Data on U.S. education

There has been a lot of recent commentary on the state of U.S. education. I’m going to pull some excerpts, starting with some data points:

  • From 2000 to 2008, the percentage of undergraduates enrolled in at least one distance education class expanded from 8 percent to 20 percent.¹
  • Nearly thirty percent of higher education students now (2010) take at least one course online. Over three-quarters of academic leaders at public institutions report that online is as good as or better than face-to-face instruction (compared with 55.4% of private nonprofits and 67.0% of for-profits).²
  • A systematic search of the research literature from 1996 through July 2008 identified more than a thousand empirical studies of online learning. Analysts screened these studies to find those that (a) contrasted an online to a face-to-face condition, (b) measured student learning outcomes, (c) used a rigorous research design, and (d) provided adequate information to calculate an effect size. As a result of this screening, 50 independent effects were identified that could be subjected to meta-analysis. The meta-analysis found that, on average, students in online learning conditions performed modestly better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.³
  • The price of college tuition and fees increased 274.7 percent from 1990 to 2009, which was a faster increase than the price of any basket of goods and services outside of “cigarettes and other tobacco products.”4
  • An estimated $1.29 trillion was spent on U.S. education in 2012, 10 percent in for-profit education, serving childcare, K-12, postsecondary, and corporate training.5

1. Radford, A. W. 2011. Learning at a Distance: Undergraduate Enrollment in Distance Education Courses and Degree Programs. U.S. Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics.
2. Allen, I. E. and J. Seaman. 2010. Class Differences Online Education in the United States, 2010. The Sloan Consortium Babson Survey Research Group.
3. Means, B. 2010. Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies. U.S. Department of Education Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development Policy and Program Studies Service. (pdf)
4. Christensen, C. et al. 2011. Disrupting College: How Disruptive Innovation Can Deliver Quality and Affordability to Postsecondary Education. CAP and Innosight. (pdf)
5. Silber, J. 2012. Equity Research: Education and Training. BMO Capital Markets.

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