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31 Important National Education Statistics

by Branka Vuleta

Welcome to the list of 31 national education statistics, and some commonly asked questions about education.

The lack of teachers caused by insufficient funding, as well as the ongoing epidemic of bullying, are just some of the issues that education systems around the world are trying to solve—with little success, however. 

That is the reason why there are very few topics more important than this one; education is what shapes our youth, which in turn shapes our future. Through the numbers, statistics, and data, we will learn what is right and what is wrong with the education system in the US.

Enjoy your reading.

10 Key National Education Statistics and Facts

  • The total number of K–12 schools in the US is 132,853.
  • 98,300 of schools in the US are public.
  • 10% of the public schools’ budget is government-funded, while the rest comes from the state and local funding.
  • The average American family spends more than $120 on notebooks, pencils, and similar necessities, every year.
  • 56.5 million students will attend public and private elementary and secondary schools this fall.
  • 3.7 million public and 0.5 million private school teachers will navigate them through the year.
  • The New York City school district will have 1.1 million students this fall.
  • There are over 7,000 charter schools in the US.
  • Massachusetts is the leading state when it comes to education.
  • 79% of public schools report at least one incident (violence, theft, bullying, etc.) during the school year.

General USA Educational Statistics

national education statistics - studying

1. There are 132,853 K–12 schools in the US.

(Education Week)

There are more than 130,000 schools in America, which range from kindergarten to 12th grade. This number includes elementary schools (88,665), secondary schools (26,986), combined schools (16,511), and other (691).

2. The US government contributes about 10 cents to every dollar spent on K–12 education.

(PBS)

State and local government funding cover more than 90% of public elementary and secondary school expenditures. The funding for public schools in the USA mostly comes from taxes, which means that American parents whose children attend these schools do not have to worry about paying tuition. However, there can be additional costs for things like uniforms, transport, and school supplies. 

3. Families with school children spent $27.5 billion preparing for the 2018 school year.

(John Locke Foundation)

US education statistics from 2018 show that the average American household with elementary, middle, or high school children spent $685 preparing their children for the new school year. The majority of the funds were directed towards buying new clothes, while an average of $122.13 was spent on school supplies such as notebooks, pencils, and backpacks.

4. The number of students expected to attend public and private elementary and secondary schools this year is 56.5 million.

(National Center for Education Statistics)

90% of all students in the 2019/20 school year are expected to attend public schools. When it comes to the student demographics, the following numbers are related to both public and private elementary and secondary schools

23.7 million of K–12 students this year are Caucasian, 13.9 million are Hispanic, 7.7 million students are African American, 2.7 million are of Asian descent, as the National Center for Education Statistics 2019 lists.

5. New York City is the largest school district in the US.

(Education Week, NYC Department of Education)

With 1.1 million students expected to attend one of the 1,800 New York City schools, this is the largest school district in the country. It is followed by Los Angeles Unified, Chicago, and Miami-Dade County districts.

6. The US is expected to reach a 90% graduation rate by next year.

(America’s Promise Alliance)

Even though some of the US states, as you will read about it below, already exceed this rate, the entire country is expected to reach the high school graduation rate of 90% by 2020. The expectation was set in 2015, and, according to the new digest of education statistics, the goal is attainable.

7. Around 3.4% of students are homeschooled.

(Education Week, US Department of Education)

The number of homeschooled students in America doubled between 1999 and 2012. Currently, there are more than 1.77 million students who are being homeschooled.

Some of the most common reasons behind parents’ decision to homeschool their children are the concern about the school environment, a desire to provide moral instruction, and dissatisfaction with the academic program.

Public School Statistics

national education statistics - university

8. There were 98,300 public schools in the US for the 2018/2019 school year.

(Education Data)

According to last year’s public school enrollment data, 50.7 million students were enrolled in public schools, 35.6 million students in K–8 schools, and 15.1 million students were in 9th–12th grades. The students were spread across 98,300 public schools, in roughly 13,600 school districts across the nation.

9. The average public school enrolls 528 students per year.

(Education Week)

The average public school in the US enrolls 528 students in one year. National education statistics specify that the number of enrolled students depends on the school’s location. Public schools located in a city receive 591 new students every year, suburban ones get 656, those located in a town enroll 444 students, while rural schools welcome 358 of them.

10. In fall 2019, public school enrollment is expected to be slightly higher than the 50.7 million students enrolled in fall 2018.

(National Center for Education Statistics)

The National Center for Education Statistics 2018 report tells us that the record was set last year, with the highest enrollment ever reported for public schools. The record is expected to be broken this year, as experts predict a 2% increase. That means that 51.4 million students will be attending public schools this fall.

