Tag Archives: high school diploma

Should states make the GED a high school diploma?

1 Feb

There are a variety of reasons why people fail to complete high school and fail complete their high school education. Kate Convissor lists the following reasons in the EduGuide article, Why Kids Drop Out of School:

While the reasons kids drop out vary, the following are six important risk factors:
1. Academic difficulty and failure. Struggling in school and failing classes is one of the main reasons teens drop out, and this pattern often shows up early. Students who fail eighth grade English or math, for example, are seventy-five percent more likely to drop out of high school.
2. Poor attendance. Teens who struggle in school are also absent a lot, and along with academic failure, absenteeism is an important future predictor for dropping out. As with the previous example, students who are absent for twenty percent of their eighth grade year (one day per week) are also highly likely to drop out in high school.
3. Being held back (retention). Linked to academic difficulty, students who are held back and who are older than the kids in their grade also tend to drop out.
4. Disengagement from school. Many kids who drop out say that school was boring and teachers did little to connect learning to real life. They didn’t feel invested in their school and they didn’t feel that adults seemed interested in them or their high school experience.
5. Transition to a new school. A poor transition from the smaller, more protected environment of middle school to the anonymity of a high school can cause a teen to have difficulty catching up-and some kids never do.
6. Other life factors. Pregnancy, family problems, and financial difficulties are all factors that distract a student from schoolwork and make keeping up more challenging.

Because many entry level jobs require at a minimum a high school diploma, the General Education Development Test or GED is often substituted for the high school diploma to show that an individual has reached a basic level of education achievement.

The Best Schools reported in High School Diplomas versus the GED:

Many indicators soundly show that holders of the GED fall behind their diploma-holding counterparts. The following are a few examples concerning future outcome differences:
• High school graduates earn, on average, about $1,600 a month more than those with a GED (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012).
• Less than 5% of those with a GED receive a bachelor’s degree, compared to the 33% of those with diplomas that do (U.S. Census Bureau), which is supported by several studies showing that high school graduates are more prepared for college and score higher on placement tests than holders of the GED (National Bureau of Economic Research).
• 77% of GED holders do not continue past the first semester of college (American Council of Education study ).
• The military limits the number of accepted and requires higher scores on aptitude test for GED holders, because the military service dropout rates for GED holders is 45% compared to 24% for high school graduates.
The stigma connected with GED holders is not present for diploma holders, and that is the stigma of being a dropout, of lacking persistence, or of taking short cuts. This accounts partly for the large difference in wages between the two groups. Plus, many institutions view the robust education gained by years spent full-time in school cannot be garnered by the taking of a day-long test, nor indicated by it…. Maryland has offered diplomas to GED graduates for decades. Virginia gives GED recipients a certificate. http://www.thebestschools.org/degrees/high-school-diplomas-versus-ged/

Some school districts and states are moving toward issuing a high school diploma upon completion of a GED.

Michael Alison Chandler reported in the Washington Post article, D.C. explores widening the road to earning a high school diploma:

The proposed regulations by the Office of the State Superintendent for Education (OSSE) would remove the standard “Carnegie unit” — 120 hours of instruction, representing an hour a day, five days a week, for 24 weeks — upon which high school credit is based.
Instead, starting next school year, students would have multiple ways to earn credit, including passing a state-approved test or participating in a “course equivalent,” such as an internship, community-service project, portfolio or performance that can be tied to the academic standards. Another proposal would create a “state diploma” that would go to students who pass the GED any time after January 2014…. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/dc-seeks-flexibility-in-granting-high-school-diplomas/2014/12/14/814816a6-7fa0-11e4-81fd-8c4814dfa9d7_story.html

D.C. is not the only area looking for alternatives to the high school diploma.

MaryLynn Schiavi reported in Program makes it easy to get a high school diploma:

A pilot program launched in October 2014 is blazing a new trail for students of all ages and redefining the role of public libraries throughout the state. The Career Online High School (COHS) program is offering residents a free and convenient way to earn a high school diploma and other credentialed certificates through self-paced online courses under the guidance of an assigned coach. Students are expected to complete the program within 18 months.
“This innovative project is the latest step in the transformation of public libraries in the digital age into full-fledged community resources,” said Mary Chute, New Jersey state librarian…. http://www.mycentraljersey.com/story/news/local/new-jersey/2015/02/01/road-high-school-diploma/22589769/

