National Center for Education Statistics
At nearly 350 pages, this year's Condition of Education is shorter than last year's. And though some persistent problems remain (dropout numbers, for example, are still murky, and the data are frequently two years old, or more), NCES Commissioner Mark Schneider and his crew continue to refine and improve this hallmark report. The 2007 edition contains a special section on high school course taking, including an in-depth look at the explosion in students taking AP courses. Their number doubled between 1997 and 2005, with the greatest gains made by Hispanics (up 213 percent) and blacks (up 177 percent). On the down side, while white and Asian scores on AP tests remained fairly constant over those years (hovering around 3 out of a possible 5), Hispanic scores fell from 3.1 in 1997 to 2.5 in 2005. (Are schools forcing more students into AP classes than are able to do the work, or are there too few good teachers to teach them? Or both?) Other information that caught this reviewer's eye:
- The amount of time spent on homework by high school sophomores reportedly rose between 1980 and 2002, and so, too, did the percentage of students coming to school without their homework completed.
- Overall spending per child is up, with most of the new money going to capital outlays and interest (which makes some sense, because the student population is projected to rise every year from now to 2016).
- Among private-school attendees (roughly 10 percent of K-12 students), Catholic schools still attract the most students, though their numbers have been shrinking as "Christian" schools are growing.
There's much more of note, of course, so you should download a copy for yourself. Get it here.