National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

Aligned to goals:
  • 1.1: Provide clarity and guidance on privacy rules and regulations to ensure that information and data can be shared in a timely manner with the public while still protecting individual privacy as required by law.
  • 1.2: Make more data and information available to the public.
  • 1.5: Maintain up-to-date information on the Department's website about Department offices and key programs.
  • 3.1: Enhance collaboration with other federal and non-federal agencies, the public, and non-profit and private entities.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), one of the principal federal statistical agencies, is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the United States and other nations. It provides statistical services for educators and education officials at the federal, State, and local levels; Congress; researchers; students; parents; and the media and the general public. NCES is located within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education.

The mission of NCES is to collect, analyze, report, and disseminate education information and statistics in a manner that:

  • meets the highest methodological standards;
  • is timely, relevant, and useful to practitioners, researchers, policy makers, and the public;
  • is objective, secular, neutral, and non-ideological; and
  • is free of partisan political influence and racial, cultural, gender, or regional bias.

NCES publishes public-use and restricted-use data sets and reports that describe, estimate, forecast, or analyze education statistics and ensure that all users have equitable and timely access to data. NCES statistics are used to track progress and trends, identify problems and opportunities for policy improvement, and manage and monitor programs.

With more than 20 survey programs, NCES covers education topics from birth through adulthood using cross-sectional databases, longitudinal studies, and student assessments. In addition, NCES coordinates participation in international assessments, administers quick-response surveys on pressing policy issues, and manages the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) Grant Program, that enables States to draw knowledge from data. In conjunction with SLDS, NCES assists State and local education agencies in improving and using their data systems, and facilitates the exchange of ideas among States through sponsorship of the National Forum on Education Statistics.

NCES runs the Statistical Standards Program, which publishes the NCES Statistical Standards. It consults and advises on methodological and statistical aspects involved in the design, collection, and analysis of education data, and it administers and monitors restricted-use data licenses for the center's data products, assuring compliance with Section 183 of the Education Sciences Reform Act, which prohibits the release of personally identifiable information.

NCES activities include:

  • Provide consistent, reliable, complete, and accurate indicators of education status and trends;

  • Report timely, useful, and high-quality data to education policy makers and data users;

  • Publish reports to distribute education statistics to a wide audience;

  • Provide data in the form of data files and Web tools available for research and analysis;

  • Work with State and local education agencies on issues of data collection, maintenance, and analysis; and

  • Assure compliance with Section 183 of the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA), which prohibits the release of personally identifiable information by the Department, and includes felony criminal penalties, including imprisonment.

NCES serves educators and educational organizations, federal, State, and local education officials, Congress, the news media, researchers, students, parents and the general public

You can find additional information about NCES at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) home page, a part of the U.S. Department of Education.