11. Charter school enrollment rose between 2000 and 2015 by an average of 5% nationwide.

(National Center for Education Statistics)

The National Center for Education transcripts show that the popularity of charter schools has been increasing in the last two decades: 

In 2000, only 1% of all public school students’ parents opted to choose a public school for their children, while in 2015, the number was increased to 6%. That means that in 2015, 2.8 million students were attending charter schools, experiencing the benefits they provide. These benefits include grouping students by ability rather than age, which allows high-achieving students to thrive.

12. There were more than 7,000 charter schools in 2017/18.

(Public Charter Schools)

One of the positive facts about education in America is the investment in talented students. More than 300 new public charter schools were opened in 2017, enrolling around 3.2 million students. Currently, 18 US states, including the District of Columbia, have over 100, while 9 states have between 50 and 99 charter schools.

13. There are 3.7 million full-time teachers in the US.

(National Center for Education Statistics)

Predictions for this fall show that there will be 3.7 million full-time teachers in public schools. The number of full-time teachers in private schools is expected to be around 0.5 million.

14. 76.6% of public school teachers are female, while 23.4% are male.

(Education Week, Education Week)

Teaching has always been a female-dominated calling:

Almost 40 years ago, during the 1980/81 school year, 67% of public school teachers were women. The percentage kept increasing; by 2015/16 school year, the share of female teachers had grown to 76%. In 2017, 77% of teachers were female, and this number still stands for the 2019/20 school year.

Education Statistics by State: the Top 5 States for Education

national education statistics - books

15. Massachusetts is the top state for education; 87.5% of children in the state graduate from high school.

(USA Today)

Statistically speaking, Massachusetts has the best schools in the US. K–12 student success in Massachusetts is better than in any other state. More than 50% of 8th graders in Massachusetts are accomplished in math, while 42.7% of adults in the state hold a bachelor’s degree.

16. New Jersey is the second-best state for education; the high school graduation rate is 90.1%.

(USA Today)

United States education statistics point out that New Jersey’s 4th-grade and 8th-grade students are among the top 10 in NAEP math and reading proficiency. Additionally, 16.3% of New Jersey eighth graders are advanced in math, which is the second-highest rate in America. 38.6% of adults have a bachelor’s degree.

17. Vermont is the third-best state for education; the high school graduation rate is 87.7%. 

(USA Today)

Vermont public schools spend more than $20,000 per student in a year, which is the highest rate in the US. What makes this state one of the best in the country is the fact that over 42% of 8th-grade students are proficient in math and reading. When it comes to adults, USA educational statistics show that 36.4% of them have a bachelor’s degree.

18. New Hampshire is the fourth-best state for education; high school graduation rate is 88.2%.

(USA Today, Forbes)

According to Forbes, public school students’ performance on standardized tests is among the best in the country, which gives New Hampshire one of the top spots on the list of the best states to live in. NAEP proficiency among 8th-grade students is 46.3% for math, and 45% for reading. 36.6% of New Hampshire adults have graduated with a bachelor’s degree, as stats about education show.

19. Connecticut is the fifth-best state for education; the high school graduation rate is 87.4%.

(USA Today)

Even though their NAEP math proficiency, at 36.1%, is lower than in other states listed, Connecticut students are supported by the strong preschool programs, which enables them to become more successful later in life. 38.6% of adults in the state have a bachelor’s degree.

American Education Statistics Compared to Other Countries

national education statistics - classroom

20. In 2015, Norway was the only country investing more per student than the US.

(National Center for Education Statistics)

In 2015, the US spent $12,800 per public school student. During that time, Norway was spending $15,100. The top 5 list also included Belgium, the Republic of Korea, and Iceland, which all spent at least $11,600 per student during the year. When it comes to the US education expenditure, not much has changed since.

21. On average, the US spends $12,800 a year per student.

(National Center for Education Statistics)

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that the US spends 35% more money per student than the average country. In order to educate a pupil from primary through tertiary education, the average OECD country spends $9,500. While the US spends more per student, this does not translate into better performance.

22. The US has had one of the biggest drops in teacher job satisfaction among G20 countries.

(National Center for Education Statistics, ScienceDirect)

Older data show that the number of 4th-grade students who are taught by “very satisfied” reading teachers is at a staggeringly low 26%. More recent data indicate that US teachers over the age of 41 show the lowest job satisfaction averages, while the US educational statistics indicate that those aged 36–40 enjoy their jobs more.

23. US teachers have a 37% higher starting salary compared to other countries.

(Washington Post)

Teachers in the US earn an average of $42,500, while the OECD average is $31,000. However, compared to professionals with similar education who work in other fields, US teachers earn just 60% of the average salary.

24. 10 countries outscore the US in 4th-grade mathematics.

