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REPORT CARD ON AMERICA'S SCHOOLS

REPORT CARD ON AMERICA’S SCHOOLS:
Public Opinion and National Data on Education

Report card graph



Opinions About Education

  • Nationwide, 26% of Americans would give public schools the grade of an “A” or “B.” However, 61% of parents give the schools in their own community an “A” or “B.” (Phi Delta Kappan, The 36th Annual Phi Delta Kappa Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Towards the Public Schools)
  • In 1973, 58% of Americans said they had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the public schools. Ten years later, in 1983, this figure dropped to 39%; it fell a little further to 36% in 1999. By 2003 it had only increased to 40 percent. (Public Agenda, Education Quick Takes, data from Gallup Organization, June 2003)
  • The public expects change in the public schools to come through reforming the existing system, not through seeking an alternative. Given the choice: 66% of the public chose to reform the existing system while 26% opt for seeking an alternative. (The 36 th Annual Phi Delta Kappa Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Towards the Public Schools)
  • Nine out of 10 Americans think that it is very important to insure that a really good teacher is in every classroom. And 71% of the public believes that teachers should be paid more than they are today. (The Teaching Commission, Americans' Commitment to Quality Teaching in Public Schools, April 2005)
  • The public believes that the quality of a student's teacher is the most important factor in determining student achievement (45%), ahead of parental involvement (29%), facilities and resources (12%), or the quality of the principal (3%). (The Teaching Commission, Americans' Commitment to Quality Teaching in Public Schools, April 2005)
  • More than 80% of Americans say the push to raise academic standards is a "move in the right direction" and nearly half the parents (47%) say the standards in their state are not tough enough. (The Business Roundtable, Making Standards Work: Public Attitudes About Standards and Testing, December 2000)
  • Over eight in 10 people believe testing is not only a useful way for schools to evaluate student performance but also a useful way for parents and the community to evaluate schools. Yet the public is also aware of the shortcomings of standardized testing; the majority (80%) of the public feels that some students perform poorly even when they know the material. In addition to statewide test scores, Americans prefer a variety of methods that assess student performance including grades, teacher evaluations and attendance. (The Business Roundtable, Making Standards Work: Public Attitudes About Standards and Testing, December 2000)

General Facts

  • There are over 47.7 million children in 91,000 public schools across the country. (NCES, Overview of Public Elementary and Secondary Schools and Districts: School Year 2001-2002)
  • Rising immigration rates and increasing numbers of annual births from parents in the baby boom generation are boosting school enrollment. The total immigrant population nearly tripled from 1970 to 2000 and the baby boom echo – the 25% increase in the number of annual births that began in the mid-1970s – peaked in 1990. (NCES, The Condition of Education, Participation in Education: Elementary/Secondary Education, 2004.)
  • There are nearly three million public school teachers for grades K-12 in the 2001-02 school year. (NCES, Public School Student, Staff and Graduate Counts by State: School Year 2001-2002, table 10, public school student membership and total teachers by state, school years 1991-92 and 2001-2002.)
  • Nearly $420 billion funded public elementary and secondary education for the 2001-02 school year. Per pupil spending averaged $7,734, though actual amounts vary by state. (NCES, Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: School Year 2001-02, June 2003.)

Elementary and Middle School Performance

  • Just under one third of American fourth and eighth graders nationwide show solid academic "proficiency" in reading and math. Proficiency represents demonstrated competency, application in real-world situations, and relevant analytical skills.(National Assessment of Educational Progress, The Nation's Report Card: Reading Highlights, 2003; National Assessment of Educational Progress, The Nation's Report Card: Mathematics Highlights, 2003)
  • In reading, 38% of fourth grade students in America scored in the lowest level – "below basic" – indicating that these students do not even have partial mastery of the fundamental skills and knowledge to perform proficiently in reading. (National Assessment of Educational Progress, The Nation's Report Card: Reading Highlights, 2003)
  • In math, nearly one quarter (24%) of the fourth graders and one third (33%) of the eighth graders nationwide are below the basic level of competency. (National Assessment of Educational Progress, The Nation's Report Card: Mathematics Highlights, 2003)
  • On international comparisons in math, American fourth graders scored lower than 11 other countries and American eighth graders scored lower than 14 other countries. (International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, 2003)

