and high-income families who were above the typical age for their grade ranged from 9 percent in first grade to 19 percent in fourth grade to 30 percent in seventh grade.

* A higher percentage of high school students from low-income families drops out of school each year than do students from high-income families. Between October 1990 and October 1991, the percentages were 11 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

* When students from low-income families leave the education system, they do not in general make a smooth transition to the work force. Forty-nine percent of non-college-bound high school graduates from low-income families became employed shortly after graduating, as opposed to 73 percent from high-income families.

* Students whose parents are not high school graduates spend less time doing homework and more time watching television than do students whose parents are college graduates. For 17-year-olds, 56 percent of the former group versus 72 percent of the latter did at least 1 hour of homework per day, while 62 percent of the former versus 40 percent of the latter watched at least 3 hours of television each day.

* High school students whose parents have not completed high school have lower academic achievement, on average, than do high school students whose parents have completed at least some college. This is reflected across the board in scores on reading, mathematics, science, and writing proficiency tests.

Characteristics of public schools. In some ways, public schools are very different from each other. This is particularly apparent when the achievement of students is compared across disadvantaged and advantaged urban commmunities or when the racial or ethnic mix of students is compared across parts of metropolitan areas. In other ways, public schools are very similar. This is the case in regard to courses taken during high school and when comparing teachers' salaries across types of communities. Highlights pertaining to this issue are as follows:

* The average achievement of students varies considerably across schools. For example, the average writing achievement of 11th-grade students in advantaged urban schools is significantly higher than that of 11th-grade students in disadvantaged urban schools. This is a reflection of many factors, including family background, conditions in the community, type and quantity of educational resources available, and how these resources are used.

* High school students take remarkably similar courses across schools in different settings. Especially in mathematics and science, courses taken among 1990 graduates of high schools in big cities, the suburbs, medium-sized cities, and small places were generally the same.

* The racial and ethnic mix of students differs across different types of communities. In 1991, the percentage of students who were black or Hispanic was 53 percent in the central city of metropolitan areas, 20 percent in the suburbs of metropolitan areas, and 16 percent outside metropolitan areas.

* The influence of teachers over important school policies and classroom decisions differs little across schools in central cities, towns, and rural areas. In contrast, school boards appear to be more influential and principals less influential in central cities than in any other type of community.

* Teachers' salaries vary with both the type of school and the type of community. Average salaries of teachers are much higher in public schools than in private schools. Within public schools, salaries of inexperienced teachers vary moderately, while salaries of experienced teachers exhibit somewhat more variation.

The cost of higher education. Between 1980 and 1991, charges for tuition and for room and board at colleges increased dramatically. Some of the cost, however, was offset by financial aid, which also increased between 1986-87 and 1989-90.

* Among full-time undergraduates enrolled in the fall of 1989, 56 percent received financial aid. The average amount of aid per student, available from Federal, State, and institutional sources, was $4,905.

* In 1989-90, among full-time dependent undergraduates, 27 percent of the total cost of college was covered by financial aid. For these students, the average total cost was $8,444. After deducting financial aid, the average cost was $6,286.

THE REPORT, The Condition of Education: 1993, may be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), Washington, DC 20402-9328. Stock number and price can be obtained from the Order and Information Desk, 202-783-3238.
COPYRIGHT 1993 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:National Center for Education Statistics report
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Oct 1, 1993
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