As a writer, I generally favor words over numbers. But sometimes a good number is worth a thousand words. Or something like that. In that spirit, here are five numbers that help explain the state of education in 2016 (with a smattering of words thrown in for good measure).
This is the percentage of American high-schoolers who graduated on time during the 2014-15 school year (the most recent year for which there is data available). While 83 percent is a record-high overall graduation rate, the rates for some groups of students, such as blacks and Latinos, are much lower. Although persistent gaps remain, schools and nonprofits are finding creative ways to serve what is an increasingly diverse student body.
Five is the number of states that do not provide any funding for preschool. While expanding early-childhood education is increasingly seen by both Republicans and Democrats as a valuable investment, Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Wyoming have held out for a variety of reasons. How long these states remain outliers is unclear. There is more brain science than ever to suggest investments in the early years pay off. And there is an increasing amount of attention being paid to how preschool and quality childcare can help reduce the multimillion gap in the number of words babies from wealthy and poor families hear. Yet even when states and cities do invest in preschool programs, it’s not always clear that they’re funding approaches that are the best for kids.