National Center for Education Statistics

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is the part of the United States Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES) that collects, analyzes, and publishes statistics on education and public school district finance information in the United States. It also conducts international comparisons of education statistics and provides leadership in developing and promoting the use of standardized terminology and definitions for the collection of those statistics. NCES is a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System.

National Center for Education Statistics
Agency overview
Formed1867 (1867)
JurisdictionFederal government of the United States

38°53′00″N 77°01′39″W
Agency executive
  • James L. Woodworth, Commissioner
Parent agencyInstitute of Education Sciences


Education in the United States
Education portal
United States portal

The functions of NCES have existed in some form since 1867, when Congress passed legislation providing "That there shall be established at the City of Washington, a department of education, for the purpose of collecting such statistics and facts as shall show the condition and progress of education in the several States and Territories, and of diffusing such information respecting the organization and management of schools and school systems, and methods of teaching, as shall aid the people of the United States in the establishment and maintenance of efficient school systems, and otherwise promote the cause of education throughout the country."[2]

Organizational structure

The National Center for Education Statistics fulfills a Congressional mandate to collect, collate, analyze, and report complete statistics on the condition of American education; conduct and publish reports; and review and report on education activities internationally. The structure and activities of the center are as follows:[3]

Office of the Commissioner

The Office of the Commissioner sets policy and standards for the center and oversees its operation, thus ensuring that statistical quality and confidentiality are maintained.

Administrative Data Division (ADD)

Administrative Data Division (ADD) oversees planning, design, operations, statistical analysis, reporting, and dissemination of administrative records data at the elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education levels, and on libraries.

Assessment Division (AD)

Assessment Division (AD) creates, designs, develops, implements and reports on the National Assessment of Educational Progress at the national level and coordinates assessment and related data collection activities with the states. The staff also conducts a variety of other related education assessment studies.

Sample Surveys Division (SSD)

Sample Surveys Division (SSD) oversees, planning design, operations, statistical analysis reporting, and dissemination of data from sample surveys at all levels of education, including early childhood and adult, and international data. Surveys on vocational and technical education are also included in this division.

Surveys: High School and Beyond (HS&B)

Annual Reports and Information Staff (ARIS)

The Annual Reports and Information Staff (ARIS) prepares analyses that synthesize data on a variety of education topics, and disseminates these analyses through indicator reports, tabular reports, and web tools.

Current publications by ARIS include:

Current programs of research

Assessment programs

Early childhood studies

Elementary and secondary studies

  • The Beginning Teacher Longitudinal Study (BTLS), a study of a cohort of beginning public school teachers initially interviewed as part of the 2007-08 Schools and Staffing Survey
  • The Common Core of Data which annually collects fiscal and non-fiscal data about all public schools, public school districts and state education agencies in the United States
  • The School Survey on Crime and Safety
  • The National Education Longitudinal Study of 1998 (NELS:88), which began with an 8th grade cohort in 1988, providing trend data about critical transitions experienced by young people as they develop, attend school, and embark on their careers
  • The Middle Grades Longitudinal Study of 2017-18 (MGLS:2017), the first longitudinal study of a nationally representative cohort of grade 6 students in the United States
  • The Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS), a longitudinal survey that monitors the transitions of a national sample of tenth graders in 2002 to postsecondary education and the world of work
  • The High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS), which follows a cohort of more than 25,000 9th graders in 2009 through their high school, postsecondary, and early career experiences, focusing on college decision-making and on math learning based on a new algebra assessment
  • The Private School Universe Survey (PSS), which builds an accurate and complete list of private schools to serve as a sampling frame for NCES sample surveys of private schools and to report data on the total number of private schools, teachers, and students in the survey universe
  • Components of the National Household Education Survey (NHES)
  • The Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), which collects extensive data on American public and private elementary and secondary schools. Teachers, principals, schools, school districts and library media centers. SASS has been replaced by the National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS).

Postsecondary studies


  1. "NCES Staff Members". Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  2. 120 Years of American Education: A Statistical Portrait, National Center for Education Statistics, 1993, pg. 1
  3. NCES: About US, National Center for Education Statistics

Resources and tools for students, families, and researchers

Postsecondary data tools

  • DATALAB federal education datasets, analytical tools, and published analysis tables by topic, publication, and source for Postsecondary and Adult Education
  • IPEDS Use the Data, NCES's web-based tools for analyzing Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) data

International data tools

Other NCES resources

  • NCES Handbook of Survey Methods, which describes each survey program in NCES and how program data are obtained and prepared for publication and/or release
  • NCES Statistical Standards, which outline the standards used by NCES staff and contractors as surveys are designed, data collected and processed, and publications authored
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