We’ve moved.

Dear Readers, The Hechinger Report started Education By The Numbers as an experimental blog in 2013. It has since evolved into a weekly column, carried by both U.S. News & World Report and Washington Monthly, and now it is moving inside the new website of The Hechinger Report. Please visit us there. There are several ways […]


The push for standards is seeping into arts education

Advocates for arts education are in the midst of a counter offensive. Arguing that post-recession budget cuts and Bush-era testing policies have prompted schools to cut art (in order to spend more time prepping kids for math and reading tests), they’ve come up with an idea: convince states to adopt new art standards –à la Common […]


To repeat, or not to repeat? California algebra study creates commotion

I received a lot of reaction on Twitter to my Dec. 15 column, “California study finds harm for some in repeating algebra, questions whether it benefits anyone,” and would like to respond. The published study that I was analyzing highlighted the fact that the average student who had repeated algebra improved his grades and test scores. It would seem that […]


Three lessons from data on children’s reading habits

More than a decade ago a company called Renaissance Learning developed a computerized way for teachers to track students’ reading outside of the classroom. Instead of pasting stars on a chart each time a student says he has read a book, the teacher sits a student in front of a computer screen to answer a […]


Homeless students increase by 58 percent in past six years

Despite signs of a national economic recovery, homelessness in U.S. public schools steadily increased 8 percent, to 1.26 million students, in the 2012-13 school year from the previous year. That may not sound terrible, but consider that it is part of a 58 percent jump in the number of homeless students in the six years since […]


National student database controversy heats up again

This Inside Higher Ed piece by Libby Nelson explains the new push in Washington to create a national student database that would track students through college and into the work force. The idea, sometimes referred to as a “unit record data,” was originally proposed by the Bush Administration in 2005, but critics, citing student privacy concerns, were […]


Poor parents: Federal data show more parents going into more debt to send kids to college

The most recent data on how Americans pay for college show that parents are taking on more of the debt burden for their kids. In 1999 about 13 percent of parents took out PLUS loans. The average loan amount was $19,700 in inflation-adjusted dollars. By 2011, the numbers had increased to 21 percent of parents […]


Why are the scores of the nation’s top high school seniors stagnant?

On May 7, 2014 I argued that the stagnation of U.S. high school seniors’ test scores can’t be blamed on demographic changes because the scores of top students, the 90th percentile, have been flat too. Fredrik deBoer wrote on his website that we should never be surprised by stagnant performance at the top because “there are […]


Researchers give failing marks to national effort to measure good teaching

School systems around the country are trying to use objective, quantifiable measures to identify which are the good teachers and which are the bad ones. One popular approach used in New York, Chicago and other cities, is to calculate a value-added performance measure (VAM). Essentially, you create a model that begins by calculating how much […]


Education majors going out of favor

NPR’s Planet Money posted a wonderful graphic, tracking the popularity of various undergraduate majors. I wish I had thought to do this from basic data in the Digest of Education Statistics. Planet Money immediately pointed out the decline in education as an undergraduate major. The education degree saw a dramatic decline, falling from 21 percent […]