The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is an excellent resource if you need to compare public school systems or public universities across several states or nationwide. This division of the US Department of Education is responsible for collecting and publishing information related to elementary, secondary and postsecondary educational institutions. Many of the statistics have been organized into searchable databases:
- The state education data profiler lets the user choose up to four states for comparison against the national average on statistical school data ranging from number of students at each grade level to education expenditures. This data can be viewed as numbers or in a bar graph, and can be downloaded as an Excel file.
- The School District Demographics System reports 2005-2008 NCES statistics by state or school district as snapshot reports, in maps and across multiple years.
- The Common Core of Data database houses several convenient search tools. Build a Table lets the user build a custom table by choosing which NCES statistics to include with data ranging from 1986 to 2008 at state, metropolitan area, county, district or school levels. The Public School District Finance Peer Search compares fiscal information between schools with similar characteristics for a given year, while the Public School District Longitudinal Data Tool compares fiscal data for a single school district from 1990 to 2002.
- The school, college and library locator returns basic enrollment statistics for individual educational institutions.
- The National Assessment of Educational Progress compares state testing scores with national averages at the fourth and eighth grade levels.
The NCES also publishes several annual reports:
- The Condition of Education is an annual report submitted to Congress with statistics related to education at the national level across approximately 50 different indicators. One special analysis has been conducted annually since 2000 (i.e. Community Colleges in 2008 and High School Coursetaking in 2007).
- The Digest of Education Statistics compiles these statistics into tables to compare recent numbers with those dating back as far as 1869.
- A Projection of Education Statistics uses information from the past 15 years to anticipate statistics to the year 2017.
- For the past 12 years, the NCES has published an annual report on school crime and safety using statistics on fights, weapons, school conditions, student perception of safety and other relevant indicators.
- Detailed information from the National Assessment of Educational Progress are published in the Nation's Report Card
If you are not sure whether your desired data is online or if you want to do a comprehensive search of all NCES data since 1991, try the Tables & Figures Search to query by keyword and topic area.