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US Department of Education Principal Office Functional Statements
Institute of Education Sciences

Functional Statements > Institute of Education Sciences

C. National Center For Education Statistics

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the United States and other nations. It fulfills a Congressional mandate to collect, collate, analyze and report full and complete statistics on the condition of education in the United States; conduct and publish reports and specialized analyses of the meaning and significance of such statistics; assist State and local education agencies in improving their statistical systems; and review and report on education activities in foreign countries.

The Center's activities are designed to:
  1. address high priority education data needs;
  2. provide consistent, reliable, complete and accurate indicators of education status and trends; and,
  3. report timely, useful and high quality data to the Department, the Congress and other education policy makers and data users.

NCES is directed by a Commissioner, appointed by the President and with the advice and consent of the Senate.  The Commissioner reports to the Assistant Secretary for Educational Research and Improvement.

The Center includes the Office of the Commissioner and four Divisions: Early Childhood, International and Crosscutting Studies Division, Assessment Division, Elementary/Secondary and Libraries Studies Division, and Postsecondary Studies Division

There are also two legislatively mandated entities that contribute to the mission of the NCES.  The Advisory Council on Education Statistics (ACES), reviews general operating policies and advises the Commissioner on standards to ensure that statistics and other information disseminated by the Center are of high quality and are not subject to partisan political influence.  The other group, the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), develops policy guidelines for the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP).

Office of the Commissioner

The Commissioner sets NCES policy and goals.  In addition, the Commissioner is responsible for overseeing the operation of the Center and ensuring that statistical quality and confidentiality are maintained. 

In performing its responsibilities, the Immediate Office of the Commissioner ensures that the operations of the Center are consistent with OERI, Department, and federal standards, policies, and procedures, and that they are carried out in an effective and efficient manner, and are customer-oriented.

Office of the Deputy Commissioner

The Deputy Commissioner assists the Commissioner in the overall management and supervision of the work of NCES.  The Deputy Commissioner is also the NCES liaison to the Federal statistical community.

The Office of the Deputy Commissioner also includes two programs: statistical standards and technology.

The statistical standards program has Center-wide responsibilities for maintaining high standards of statistical sophistication and quality for NCES> The program is directly responsible for implementing confidentiality procedures, conducting the adjudications and publications reviews, and maintaining the Task Force on Quality Systems.

The technology program has Center-wide responsibility for providing hardware and software, web site development and maintenance, workstation support, and technology planning.

Early Childhood, International, and Crosscutting Studies Division

The Early Childhood, International, and Crosscutting Studies Division (ECICSD) has Center-wide responsibility for identifying data needs across the Center as well as for improving analyses, distribution, and use of products.  ECICSD also has responsibility within the Center for the broad subject areas of international activities, early childhood education, vocational education, and school crime and safety.  It is also responsible for conducting studies and producing reports that cut across all levels of education, from early childhood to life-long learning, and relations with key interagency groups.

Assessment Division

The Assessment Division (AD) conceives, designs, develops, implements and reports on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) at the national and state levels and conducts a variety of related education assessment studies such as student transcripts and adult literacy. The Division gathers, analyzes, and synthesizes qualitative and quantitative data on American education and related policy and background factors.  It provides normative, descriptive, trend, growth, and comparative policy-relevant data concerning achievement, education context, process, and other outcomes.

AD develops and applies state-of-the-art psychometric procedures in operationalizing comprehensive content frameworks and extensive item specifications.  It utilizes standardized terminology, data definitions in such areas to ensure the compatibility of collected data and derived measures.  This Division is responsible for the coordination and linking of assessments and related data collection activities across NCES surveys (e.g., international assessments) and related surveys outside the Center, including State assessments.  The Division conducts in-depth statistical analyses of these selected data bases from both sources. The Division ensures the presentation of fair comparisons of student achievement and other measures.  The Division is responsible for the production of focused reports on assessment-related statistical surveys, validity studies, and secondary analyses.

AD translates data needs into an integrated, long-range program of assessment surveys and studies.  The Division collects, analyzes and reports data on educational outcomes at the elementary/secondary levels, and for the adult population; and applies and advances the state-of-the-art knowledge of mathematical statistics, survey design, item construction, assessment administration procedures, psychometrics, analysis techniques, and systems analysis in the design, conduct, analysis and reporting of assessments and other surveys.

Elementary/Secondary and Libraries Studies Division

The Elementary/Secondary and Libraries Studies Division oversees planning, design, operations, statistical analysis, reporting and dissemination for elementary, secondary and library surveys; ensures that statistical quality and confidentiality are maintained; maintains liaison with Departmental officials, Federal agencies, State and local educational agencies, State library agencies, public and private schools, statistical, education and library associations, and other individuals and groups concerned with national elementary, secondary and library statistics.

The Division serves as the primary federal data source for elementary and secondary education and for libraries in the United States.  The Division collects statistics on public and private elementary and secondary schools, students, teachers, administrators, school finances and school districts in the United States.  It also collects data on public, state, and academic libraries, educational attainment, student retentions, transitions, achievement, performance, placement and other outcomes to illuminate current and emerging policy issues of interest to assist Federal, State, and local educators.  Finally, ESLSD is responsible for analyzing transcript data for longitudinal studies, as well as planning and disseminating information from the decennial School District Mapping Project.

The Division is responsible for the development and implementation of the Congressionally- mandated National Cooperative Education Statistics System in the areas of elementary, secondary, and library education.  ESLSD is responsible for the development and implementation of standardized terminology and data definitions in the elementary, secondary, and library areas to ensure the compatibility of data to be collected and a technical assistance program that includes the promulgation of standards, training, support of electric data collection, and dissemination.  It is also responsible for maintaining an on-going longitudinal study and analysis of elementary and secondary education students.

Postsecondary Statistics Division

The Postsecondary Statistics Division (PSD) oversees planning, design, operations, statistical analysis, reporting and dissemination for postsecondary surveys; ensures that statistical quality and confidentiality are maintained; maintains liaison with Departmental officials, Federal agencies, State higher education agencies, postsecondary institutions, and postsecondary associations.

The Division serves as the primary federal data source for postsecondary education in the United States and collects statistics on enrollments, faculty and staff, completion and attainment, and finances on postsecondary institutions.  In addition, PSD collects statistics on student financial aid, persistence, progress, and degree attainment by postsecondary students. Finally, PSD collects statistics on labor market outcomes for postsecondary students and graduates.

The Division is also responsible for the development and implementation of the Congressionally- mandated National Cooperative Education Statistics System in the area of postsecondary education.  The PSD is responsible for the development and implementation of a technical assistance program that includes the promulgation of standards, training, support of electronic data collection, and dissemination.

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Last Modified: 07/01/2013