Education


We place a lot of faith in education to meet our needs both as individuals and as a society. Given all the time and money we invest, especially as students, we hope that the payoff will be worth it. One way to begin addressing that question for individuals is to check to see if there is a correlation between educational attainment and income level. The good news is that recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau demonstrates a strong positive correlation: as educational level goes up, median income also rises.

My past posts (here and here) on the relationship between education and income routinely receive among the most visits of any posts I have. The new numbers in this post are for 2010 and were released in 2011. They come from the Current Population Survey’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement (PINC-03, Table 28). Graphically, the new numbers look like this:

In addition, the Census Bureau released a report, Education and Synthetic Work-Life Earnings Estimates (pdf), in September, 2011 providing projected lifetime earnings for males and females by both educational attainment and race/ethnicity. This represents an effort to show the long-term consequences of such education differences. As the graph below demonstrates, the overall trend for all groups is that income goes up as educational attainment increases, though the nature of the benefit varies by both gender and race/ethnicity.

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The rising cost of college and what families “should” be doing to save (Hint: $400+/month from birth to 18 per child for a private & $150+/month for a public): http://bit.ly/bjZhnY

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“I believe in education for action. I believe in telling children the truth about the history of the world, that it does not consist of the history of kings, or lords or cabinets. It consists of the history of the mass of the workers, a thing that is not taught in the schools. I believe in telling children how to measure value, a thing that is not taught in any school.”

- James Bryson McLachlan, Secretary-Treasurer, United Mine Workers Union, District 26, circa 1925.

[h/t Quotation of the Day]

“I believe in education for action. I believe in telling children the truth about the history of the world, that it does not consist of the history of kings, or lords or cabinets. It consists of the history of the mass of the workers, a thing that is not taught in the schools. I believe in telling children how to measure value, a thing that is not taught in any school.”

- James Bryson McLachlan, Secretary-Treasurer, United Mine Workers Union, District 26, circa 1925.

NYT columnist Kristof has a column up on gender & education: The Boys Have Fallen Behind. He cites statistics about the differences between boys and girls in schools:

  • 64% of National Honor Society members are girls
  • Grade point average for girls: 3.09
  • Grade point average for boys: 2.86
  • 62% of those who get a perfect SAT score (2400) are boys

Kristof briefly explores possible reasons for the why boy on average have lower scores yet there are more boys among top academic performers. One possibility he doesn’t seem to explore is whether or not boys have calculated that they do not need to do as well in school to still get jobs that pay  better on average than will women due to discrimination and the gender wage gap.

The primary source for his data is Richard Whitmire‘s book Why Boys Fail. Richard Whitmire was interviewed on ABC’s Good Morning America:

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The Institute for College Access & Success has released its annual report, “Student Debt and the Class of 2008,” [pdf] on student debt levels for 2008 grads as part of its Project on Student Debt.

They found that the average student loan debt for a 2008 graduate was $23,200. There was significant variation by state, school type, and individual schools. The District of Columbia had the highest average at $$29,793 followed by Iowa (where I live) at $28,174. The lowest was Utah at $13,041. Average debt also varied by school type: Public 4-year: $20,200; Private non-profit 4-year: $27,650; & Private for-profit 4-year: $33,050.  Individual schools varied from $5,000 to $106,000 in average debt.

An interactive map to see state-level variation is available here. Clicking on a state or on the drop-down menu on that page and selecting a state provides a pop-up box with data about individual schools in the state you select (unless you have pop-ups blocked in your browser). There is also an Excel file available on that page that provides averages for public, private, and overall debt load for each state.

Full report: Student Debt and the Class of 2008 [pdf]

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The New York Times has an article up about classes to help prepare pre-K kids for kindergarten admission exams: “Tips for the Admissions Test … to Kindergarten.” According to the article:

Test preparation has long been a big business catering to students taking SATs and admissions exams for law, medical and other graduate schools. But the new clientele is quite a bit younger: 3- and 4-year-olds whose parents hope that a little assistance — costing upward of $1,000 for several sessions — will help them win coveted spots in the city’s gifted and talented public kindergarten classes.

The focus of the article is on how such preparation is most appealing to parents who cannot afford private school but have enough resources to try to get their children an edge into the gifted & talented track in public schools. This raises questions about the degree to which social class is reproduced within a system that is, in principle, committed to mertiocracy.

Tips for the Admissions Test … to Kindergarten

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NPR has a report up about a new study that takes a look at the cost of college: “Fewer Students Borrow For College. Those Who Do Spend More.” The study was conducted by Gallup and sponsored by student-loan provider Sallie Mae. That study, titled “How America Pays for College” [pdf], is a rich source of data providing numerous statistics, tables, and graphs. It includes, for example, an overall break down the sources of money students use to pay for college:

Fig._1_How_the_Average_Family_Pays_for_CollegeThe report then goes on to analyze each of these pieces of the pie to provide additional information about where each comes from. For example, when looking at student borrowing, 7% of  the overall total comes from federal loans while 5% of the overall total comes from private education loans.

