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The Condition Of Education 2003
With the creation of the original Department of Education in 1867,
Congress declared that it should "gather statistics and facts on the
condition and progress of education in the United States and Territories."
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) currently responds to
this mission for the Department of Education through such publications as
The Condition of Education, a mandated report submitted to Congress on June
1st each year. Recognizing that reliable data are critical in guiding
efforts to improve education in America, The Condition of Education 2003
presents indicators of important developments and trends in American
Key Points from the Report
Participation in Education
- At the postsecondary level, both population growth and increasing
enrollment rates help explain rising enrollments.
- Adult education is also increasing due to the influence of both
demographic shifts in the age of the U.S. population and increasing rates of
enrollment, as influenced by changing employer requirements for skills.
- In a change from the enrollment patterns of the 1980s and 1990s,
undergraduate enrollment in the current decade is projected to increase
faster in 4-year institutions than in 2-year institutions. Women's
undergraduate enrollment is expected to continue increasing at a faster rate
- 2% of undergraduate students were foreign students with visas and 5%
were foreign-born permanent residents, compared with 9% and 3%,
respectively, of graduate and first-professional students in 1999-2000.
- The percentage of persons 16 and above participating in adult
education - including basic skills instruction, apprenticeships,
work-related courses, personal interest courses, English as a Second
Language (ESL) classes, and college or university credential programs -
increased from 1991 to 2001. Work-related courses and personal interest
courses were the most popular forms of adult education in 2001.
Student Effort and Educational Progress
- Since 1972, status dropout rates for Whites and Blacks ages 16-24
have declined, but they have remained relatively stable since the early
1990s. The rates for Hispanic youths have not decreased and remain higher
than the rates for other racial/ethnic groups.
- Since 1983, immediate college enrollment rates have increased faster
for Blacks than Whites, narrowing the gap between the two groups. During the
1980s and 1990s, White immediate college enrollment rates increased, but
Hispanic rates remained stagnant, widening the gap between Hispanics and
- On average, first-time recipients of bachelor's degrees in 1999-2000
who did not leave college temporarily for 6 months or more took 55 months to
complete a degree. Those who attended only one institution took less time on
average (51 months) to complete a degree than those who attended multiple
- Among students who sough a bachelor's degree and began their
postsecondary studies at a 4-year institution in 1995-96, just over half
graduated from that institution within 6 years. Others in this group
transferred and earned a degree elsewhere, making the cohort's 6-year rate
of attaining a bachelor's degree higher (63%).
- The transfer rates of community college students are related to their
initial degree goals. Among undergraduates starting at a public 2-year
postsecondary institution in 1995-96, about one-half who intended to obtain
a bachelor's degree and about one-fourth who sough an associate's degree
transferred to a 4-year institution within 6 years.
- Postsecondary attainment rates vary with students' socioeconomic
status, but rigorous academic preparation and achievement in school can
partially compensate for disadvantage backgrounds. Among students from low
SES backgrounds, those who studies calculus in high school were about 10
times more likely than those who did not to have completed a bachelor's
degree or higher by 2000. In contrast, among high SES students those who
completed calculus were 1.7 times as likely as those who did not to have
completed a bachelor's degree or higher.
- Pell Grant recipients tend to start their postsecondary studies with
more disadvantages than low- and middle-income non-recipients. However,
among 1995-96 beginning postsecondary students, no difference was found in
the overall persistence rates of Pell recipients and nonrecipients after 6
years- that is, in the percentages of students who attained any degree or
certificate or were still enrolled.
Contexts of Postsecondary Education
- Although issues of student access, persistence, and attainment
have been predominant concerns in postsecondary education, the contexts in
which postsecondary education takes place matter as well. The diversity of
populations, the various educational missions and learning environments of
colleges and universities, the courses that students take, the modes of
learning that are employed, and the ways in which colleges and universities
attract and use faculty and other resources all are important aspects of the
context of postsecondary education.
- Undergraduates display considerable diversity in their demographic,
enrollment, and employment characteristics. In 1999-2000, more than half of
undergraduates were women, close to a third were other than White, and 43%
were of nontraditional college age (24 years or older). 80% were employed,
including 39% who were employed full-time.
- The number of associate's degrees awarded increased at a faster rate
than the number of bachelor's degrees between 1990-91 and 2000-01. The
number of associate's degrees awarded increased more during the first half
of this period than in the latter half, while the number of bachelor's
degrees awarded increased by 6% to 7% during each 5-year period.
- In 1999-2000, about 9% of undergraduates reported having a disability
that created difficulties for them as a student: about half of these
students attended public 2-year institutions, and another 26% attended
public 4-year institutions. Among students with disabilities, 22% reported
not receiving the services or accommodations they needed.
- The majority of postsecondary institutions had taken actions that
affected faculty tenure as of 1998, and the proportion of recently hired
faculty who were not on a tenure track increased from 1992 to 1998. These
institutions offered early or phased retirement to full-time tenured faculty
more often than they instituted more stringent standards for granting tenure
or downsizing faculty.
Societal Support for Learning
- The United States and Switzerland, two of the world's wealthiest
countries, ranked highest in expenditures per student at the
elementary/secondary and postsecondary levels. Wealthy countries such as the
United States spent more on education, but typically did not spend a higher
percentage of their wealth on education than did less wealthy nations.
- Both average tuition and fees and the total price of attending college
were higher for undergraduates in 1999-2000 than in 1992-2000. The net price
(total price minus grants), however, did not change for students in the
lowest income quartile.
- The percentage of full-time undergraduates with federal loans,
available to all undergraduates, increased between 1992-93 and 1999-2000. NO
change was observed in the percentage with federal grants, typically
available only to low-income undergraduates.
- Among employed adults 25-64 who participated in adult education in
2001. 87% received employer financial support for work-related educations. A
higher percentage of employed adults received support for work-related
education than for nonwork-related education.
The Condition of Education Report is available in two forms: a print
volume 2003 and a web version on the NCES website
The web version includes special analyses, essays, and indicators from this
and earlier print volumes of The Condition of Education.
The National Center for Education Statistics. (2003). The condition of
education 2003 (NCES 2003-067). Washington, DC: Author.
Submitted by R.M. Johnson, May 2004.
This is a report summary and excerpts are quoted directly from the text.
Iowa State was the first chartered land-grant institution.