It is important not only for a particular individual, but the economy for individuals to get a high school diploma. The question is whether a GED might open employment doors for some who have failed to complete their high school education. There are a variety of reasons why people fail to complete high school and fail complete their high school education, According to the July 24, 2011 NPR report, School Dropout Rates Add To Fiscal Burden by Claudio Sanchez and Linda Wertheimer, “Nearly 1 million kids who start high school every year don’t make it to graduation.” http://www.npr.org/2011/07/24/138653393/school-dropout-rates-adds-to-fiscal-burden See, More Than Half Of Older High School Dropouts Not Employed Today http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/21/high-school-dropouts-unemployment_n_1291210.html?ref=education&ir=Education Anything that states and school districts can do to broaden the opportunity to complete high school is useful.

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Dallas Independent School District develops three-year high school diploma, savings to go to prekindergarten

23 Jun

As students are prepared for functioning in a 21th century world, the role of schools is evolving. The Future of Children describes high school in the article, Purpose and Outcomes of Today’s High Schools:

Given a common structure, but distinct environments and a still separate and unequal experience for many students, what is the purpose of high school in the twenty-first century? The weight of evidence suggests a growing consensus among both the students who attend the schools and the school districts and states that organize them that regardless of the characteristics of a school or its students, the primary purpose of high school today is to prepare students for college. The secondary functions of workforce preparation, socialization, and community-building remain, but ask a student, parent, school district administrator, or state school official the purpose of high school, and by far the most common response is that the mission of high school is to prepare students for postsecondary schooling.                                                     http://futureofchildren.org/publications/journals/article/index.xml?journalid=30&articleid=35&sectionid=64

Two reports and one article by Diane Ravitch in the Washington Post, which is a reply to the report by the Center for American Progress regarding whether children are learning the skills which are necessary in the 21st-century. These papers highlight the questions of what skills are necessary for children to be successful and whether they are learning these skills in school. Moi discusses the report, Do Schools Challenge our Students? What Student Surveys Tell Us About the State of Education in the U.S. from the Center for American Progress in Report from Center for American Progress report: Kids say school is too easy. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/report-from-center-for-american-progress-report-kids-say-school-is-too-easy/ In response to the report, Diane Ravitch, a research professor at New York University and author of the bestselling “The Death and Life of the Great American School System” wrote Are U.S. schools too easy?

Sarah D. Sparks has written a good synopsis of the report, Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century in the Education Week article, Study: ’21st-Century Learning’ Demands Mix of Abilities. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/07/study_deeper_learning_needs_st_1.html

Morgan Smith of The Texas Tribune writes in the article, In Dallas, 3-Year High School Diploma Would Expand Preschool which was published in the New York Times:

Dallas Independent School District, the state’s second largest, is developing a voluntary three-year high school diploma plan that is likely to start in the 2014-15 school year and would funnel cost savings to finance prekindergarten.

A bill passed in the recently concluded legislative session, sponsored by two Dallas Democrats, Representative Eric Johnson and Senator Royce West, will allow the district to use savings that occur when students in the new plan graduate early. Under current Texas law, districts get state funding on a per-pupil basis, and the Dallas I.S.D. would have lost state aid for a senior year for students who graduated early.

It’s a way to start thinking about the system differently,” said Mike Morath, the Dallas district trustee who promoted the three-year concept. “Do we view education as schools and buildings and first grade and second grade and third grade? Or do we view education as a way to enrich the lives of young people, and do we start taking these institutional blinders off and thinking about it more creatively?”

Advocates of early childhood learning say prekindergarten programs have long-term benefits, including making students less likely to drop out, repeat grades or need remedial course work. In his State of the Union address in February, President Obama set as a priority making “high-quality preschool available to every single child in America.”

The state now pays for half-day preschool programs for children who are learning English or are from homeless, low-income, foster or military families.

In 2011, the Legislature, facing a multibillion-dollar budget shortfall, slashed more than $200 million in grant money that had helped districts extend pre-K programs to a full day. Since then, many districts have been seeking ways to keep full-day prekindergarten without state aid, including charging tuition and, in the case of San Antonio, imposing a city sales tax.

The new legislation authorizes the state to credit the Dallas district for students who graduate under the three-year plan, Mr. Morath said. The district would receive an additional year of state financing for students who finish after what would normally have been the 11th grade.

The plan will enable the district to finance full-day pre-K programs at a rate of two children for every three-year high school graduate, he said. It could also result in savings from what he called a “slightly reduced need” for high school staff members.

Because the program, which must still be approved by the state education commissioner, is in its initial stages, Ann Smisko, the Dallas school district’s chief academic officer, said the district could not predict what the demand might be.

Ms. Smisko said educators would work with middle school students to determine who would enter the new diploma plan. Under the legislation, the district is required to form partnerships with state community colleges and four-year universities to place students who graduate early in some form of postsecondary education. Parents must give their approval for students to participate.

The district is in the midst of developing curriculum requirements for the three-year diploma, which Ms. Smisko said would be geared to “college-ready” standards.

Mr. Morath said an alternative diploma plan would appeal to high-performing students as well as to those eager to start vocational training.

He said the district would determine within five years whether the program was successful. At that point, the Legislature could decide whether to expand it to other school districts in Texas.

The proposal is not intended to be a way to get rid of the senior year of high school, which for many students has value for both social and academic development, Mr. Morath said. “I don’t think anyone thinks the 12th grade is going away,” he said.                                                                            http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/21/us/in-dallas-3-year-high-school-diploma-would-expand-preschool.html?hpw

The three-year diploma is one option for completing high school.

The American Education Guide describes the types of high school programs:

High School Graduation Options

Florida students entering their first year of high school in the 2007-2008 school year
may choose from the following graduation programs:

  • The Traditional 24-credit Program

  • An International Baccalaureate Diploma Program

  • An Advanced International Certificate of Education Diploma Program

  • A three-year, 18-credit college preparatory program

  • A three-year, 18-credit career preparatory program

All of these graduation paths include opportunities to take rigorous academic courses designed to prepare students for their future academic and career choices. All students, regardless of graduation program, must still earn a specific grade point average on a 4.0 scale and achieve passing scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test in order to graduate with a standard diploma. However, the two three-year programs are significantly different from the traditional 24-credit

Traditional 24-Credit Program – It’s a Major Opportunity!

This program requires students to take at least 24 credits in subject areas such as English, mathematics, science, social studies, fine arts, and a physical education course to include the integration of health. Foreign language credit is not required for this program, although it is recommended for community college preparation and is required for admission to Florida’s state universities. This program offers students the chance to take eight elective credits- four credits in a major area of interest and four credits combined to allow for a second major area of interest, a minor area of interest, or elective courses. Major areas of interests will allow students to define their interests and use their high school experience to become better prepared for higher education and/or a career of their choosing.

International Baccalaureate Diploma Program

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Program is a rigorous pre-university course of study leading to internationally standardized tests. The program’s comprehensive two-year curriculum allows its graduates to fulfill requirements of many different nations’ education systems. Students completing IB courses and exams from the six subject groups are eligible for college credit. The award of credit is based on scores achieved on IB exams. Students can earn up to 30 postsecondary semester credits by participating in this program at the high school level. Approximately 45 Florida high schools participate in the IB program. Students in Florida’s public secondary schools who are enrolled in IB courses do not have to pay to take the exams. For information, visit www.ibo.org.

Advanced International Certificate of Education Program

The Advanced International Certificate of Education Program is an international curriculum and examination program modeled on the British pre-college curriculum and “A-Level” exams. Florida’s public community colleges and universities provide college credit for successfully passed exams. Students in Florida’s public secondary schools who are enrolled in AICE courses do not have to pay to take the exams. For information, visit www.cie.org.uk and click on “Qualifications & Diplomas.”

Three-Year, 18-Credit College Preparatory Program

This accelerated graduation program requires fewer credits than the traditional 24-credit program and does not require the student to select a major area of interest. It focuses more on academic courses, which means students take fewer elective courses. Unlike the traditional 24-credit program, the three-year college preparatory program requires students to earn two credits in a foreign language. Students must earn at least six of the 18 required credits in specified rigorous level courses and maintain a cumulative weighted grade point average of a 3.5 on a 4.0 scale with a weighted or non-weighted grade that earns at least a 3.0 or its equivalent in each of the 18 required credits for the college preparatory program. It also requires higher-level mathematics courses than does the 24-credit program and the three-year career preparatory program. The credits required by this program must satisfy the minimum standards for admission into Florida’s state universities.

