The Condition of Education 2011


Condition of Education cover imageThis latest portrait of American education from the
National Center for Education Statistics is, as usual, dense with useful
information. Perhaps most interesting are the large shifts on the school-choice
front, with charter enrollment ballooning and private-school enrollment losing
air. Over the past decade, the number of public charter-school pupils more than
quadrupled—from 340,000 students in 1999-2000 to 1.4 million students in
2008-09. At the same time, private-school enrollment has deflated. While these
schools taught 6.3 million students in 2001-02, private schools educated 5.5 million
youngsters in 2009-10—a 13 percent decrease. Intriguingly, the pattern varied
by school type. While enrollment in independent and secular private schools
remained constant, religious schools saw sharp declines. Catholic schools were,
once again, hit the hardest. Some other findings come as no shock (though maybe
they should): Total per-pupil expenditures rose by 39 percent (in constant
dollars) from 1989-90 to 2007-08, for example. On the good-news front, drop-out
rates have declined for whites, blacks, and Hispanics over the past thirty
years. Along with its parsed K-12 data, this year’s edition focuses on
postsecondary education, documenting significant increases in total college
enrollment and degrees as well as a bump in for-profit postsecondary enrollment
(from 3 percent in 2000-01 to 9 percent today). In total, higher-education
enrollment now trumps that of high schools: The nation boasted 17.6 million
undergraduates in the fall of 2009 (and 2.9 million postbac students) and 15
million high schoolers (in 2008-09). Choose a preferred topic, dive in, and get
a little nerdy.

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Susan Aud, William Hussar, Grace Kena, Kevin
Bianco, Lauren Frohlich, Jana Kemp, Kim Tahan, Katie Mallory, Thomas Nachazel,
and Gretchen Hannes, “The Condition of
Education 2011
,” (Washington, D.C.: National Center for Education
Statistics, May 2011).