Federal Report Shows Enormous Leap in Number of Charter Schools and Online Learning

The Condition of Education, an annual federal report mandated by Congress, provides compelling evidence that the tapestry of public education in the U.S. is changing. On Thursday The National Center for Education Statistics released its 2012 report, which contains data  issued annually since 1975. The report is a compilation of information from the Center’s own statistical surveys, as well as other data sources, to provide a big-picture look at the condition of all areas of American education.

Some of the highlights in this year’s report include:

  • One change in public schools over the last decade has been the growth of charter school enrollment, which has quadrupled from 1999 to 2009. Charter schools accounted for 5 percent of all public schools in 2009, and over half were in cities, compared to one-quarter of traditional public schools;
  • One recent development has been a substantial increase in the number of enrollments in distance education courses by high school students – from 222,000 course enrollments in 2002 to 1.3 million in 2009. Over half of all school districts had high school students enrolled in distance education courses in 2009;
  • About 10 percent of elementary and secondary students were enrolled in private schools in 2009. Of these students, 39 percent were enrolled in Catholic schools;
  • In 2010, approximately 50 million students were enrolled in public schools. Of that number, 4.7 million were English language learners and 6.5 million received special education services;
  • Nationwide, about three-quarters of the 2005 incoming freshman class graduated from public high schools on time in 2009. Among the states, Wisconsin had the highest rate (91 percent) and Nevada had the lowest (66 percent);
  • There has been overall growth in college enrollment. Approximately 68 percent of students enroll in a two- or four-year college or university immediately after graduating from high school compared to 51 percent in 1975.
  • More than three-fourths of undergraduate students attended public two- and four-year institutions in 2010.
  • Those young adults who completed a bachelor’s degree and worked full-time for all of 2010, earned 22 percent more than those with an associate’s degree; 50 percent more than high school completers; and more than twice as much as those without a high school credential;
  • The percentage of high school graduates taking mathematics and science courses has generally increased. For example, twenty years ago 7 percent of graduates took calculus and 1 percent took statistics. By 2009, those numbers increased to 16 percent of graduates who had taken calculus and 11 percent had taken statistics.  Similarly, 49 percent of 1990 graduates had taken chemistry, compared to 70 percent in 2009;
  • Less crime and violence was reported in U.S. schools. Between 1992 and 2010, the rate of nonviolent crimes against students fell from 154 incidents per 1,000 students to 32. The rate of violent crimes against students fell from 53 to 14 per 1,000 students;
  • In addition, the percentage of high school students who work while they’re enrolled in high school decreased between 1990 and 2010 from 32 percent to 16 percent 

To access a full copy of The Condition of Education 2012, see http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2012/2012045.pdf