Three-Year, 18-Credit Career Preparatory Program

This accelerated graduation program requires fewer credits than the traditional 24-credit program and does not require the student to select a major area of interest. It focuses more on academic courses, which means students take fewer elective courses. Unlike the 24-credit program, the three-year career preparatory program requires students to earn specific credits in a single vocational or career education program. It requires students to maintain a cumulative weighted grade point average of a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale with a weighted or non-weighted grade that earns at least a 2.0 or its equivalent in each of the 18 required credits for the career preparatory program. The requirements of the program are designed to prepare students for entrance into a technical center or community college for career preparation or for entrance into the work force.

Choosing a Program

The three-year programs are designed for students who are clear about their future goals, who are mature enough to leave high school, and who are ready to pursue their goals beyond high school in an accelerated manner. To assist students and parents with this task, each school district shall provide each student in grades 6 through 9 and their parents with information concerning the three-year and four-year high school graduation options, including the respective curriculum requirements for those options, so that the students and their parents may select the program that best fits their needs. To select a three-year graduation program, students and their parents must meet with designated school personnel to receive an explanation of the requirements, advantages, and disadvantages of each program option.
Students must also receive the written consent of their parents. Students must select a graduation program prior to the end of ninth grade. Each student and his or her family should select the graduation program that will best prepare the student for his or her postsecondary education or career plan.     http://www.americaseducationguide.com/articles/4-High-School-Graduation-Options

In moi’s opinion, a relevant of the paper is Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century because the question of whether there is a skill-set which will help most students be successful. Is an important question. For a contra opinion, see Jay Mathews’ 2009 Washington Post article, The Latest Doomed Pedagogical Fad: 21st-Century Skills. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/04/AR2009010401532.html

Schools have to prepare students to think critically and communicate clearly, the label for the skill set is less important than the fact that students must acquire relevant knowledge.


High School, Only Shorter: Some Students Cure ‘Senioritis’ by Graduating Early; Trading Prom for Scholarships                 http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304750404577321561583186358.html

Condensing high school to three years                                    http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/get-schooled/2013/jun/22/condensing-high-school-three-years-works-me/


What the ACT college readiness assessment means                                           https://drwilda.com/2012/08/25/what-the-act-college-readiness-assessment-means/

Study: What skills are needed for ’21st-century learning?’                                   https://drwilda.com/2012/07/11/study-what-skills-are-needed-for-21st-century-learning/

ACT to assess college readiness for 3rd-10th Grades                                        https://drwilda.com/2012/07/04/act-to-assess-college-readiness-for-3rd-10th-grades/

National Center on Education and the Economy report: High schools are not preparing students for community college                    https://drwilda.com/2013/05/14/national-center-on-education-and-the-economy-report-high-schools-are-not-preparing-students-for-community-college/

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Education Department changes the format of Education Digest: The Condition of Education

25 May

This blog post deals with The National Center on Education Statistics annual education data digest, the Condition of Education 2013.

Sarah D. Sparks writes in the Education Week article, Education Department Launches Overhauled Education Digest:

The National Center on Education Statistics this morning releases its annual education data digest, the Condition of Education 2013.

It finds a steady increase in the concentration of poverty in American schools. One in five public schools in 2011 had 75 percent or more of their students qualify for free- or reduced-price meals, up from only one in eight schools a decade ago.

And in the wake of the economic downturn, Americans who don’t attain higher education are the most likely to be unemployed: Among adults ages 25-34 who started but did not complete a high school degree, 30 percent were unemployed, making them only slightly better off than those with just a high school diploma, a group with a 32 percent unemployment rate. However, high school dropouts still lag far behind, with unemployment among this group at 44 percent.

On a brighter note, the Condition also finds higher enrollment in preschool—more than 60 percent of children ages 3-5 now attend, a majority of them in full-day classes&mdashand 15 states now require kindergarten for all students.

New Report Format

This year marks the start of a new format for the Condition of Education, according to NCES Commissioner Sean P. “Jack” Buckley. Only a handful of print issues of the report will be published going forward, but the website has been overhauled to make the data easier to use. NCES also—for those extreme edu-data junkies out there—is rolling out Condition of Education apps for smartphones and tablets.

