I prefer narrative studies in this blog, digging for real-world examples of teachers and schools that are making a difference. But data can also tell an interesting story, and I thought to share with you some interesting facts and figures that, when viewed at a distance, show us how far we have come as a national body of educators, and how far we have left to go in terms of challenges ranging from poverty gaps, staff equity and school infrastructure.

1. Overall K-12 is at a C-grade

Every year Education Week, the non-profit educational news and resource hub, challenges their research center to conduct a thorough grading of US states called the Quality Counts Scorecard, according to a number of indices. Overall, in 2017, the national grade was a C-average, scoring a 74.2. The indices used include:

  • The Chance-for-Success Index which takes an holistic view of the entire K-12 process, looking at the overall role education plays in creating positive outcomes for an individual over a lifetime.
  • A finance analysis studies spending and equity in spending across districts, by state.
  • The K-12 Achievement Index scores states on current academic performance, change over time, and poverty-based gaps.

According to the study 2017 saw Massachusetts takes first place among the states (for the third year in a row), with a B score of 86.5. Another five states also earned B-grades:

  • New Jersey (85.6)
  • Vermont (83.8)
  • New Hampshire (83.4)
  • Maryland (82.8)
  • Connecticut (82.7)

When it comes to states at the bottom of the list these are:

  • Nevada (65.0)
  • Mississippi (65.8)
  • New Mexico (66.3)

2. Teachers in the US are primarily female and white

According to research released by the Federal Government in August 2017, teachers tend to be female and white, with an average of 10 years’ experience. Teachers typically have an average age of 42, work 53 hours a week, and earn a $55,100 average base salary. A few other factoids to come out of the research include:

The number of teachers is growing: there are currently 3.8 million teachers in the US, up from 3.4 million when the research was last done in 2013.
Number of Hispanic teachers is growing: In the previous study 8% of teachers identified as Hispanic, in the latest study 9% were Hispanic. Interestingly 14% of charter school teachers are Hispanic, but only 8.5% of teachers in public schools are Hispanic.

3. Google currently rules Ed-Tech

A recent report reveals that while the battle most certainly still rages between tech giants for increasing shares of the Ed-Tech market, Google is striding ahead of the rest when it comes to attracting the loyalties of teachers and administrators. When asked: Which of the following school-provided tools do educators and students use most frequently for instructional purposes? the survey results show Google ChromeBooks ahead by a wide margin:

  • Google ChromeBook (42.40%)
  • PC Laptop (14.84%)
  • PC Desktop (12.84%)
  • iPad (12.72%)
  • Apple/Mac Laptop (8.60%)
  • Other (5.65%)
  • Apple/Mac Desktop (1.77%)
  • Microsoft Surface (0.71%)
  • Amazon Kindle (0.47%)

4. More students are graduating than ever before

According to the NCES (National Center for Educational Statistics), American students are graduating at an increasingly higher rate, with the 2015-2016 school year delivering a 84% graduation rate. This is an all-time high, and is also the fifth year in a row that the measure as improved. Additionally, graduation rates have improved across all major demographic groups:

  • American Indian/ Alaska Native (2014/5 72%) (2015/6 72%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (2014/5 90%) (2015/6 91%)
  • Hispanic (2014/5 78%) (2015/6 79%)
  • Black (2014/5 75%) (2015/6 76%)
  • White (2014/5 88%) (2015/6 88%)
  • Low-Income Students (2014/5 76%) (2015/6 78%)
  • English-learners (2014/5 65%) (2015/6 67%)
  • Students with disabilities (2014/5 65%) (2015/6 66%)

All in all

I hope I have made the numbers interesting here, and that at least some of these statistics offer a clearer view of the bigger picture. Statistics may not reveal everything about our task as educators, who can capture the granular challenges of personalized education with numbers alone? However, when dealing with a system the size of the US education system trends and movements across vast data sets can in fact give us cause for celebration and optimism, or indeed change.

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