America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2013


The kindergarten year is a pivotal marker for children’s development. At kindergarten entry, there are differences among children in terms of their cognitive knowledge and skills, level of socioemotional development, and approaches to learning. This special feature highlights kindergartners’ aptitude in several key areas related to success in school. The depth and breadth of children’s knowledge and skills are related to both developmental and experiential factors. Students’ early academic knowledge and skills and approaches to learning are described in this feature with respect to demographic characteristics as well as with respect to family and household characteristics.

This special feature is based on data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010–2011 (ECLS-K:2011),146 which is the third in a series of longitudinal studies of young children conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The ECLS surveys provide comprehensive and reliable data about children’s early learning and development, as well as their transition into kindergarten and progress through school. The data used for this special feature are for ECLS-K:2011 students who were first-time kindergartners in the fall of 2010. The feature describes differences in children’s performance at kindergarten entry in three academic, cognitive, and socioemotional areas, namely, reading, mathematics, and approaches to learning. In addition, the feature describes children’s early science performance, which was captured in the spring of kindergarten. Although various differences in children’s performance on these measures were observed across demographic and other characteristics, the discussion focuses on only a selection of these differences.


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The number of high-poverty schools increases by about 60 percent

Poverty is getting so concentrated in America that one out of five public schools was classified as as a “high-poverty” school in 2011 by the U.S.  Department of Education. To win this unwelcome designation, 75 percent or more of an elementary, middle or high school’s students qualified for free or reduced-price lunch. About a decade earlier, in 2000, only one in eight public schools was deemed to be high poverty. That’s about a 60 percent increase in the number of very poor schools!

This  figure was part of a large data report, The Condition of Education 2013, released by the National Center for Education Statistics on May 23, 2013.  There’s a lot to chew on in it. But school poverty jumped out at me as a really depressing data point showing the growing income inequality in America.

Qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch is an imperfect measure of poverty.  A mother with two kids who makes under $35,000 a year would be in this group.  Certainly, that’s poor family in New York City, but maybe not destitute in Utah. I’ve also heard that many poor families feel that it is such a stigma to accept a discounted or free lunch that they don’t sign up for the program. So the poverty rates in many schools are probably much higher than the official statistics say they are.

Here is the chart of income thresholds to qualify for free and reduced-price lunch.

Source: Education By The Numbers, The Hechinger Report

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Common Education Data Standards – Draft Early Learning Elements

The National Center for Education Statistics is requesting comments on draft early learning elements to be included in the Version 2 release of the Common Education Data Standards.

NCES is pleased to announce the release of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) Version 2 Final Draft for public comment. The Version 2 Final Draft includes a broad scope of elements spanning much of the P-20 spectrum and provides greater context for understanding the standards’ interrelationships and practical utility. Specifically, the Version 2 Final Draft includes:

  • Early Learning, K-12, and Postsecondary sectors;
  • Elements, definitions, and options sets;
  • Entities (the real world constructs described by elements) and element-entity relationships;
  • Use case connections describing elements’ functional applications; and
  • Search capabilities to aid exploration of the standards.

The Version 2 Standard Final Draft can be found at the CEDS website (, through which users can submit comments on the final draft standards. All comments must be submitted by November 28th in order to be considered for the Version 2 release in January 2012.

The Version 2 release in January will include:

  • A finalized list of elements, definitions, and option sets;
  • A CEDS Logical Data Model to describe the relationships among CEDS elements; and
  • A Data Alignment Tool to allow users to easily map and compare their own data dictionaries to CEDS and standards used by other organizations.

CEDS is a specified set of the most commonly used education data elements. These voluntary standards are being developed to support the effective exchange of data as students transfer within and across states and transition between education sectors. The standards will also aid in streamlining federal reporting. This common vocabulary will improve the consistency and comparability of data throughout all education levels and sectors, and enable more effective use of data to support improved student achievement.

The standards are being developed by NCES with the assistance of a CEDS Stakeholder Group that includes representatives from states, districts, institutions of higher education, state higher education agencies, early childhood organizations, federal program offices, interoperability standards organizations, and key education associations and non-profit organizations.

For more information about CEDS please join us on November 22nd, 2011 at 10 a.m. (EST). To register for the webinar use the information below: