Revising a classic
How does academic preparedness affect the likelihood that at-risk students will enroll in higher education? How does the quality of math content in 8th grade U.S. classrooms compare with that of schools in Germany and Japan?
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Those are among the questions addressed by new data indicators in the latest version of an old standby: the 2000 Condition of Education report by the National Center for Education Statistics, an arm of the Department of Education.
Thirty-five of the 67 indicators are in the report for the first time, making the edition released last week the biggest revision in years, the report's editor, John G. Wirt, said.
"We've attempted to provide more coherence, tell more of a story, make it easier to use, and cut out extraneous information," he said.
New data points also address the increases in the advanced mathematics and science coursework taken by high school students; the civics understanding of students at different grade levels; before- and after-school care of children; and several other topics.
The data are published separately—and often much earlier—by the NCES in print or online. And technically minded education researchers tend to prefer the center's other two annual reports, the Digest of Education Statistics and Projections of Education Statistics, according to Maris A. Vinovskis, a professor of history at the University of Michigan, who specializes in education data analysis.
But the congressionally mandated Condition report, published each year since 1975, is more likely to be used by speech writers, journalists, and state policy experts because it addresses the education goals and issues of the day.
"The good news is NCES has a very good reputation of credibility," Mr. Vinovskis said.
Vol. 19, Issue 39, Page 23Published in Print: June 7, 2000, as Federal File