The report also looks at how paying for college varies by income level. They break income into three categories and report the following:

Fig._6_How_the_Average_Family_Pays_for_College,_by_Income_Level

They then breakdown each of these categories as well. For example, they report that students in the lowest income category receive more money in the form of grants compared to the top category (Low: $4338; High: $516), this is reversed when it comes to scholarships (Low: $2812; High: $4126).

There are many other pieces of information in the study that make it well worth a look (for example, it includes some data on race/ethnicity, it breaks down numbers based on type of school, etc.), and it could provide for some interesting discussion.

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In a post as part of their Wired Campus series, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on a professor who raises questions about the educational impact of laptops in the classroom. The key paragraph in the piece, “Students Stop Surfing After Being Shown How In-Class Laptop Use Lowers Test Scores,” summarizes the experiment:

Diane Sieber, an associate professor, teaches writing and ethics to engineering undergraduates. She told the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper that last semester, she identified 17 students in one of her classes who were using laptops most frequently. After the first test, she told them that they did 11 percent worse, on average, than their peers who did not have their faces in their computers as much.

The article links to another story in the Boulder Daily Camera, Profs grapple with laptop rules as CU campus goes wireless, which highlights the degree to which other students can get irritated when those who use laptops are using them for other purposes:

University of Colorado senior Jessica Sanchez said it’s annoying when her classmates flip through their Facebook photos from a wild weekend and play games on their laptops during class.

But when a young woman in front of her in her sociology elective was browsing spring shoes on Ralph Lauren’s Web site this semester, Sanchez found herself laptop window shopping and furious. The egregious distraction prompted her to e-mail her professor after class and ask that laptops be better regulated in the classroom.

“Why do they even come to class?” Sanchez said. “They need to grow up and be respectful.”

Once told of the possible negative impact of laptops on their grades, some of Professor Sieber’s students then opted not to use laptops and their scores rose. While these results are only anecdotal, it is the kind of investigation that can lead to a more careful study of the the real impacts that such use might have on education. The story also reports on some schools that have banned laptops from the classroom because they believe they are a distraction.

Professor Sieber concludes:

“These are grown-ups,” she said. “They need to identify what keeps them from learning, and then act on it because they aren’t going to have me for the rest of their lives telling them ‘No, no, no. Focus.’”

I think it would also make for interesting material for classroom discussion to see how students react to this experiment. Also, the comments in response to the Chronicle article are almost as interesting as the article itself.

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A few years ago Oprah Winfrey featured a story in which students from a Chicago public high school (Harper) exchanged places for a day with students at a suburban Chicago school (Neuqua Valley in Naperville). It shows a significant contrast in the facilities that are available. The YouTube video is available here. There is also a series of related slides (starting here) at Oprah.com as part of a larger report on education called Failing Grade. It provides some brief statististics describing the differences between the schools:

The difference between the two schools can also be seen in their scores on state exams. At Neuqua Valley, 78 percent of students meet Illinois’ reading standards, 76 percent meet the science standards, and 77 percent meet the math standards. At Harper, 16 percent meet the reading standards, 1.5 percent meet the science standards and just .5 percent meet the math standards.

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[Update: There is a newer version of this post with updated data from 2010 available here.]

My earlier “Education Pays: Income by Education Level” post receives among the most hits of any I have, but those numbers are now out of date. That post had data from 2004; this one uses the most recent data from 2007 (released in January 2009). Unfortunately, the numbers presented in the previous post were for means and the Census has not (at least at this point) provided the data on means for 2007. As such, the numbers in this post report medians instead. Graphically, the new numbers look like this:

Educational Attainment by Income for 2007

The data come from the U.S. Census and are presented in their annual report: Educational Attainment in the United States: 2007. The press release is here, and data and reports from previous years are available on their educational attainment page located here.

The data in the graph come from Table 3: “Median Earnings for Workers Aged 25 and Over by Educational Attainment, Work Status,Sex, and Race and Hispanic Origin: 2007″ in which they report the following results for “Full-Time, Year-Round Workers”:

  • Median for all full-time, year-round workers: $41,568
  • Not a high school graduate: $24,964
  • High school graduate: $32,862
  • Some college or associate’s degree: $40,769
  • Bachelor’s degree: $56,118
  • Advanced degree: $75,140

The report also provides breakdowns in Table 3 for both gender and race/ethnicity for the various educational levels.

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