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National Center for Education Statistics

What is the National Center for Education Statistics?

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is:

  • A federal government agency that is part of the Department of Education
  • The primary federal agency responsible for educational data collection and analysis
  • Congressionally mandated

What will I find in this Research Guide?

  • History and Mission of NCES (below)
  • NCES Publications
  • Guide to Searching the NCES website
  • Additional Links and Further Information

History and Mission of NCES

NCES was formed in 1974, and re-organized into its current structure within the IES in 2002. NCES focuses on the collection and dissemination of statistical data that is related to education at all levels in the United States.

According to 20 U.S.C. § 9541, the mission of the NCES is:

1) to collect and analyze education information and statistics in a manner that meets the highest methodological standards;

2) to report education information and statistics in a timely manner; and

3) to collect, analyze, and report education information and statistics in a manner that

a) is objective, secular, neutral, and nonideological and is free of partisan political influence and racial, culatural, gender, or regional bias; and

b) is relevant and useful to practitioners, researchers, policymakers and the public.

NCES collects data on all levels of education, from early childhood through postsecondary (including both college/university and technical/vocational education), and also collects data on lifelong learning, including the areas of adult literacy and libraries.

Education issues surveyed include:

  • Student access
  • Participation and progress in school
  • Student attainment
  • Organization and management of educational institutions
  • Curriculum, climate and diversity of educational institutions
  • Financial and human resources of educational institutions
  • Outcomes of education (including economics)

Data can be used by a variety of individuals and groups, including

  • Educators
  • School districts
  • States
  • Researches and scholars
  • Policymakers
  • Government Agencies, including Congress, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the National Science Foundation

All NCES data and products are available through the NCES website, and most of them are also available though EdPubs, the pubilcation arm of the U.S. Department of Education.

(Source: Programs and Plans of the National Center for Education Statistics, 2005 Edition)

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