The report itself, which has historically been a digest of all manner of education data released in a given year, has been pared down to 42 indicators that will be gauged annually, in the areas of population characteristics, participation in education, elementary and secondary education, and postsecondary education. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2013/05/education_department_launches_overhauled_education_digest.html?intc=es


The Condition of Education

Population CharacteristicsPopulation Characteristics

Participation in EducationParticipation in Education

Elementary and Secondary EducationElementary and Secondary Education

Postsecondary EducationPostsecondary Education


Reference TablesReference Tables

Reference MaterialsReference Materials

Letter from the CommissionerLetter From the Commissioner

This website has the key indicators of the condition of education in the United States. These indicators summarize important developments and trends using the latest statistics and are updated every year or every other year. A Congressionally mandated annual report on these indicators is provided to the White House and Congress each year.

In addition, this website has Spotlights on issues of current policy interest. These Spotlights take a more in-depth look at the issues through text, graphics and short videos.

Spotlights2013 Spotlights

Chapter 1:

Trends in Employment Rates by Educational Attainment

Chapter 2:

Kindergarten Entry Status: On-Time, Delayed-Entry, and Repeating Kindergartners

Chapter 3:

The Status of Rural Education

Chapter 4:

Financing Postsecondary Education in the United States

Download ReportDownload the 2013 Report

View the Mobile SiteView the Mobile Site

YouTubeWatch Videos on YouTube

TwitterShare Via Twitter

Here is the Readers Guide from the National Center for Education Statistics:

Reader’s Guide

The Condition of Education is available in three forms: a print volume for 2013; on the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) website as a full pdf, as individual pdfs, and in html; and on our mobile website. All reference tables are hyperlinked within the pdf and html versions, as are the sources for each of the graphics. The reference tables can be found in other NCES publications—primarily the Digest of Education Statistics. A pdf that contains all of the reference tables used in The Condition of Education 2013 is available on the NCES website.

Data Sources and Estimates

The data in these indicators were obtained from many different sources—including students and teachers, state education agencies, local elementary and secondary schools, and colleges and universities—using surveys and compilations of administrative records. Users should be cautious when comparing data from different sources. Differences in aspects such as procedures, timing, question phrasing, and interviewer training can affect the comparability of results across data sources.

Most indicators summarize data from surveys conducted by NCES or by the Census Bureau with support from NCES. Brief explanations of the major NCES surveys used in these indicators can be found in the Guide to Sources. More detailed explanations can be obtained on the NCES website under “Surveys and Programs.”

The Guide to Sources also includes information on non-NCES sources used to compile indicators, such as the American Community Survey (ACS) and the Current Population Survey (CPS). These are Census Bureau surveys used extensively in the indicators. For further details on the ACS, see http://www.census.gov/acs/www/. For further details on the CPS, see http://www.census.gov/cps/.

Data for indicators are obtained primarily from two types of surveys: universe surveys and sample surveys. In universe surveys, information is collected from every member of the population. For example, in a survey regarding certain expenditures of public elementary and secondary schools, data would be obtained from each school district in the United States. When data from an entire population are available, estimates of the total population or a subpopulation are made by simply summing the units in the population or subpopulation. As a result, there is no sampling error, and observed differences are reported as true.

Since a universe survey is often expensive and time consuming, many surveys collect data from a sample of the population of interest (sample survey). For example, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) assesses a representative sample of students rather than the entire population of students. When a sample survey is used, statistical uncertainty is introduced, because the data come from only a portion of the entire population. This statistical uncertainty must be considered when reporting estimates and making comparisons.

Various types of statistics derived from universe and sample surveys are reported in the indicators. Many indicators report the size of a population or a subpopulation, and often the size of a subpopulation is expressed as a percentage of the total population. In addition, the average (or mean) value of some characteristic of the population or subpopulation may be reported. The average is obtained by summing the values for all members of the population and dividing the sum by the size of the population. An example is the annual average salaries of full-time instructional faculty at degree-granting postsecondary institutions. Another measure that is sometimes used is the median. The median is the midpoint value of a characteristic at or above which 50 percent of the population is estimated to fall, and at or below which 50 percent of the population is estimated to fall. An example is the median annual earnings of young adults who are full-time, full-year wage and salary workers.

Standard Errors

Using estimates calculated from data based on a sample of the population requires consideration of several factors before the estimates become meaningful. When using data from a sample, some margin of error will always be present in estimations of characteristics of the total population or subpopulation because the data are available from only a portion of the total population. Consequently, data from samples can provide only an approximation of the true or actual value. The margin of error of an estimate, or the range of potential true or actual values, depends on several factors such as the amount of variation in the responses, the size and representativeness of the sample, and the size of the subgroup for which the estimate is computed. The magnitude of this margin of error is measured by what statisticians call the “standard error” of an estimate.