Achievement Gap

  • The average reading score of a 17-year-old African American is similar to that of white 13-year-olds.(NCES, The Condition of Education, Trends in the Achievement Gap in Reading Between White and Black Students, 2001)
  • In reading, 12% of African American fourth graders are "proficient"; among Hispanics that figure is 14%; whereas 39% of white fourth graders are "proficient".(National Assessment of Educational Progress, The Nation's Report Card: Reading Highlights,2003)
  • Students that score in the "below basic" category do not even have partial mastery of the fundamental skills and knowledge to perform proficiently in reading. Among African American fourth graders 61% are "below basic" in reading and among Hispanics that figure is 57%; in contrast, 26% of white fourth graders are "below basic".(National Assessment of Educational Progress, The Nation's Report Card: Reading Highlights,2003)
  • The high school graduation rate for students of all races was 86.5% in 2000; for Hispanic students the high school completion rate was 64.1%. ( U.S. Department of Education, NCES, Education Statistics Quarterly, Vol.3, Issue 4, Dropout Rates in the United States: 2000)

High School Performance

  • In math and science, 15-year-old American students scored below average when compared to their peers in other counties. In reading, American scores were average.(Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), table 2, average combined mathematics literacy scores and subscale scores of 15-year-old students by country: 2003, and figure 9, average reading literacy and science literacy scores of 15-year-old students in OECD countries and the United States: 2003.).
  • The drop out rate is not necessarily a low-income issue; middle income students made up 61.1% of dropouts from grades 10-12 in 2000.( U.S. Department of Education, NCES, Education Statistics Quarterly, Vol.3, Issue 4, Dropout Rates in the United States: 2000)
  • Only one quarter (23%) of high school students describe their classes as challenging, although 67% of secondary school principals and 48% of teachers think the classes are a challenge. (Metropolitan Life, The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, 2001)
  • Most high schools students (75%) do not think their teachers have high expectations of them. These students are not far off in their assessment of the situation. Slightly more than one third (39%) of secondary school teachers and just over half (56%) of secondary school principals believe they hold high expectations for all students. (Metropolitan Life, The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, 2001)
  • In 1982, approximately 42% of high school students were on an academic track and 23% took a vocational track; by 1998, 71% of students were on an academic track and only 4% were on the vocational track. (Hoxby, Caroline, M. "What Has Changed And What Has Not, in Our Schools and Our Future …Are We still at Risk, Koret Task Force on K-12 Education, 2003, p.75.).
  • Only 2% of high school students met the standards for graduation in 1982 set forth by A Nation At Risk: at least four years of English, three years of math, three years of science, three years of history (and/or social studies), half a year of computer science, and two years of a foreign language. In 1998, 29% of graduates had met all of the requirements. (Hoxby, Caroline, M. "What Has Changed And What Has Not, in Our Schools and Our Future …Are We still at Risk, Koret Task Force on K-12 Education, 2003, p.78-79.).
  • The rate of high school students taking calculus, an advanced level course, increased from 6.6% in 1982 to 17.7% in 1998. The number of students taking trigonometry increased from 14.2% to 32% during the same period of time. (Hoxby, Caroline, M. "What Has Changed And What Has Not, in Our Schools and Our Future …Are We still at Risk, Koret Task Force on K-12 Education, 2003, p.82-83.).
  • From 1982 to 2004, the verbal score on the SAT college entrance exam increased by 4 points; the math score increased 25 points. (College Entrance Examination Board, College Bound Seniors, 2004)

