Indicators to Track Nation's Education Progress
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"These five indicators are national, results-based, and reliable. Together with No Child Left Behind, they provide a national barometer of success."
— U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is providing parents, educators, and the public with historic levels of information about how schools in the United States are performing. Because of this law, we have data to show whether schools are meeting state benchmarks for student achievement in math and reading, whether they are holding students of all races and income levels to the same standard, and whether students are being taught by highly qualified teachers. In addition, when students and schools fall behind, the law provides families with options such as free tutoring and the ability to transfer their child to a better-performing school.

The leading education indicators complement No Child Left Behind by providing a snapshot of national trends. We already have leading economic, housing, and environmental indicators. These indicators speak to educational performance over time to inform future debate on reform.

The five indicators provide answers to many of parents' most fundamental questions in education:

  • Do children have reading and math skills, as measured by the Nation's Report Card (NAEP)?
  • Are African American and Hispanic students lagging behind their classmates?
  • Are students graduating from high school on time, as measured by the Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate released every year by the National Center for Education Statistics?
  • When students graduate from high school, are they prepared for college-level work, as defined by college entrance exams?
  • Finally, are students obtaining college degrees, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau's figures on the proportion of those between the ages of 25 and 34 who have attained at least a bachelor's degree?

These indicators track the United States' education attainment. The composite score gives the nation an overall idea of where we are headed and shows our growth over time.

  2000 2007
Achievement in Reading and Math 25% 33%
Achievement Gap 23% 35%
High School Graduation 72% 74%
College Readiness 42% 42%
College Completion 29% 31%
Composite 38 43

For more information and technical notes on the indicators, please visit

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Last Modified: 09/15/2008