(National Center for Education Statistics)

National education stats show that the US ranks 11th when it comes to 4th-grade mathematics. This figure is derived from the international comparative assessment (TIMSS) that took place in 2017. Poland, Finland, and Kazakhstan are just some of the countries that were ranked higher than the US. Singaporean students were at the top of all charts, closely followed by students from the Republic of Korea.

National Center for Education Statistics on Bullying

national education statistics - book

25. 20% of school students reported being bullied on school property in the last year.

(National Center for Education Statistics)

Bullying is one of the biggest public school issues. Around 12% of all public schools in the US report at least one incident per week. The real numbers can only be more severe, as a large percentage of these incidents is swept under the rug.

26. 79% of public schools report at least one incident during the school year.

(CDC)

Violent acts, theft, and other incidents are common in US public schools. Education statistics in America are frightening, with 79% of schools experiencing one or more incidents during the school year. What is even more concerning is the fact that 1 in 20 students say they have seen a student with a gun at school.

27. 33% of students who experience bullying are bullied at least once a month.

(National Center for Education Statistics)

A third of all students who reported bullying in 2016 were attacked at least once per month during the school year. 13% of them reported being ridiculed, called names, or insulted, 12% had rumors spread about them, 5% were physically attacked, and 5% were left out of activities by their peers.

28. 23% of female students report being bullied at school.

(National Center for Education Statistics)

NCES data from 2016 show that female students are more likely to be bullied than male students. 23% of female students report this negative experience, while 19% of male students do the same. However, male students are more likely to be bullied physically.

29. 60% of students report being bullied.

(National Center for Education Statistics)

A quarter of all African American students, more than a fifth of Caucasian students, 17% of Hispanic, and 9% of Asian students have been bullied at school due to their race, sexual orientation, physical appearance, or religion. Disabled students worry more about being abused by their schoolmates compared to their peers without a disability, National Center for Education Statistics from 2017 show.

30. 15.5% of high school students experience cyberbullying, while 24% of middle schoolers are cyberbullied.

(National Center for Educational Statistics)

A common form of cyberbullying is sharing students’ private photos or videos without their consent. This form of bullying is more dangerous and often takes place off school grounds, so it is more difficult for teachers to detect and address. More than a third of students (34%) report experiencing cyberbullying. National education stats record that 60% of those who experience cyberbullying reported that it negatively affected their school performance and mental health.

31. Children are also likely to be targeted by a teacher.

(National Center for Education Statistics)

Students can also be targeted by teachers. This especially applies to students with attention disorders, such as ADD, and antisocial tendencies. Statistically speaking, middle and secondary school students are less likely to be bullied by teachers. However, 93% of those in high schools and colleges are able to name a teacher who has bullied them.

FAQ

What are educational statistics?

The principal agency of the US Federal Statistical System publishes educational statistics for every school year. We have taken the data from their, and similar reports, and chosen the most important and interesting figures that showcase the state of our national education. These numbers bring additional benefit. Aside from being useful and informative, such information is also entertaining to read through. 

What percentage of Americans go to college?

(VOA)

Around 20 million Americans will start college this fall. Just under 15 million students will enroll in public universities, while just over 5 million will choose the private, more expensive and, arguably, more prestigious option. College enrollment is increasing in the US; from 2000/2010, it has increased by 37%. According to college student statistics, more than 33% of Americans older than 25 have a college degree.

How many teachers are there in the US 2018?

We mentioned this number in one of the previous sections, but we will repeat it in case you missed it. The number of teachers in the US for the 2019/20 school year is estimated at 4.2 million. The majority of them, or 3.7 million are full-time teachers working in public schools across the country, while the rest, or 0.5 million, work in private schools. These numbers include just full-time teachers.

How many schools are in the US 2018?

This is another question that was answered in the text, however, it needs to be reiterated. There are 132,853 schools in the US. The majority of them, or 88,665 are elementary schools. Secondary schools are the second largest type, with 29,986 of them located across the US. Combined and other schools make the rest of the number. 98,300 schools in the US are publicly owned and funded.

How can the US education system be improved?

As evident from the text above, there are the good, the bad, and the ugly side of American education. The question of improving it is a complex topic, and it probably deserves a few articles of its own. However, some general ideas that experts in the education field suggest include the following:

  • Acknowledging and solving overcrowding.
  • Increased funding.
  • Addressing the issue known as the school-to-prison pipeline, where up to 60% of high school dropouts end up in prison.
  • Create a more student-centered curriculum.
  • Ensure that those not qualified for the role cannot become teachers.

Conclusion

The national education statistics listed above represent a huge duality between pride and shame. We should be proud of our nation, as it educates millions of young people every year and prepares them for the future. However, we should be ashamed of the fact that a divide between races, genders, and sexual orientation exists even among those too young to tie their own shoelaces. Improving education, in every possible way, is the only way that we can erase that divide.

Sources:

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