When data from sample surveys are reported, the standard error is calculated for each estimate. The standard errors for all estimated totals, means, medians, or percentages are reported in the reference tables.

In order to caution the reader when interpreting findings in the indicators, estimates from sample surveys are flagged with a “!” when the standard error is between 30 and 50 percent of the estimate, and suppressed with a “‡” when the standard error is 50 percent of the estimate or greater.

Data Analysis and Interpretation

When estimates are from a sample, caution is warranted when drawing conclusions about one estimate in comparison to another, or about whether a time series of estimates is increasing, decreasing, or staying the same. Although one estimate may appear to be larger than another, a statistical test may find that the apparent difference between them is not reliably measurable due to the uncertainty around the estimates. In this case, the estimates will be described as having no measurable difference, meaning that the difference between them is not statistically significant.

Whether differences in means or percentages are statistically significant can be determined using the standard errors of the estimates. In these indicators and other reports produced by NCES, when differences are statistically significant, the probability that the difference occurred by chance is less than 5 percent, according to NCES standards.

Data presented in the indicators do not investigate more complex hypotheses, account for interrelationships among variables, or support causal inferences. We encourage readers who are interested in more complex questions and in-depth analysis to explore other NCES resources, including publications, online data tools, and public- and restricted-use datasets at http://nces.ed.gov.

For all indicators that report estimates based on samples, differences between estimates (including increases and decreases) are stated only when they are statistically significant. To determine whether differences reported are statistically significant, two-tailed t tests at the .05 level are typically used. The t test formula for determining statistical significance is adjusted when the samples being compared are dependent. The t test formula is not adjusted for multiple comparisons, with the exception of statistical tests conducted using the NAEP Data Explorer. When the variables to be tested are postulated to form a trend, the relationship may be tested using linear regression, logistic regression, or ANOVA trend analysis instead of a series of t tests. These alternate methods of analysis test for specific relationships (e.g., linear, quadratic, or cubic) among variables. For more information on data analysis, please see the NCES Statistical Standards, Standard 5-1, available at http://nces.ed.gov/statprog/2002/std5_1.asp.

A number of considerations influence the ultimate selection of the data years to feature in the indicators. To make analyses as timely as possible, the latest year of available data is shown. The choice of comparison years is often also based on the need to show the earliest available survey year, as in the case of the NAEP and the international assessment surveys. In the case of surveys with long time frames, such as surveys measuring enrollment, the decade’s beginning year (e.g., 1980 or 1990) often starts the trend line. In the figures and tables of the indicators, intervening years are selected in increments in order to show the general trend. The narrative for the indicators typically compares the most current year’s data with those from the initial year and then with those from a more recent period. Where applicable, the narrative may also note years in which the data begin to diverge from previous trends.

Rounding and Other Considerations

All calculations within the indicators are based on unrounded estimates. Therefore, the reader may find that a calculation, such as a difference or a percentage change, cited in the text or figure may not be identical to the calculation obtained by using the rounded values shown in the accompanying tables. Although values reported in the supplemental tables are generally rounded to one decimal place (e.g., 76.5 percent), values reported in each indicator are generally rounded to whole numbers (with any value of 0.50 or above rounded to the next highest whole number). Due to rounding, cumulative percentages may sometimes equal 99 or 101 percent rather than 100 percent.

Race and Ethnicity

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is responsible for the standards that govern the categories used to collect and present federal data on race and ethnicity. The OMB revised the guidelines on racial/ ethnic categories used by the federal government in October 1997, with a January 2003 deadline for implementation (Office of Management and Budget 1997). The revised standards require a minimum of these five categories for data on race: American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and White. The standards also require the collection of data on the ethnicity categories Hispanic or Latino and Not Hispanic or Latino. It is important to note that Hispanic origin is an ethnicity rather than a race, and therefore persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race. Origin can be viewed as the heritage, nationality group, lineage, or country of birth of the person or the person’s parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States. The race categories White, Black, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and American Indian or Alaska Native, as presented in these indicators, exclude persons of Hispanic origin unless noted otherwise.

The categories are defined as follows:

  • American Indian or Alaska Native: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and maintaining tribal affiliation or community attachment.

  • Asian: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent, including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.

  • Black or African American: A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.

  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.

  • White: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.

  • Hispanic or Latino: A person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.