After High School

  • Employers estimate that 39% of recent high school graduates are unprepared for the expectations that they face in entry-level jobs. High school graduates agree: the same percentage (39%) of recent high school graduates in the workforce say they had gaps in their preparation. Employers also claim that almost half (45%) of recent workforce entrants are not adequately prepared to advance beyond entry-level jobs. (Achieve, Rising to the Challenge: Are High School Graduates Prepared for College and Work? 2005)
  • College instructors estimate that 42% of college students are not adequately prepared for the demands of college by the education they received in high school; 39% of recent high school graduates enrolled in college say there are gaps in their preparation. (Achieve, Rising to the Challenge: Are High School Graduates Prepared for College and Work? 2005)
  • Approximately 40-43% of Americans in the labor force scored in the two lowest levels of proficiency in literacy.(U.S. Department of Education, Literacy in the Labor Force: Results from the National Adult Literacy Survey, 1999)

Accountability

  • State-wide standards based testing programs did not exist in 1983 when A Nation At Risk was released. (Hill, Paul T., Guin, Kacey, and Celio, Mary Beth, "Minority Children at Risk", in Our Schools and Our Future …Are We still at Risk, Koret Task Force on K-12 Education, 2003, p.118.).
  • By 2001, just over 88% of the states had developed tests aligned to the state curriculum at the secondary school level that measure proficiency in English/language arts and math. For science and history/social studies the percentage is lower: 47.1% of states have science tests and 39.2% have history/social studies tests aligned to the state curriculum at the secondary school levels. (Hoxby, Caroline, M. "What Has Changed And What Has Not, in Our Schools and Our Future …Are We still at Risk, Koret Task Force on K-12 Education, 2003, table 2, p.86.).
  • By 2001, 15 of 50 states have a minimum competency test for graduating high school; 16 are planning to implement one in the future; and 20 states have no minimum competency test for graduation. (U.S. Dept of Education, Digest of Education Statistics: 2002, table. 152, state requirements for high school graduation in Carnegie Units, 2001).

Spending

  • The U.S. had higher per capita public spending on elementary and secondary education than 14 of the 21 countries that participated in the 1995 TIMSS, yet on average, American performance resembled that of the less affluent nations with lower GNPs per capita and lower per capita expenditures on K-12 education. (The Center for Education Reform, The American Education Diet: Can U.S. Students Survive on Junk Food? 2001)
  • The estimated cost of remedial education to American colleges and universities is at around $1 billion annually. (Saxon, D. P. & Boylan, H. R., (1999), Research and issues regarding the cost of remedial education in higher education, National Center for Developmental Education, Prepared for The League for Innovation in the Community College.)
  • In 1982, per-pupil spending was $5,930; it rose 60% by 2000 to $9,230 (inflation-adjusted). The reduction in student-teacher ratio from 18.6 in 1982 to 15 in 1999 accounts for the greatest proportion of this increase in spending.(Hoxby, Caroline, M. "What Has Changed And What Has Not, in Our Schools and Our Future …Are We still at Risk, Koret Task Force on K-12 Education, 2003, p.101,103.).

Teachers

  • The number of teachers with a master degree increased slightly from 31% in 1982 to 39% in 2001; however, the percentage of teachers with a baccalaureate dropped slightly from 94% in 1982 to 90% in 2001. (Hoxby, Caroline, M. "What Has Changed And What Has Not, in Our Schools and Our Future …Are We still at Risk, Koret Task Force on K-12 Education, 2003, p.93)
  • The average salary for public school teachers is $44,367; the low in America's largest cities is $25,409 and the high is $84,310. (American Federation of Teachers, Survey and Analysis of Teacher Salary Trends, 2002.)
  • Less than 1% of teacher pay in 1982 was associated with performance; by 2001 that figure had not changed. Teacher's pay is often based on seniority and level of educational attainment, rather than performance. (Hoxby, Caroline, M. "What Has Changed And What Has Not, in Our Schools and Our Future …Are We still at Risk, Koret Task Force on K-12 Education, 2003, p.96)


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