Within these indicators, some of the category labels have been shortened in the indicator text, tables, and figures. American Indian or Alaska Native is denoted as American Indian/Alaska Native (except when separate estimates are available for American Indians alone or Alaska Natives alone); Black or African American is shortened to Black; and Hispanic or Latino is shortened to Hispanic. When discussed separately from Asian estimates, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander is shortened to Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.

The indicators draw from a number of different sources. Many are federal surveys that collect data using the OMB standards for racial/ethnic classification described above; however, some sources have not fully adopted the standards, and some indicators include data collected prior to the adoption of the OMB standards. This report focuses on the six categories that are the most common among the various data sources used: White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native. Asians and Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders are combined into one category in indicators for which the data were not collected separately for the two groups.

Some of the surveys from which data are presented in these indicators give respondents the option of selecting either an “other” race category, a “Two or more races” or “multiracial” category, or both. Where possible, indicators present data on the “Two or more races” category; however, in some cases this category may not be separately shown because the information was not collected or due to other data issues. The “other” category is not separately shown. Any comparisons made between persons of one racial/ethnic group to “all other racial/ ethnic groups” include only the racial/ethnic groups shown in the indicator. In some surveys, respondents are not given the option to select more than one race. In these surveys, respondents of two or more races must select a single race category. Any comparisons between data from surveys that give the option to select more than one race and surveys that do not offer such an option should take into account the fact that there is a potential for bias if members of one racial group are more likely than members of the others to identify themselves as “Two or more races.”1 For postsecondary data, foreign students are counted separately and are therefore not included in any racial/ethnic category.

The American Community Survey (ACS), conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, collects information regarding specific racial/ethnic ancestry. Selected indicators include Hispanic ancestry subgroups (such as Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Salvadoran, Other Central American, and South American) and Asian ancestry subgroups (such as Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese). In addition, selected indicators include “Two or more races” subgroups (such as White and Black, White and Asian, and White and American Indian/Alaska Native).

For more information on the ACS, see the Guide to Sources. For more information on race/ ethnicity, see the Glossary.

Limitations of the Data

The relatively small sizes of the American Indian/Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander populations pose many measurement difficulties when conducting statistical analysis. Even in larger surveys, the numbers of American Indians/Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians/ Pacific Islanders included in a sample are often small. Researchers studying data on these two populations often face small sample sizes that reduce the reliability of results. Survey data for American Indians/Alaska Natives often have somewhat higher standard errors than data for other racial/ethnic groups. Due to large standard errors, differences that seem substantial are often not statistically significant and, therefore, not cited in the text.

Data on American Indians/Alaska Natives are often subject to inaccuracies that can result from respondents self-identifying their race/ethnicity. Research on the collection of race/ethnicity data suggests that the categorization of American Indian and Alaska Native is the least stable self-identification (U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS] 1995). The racial/ ethnic categories presented to a respondent, and the way in which the question is asked, can influence the response, especially for individuals who consider themselves of mixed race or ethnicity. These data limitations should be kept in mind when reading this report.

As mentioned above, Asians and Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders are combined into one category in indicators for which the data were not collected separately for the two groups. The combined category can sometimes mask significant differences between subgroups. For example, prior to 2011, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) collected data that did not allow for separate reporting of estimates for Asians and Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders. Information from the Digest of Education Statistics, 2011 (table 21), based on the Census Bureau Current Population Reports, indicates that 96 percent of all Asian/Pacific Islander 5- to 24-year-olds are Asian. This combined category for Asians/Pacific Islanders is more representative of Asians than Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders.


In accordance with the NCES Statistical Standards, many tables in this volume use a series of symbols to alert the reader to special statistical notes. These symbols, and their meanings, are as follows:
— Not available.
† Not applicable.
# Rounds to zero.
! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.
‡ Reporting standards not met. Either there are too few cases for a reliable estimate or the coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is 50 percent or greater.
p < .05 Significance level.

1 Such bias was found by a National Center for Health Statistics study that examined race/ethnicity responses to the 2000 Census. This study found, for example, that as the percentage of multiple-race respondents in a county increased, the likelihood of respondents stating Black as their primary race increased among Black/White respondents but decreased among American Indian or Alaska Native/Black respondents. See Parker, J. et al. (2004). Bridging Between Two Standards for Collecting Information on Race and Ethnicity: An Application to Census 2000 and Vital Rates. Public Health Reports, 119(2): 192–205. Available through http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1497618.

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