Statistics and Ideas That Can Help Lead to Improvement in US Education

As a new school year gets underway, education news is once again heating up. And while teaching standards and curricula are two of the primary topics being covered across the country, it's important to get a grasp on some basic statistics and ideas that can help lead to students, teachers and administrators getting the most out of the system.

U.S. education facts and figures
In order to better understand where the country's education system is, and where it needs to go, it helps to get a handle on some of the basic information provided below. All of the numbers used are from the National Center for Education Statistics, the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Education, as reported by The Washington Post.

  • In 2013, 50.1 million students will be enrolled in public schools and 5.1 million will be enrolled in private schools. It is estimated that another 1.5 million students will be home-schooled.
  • Those 50 million-plus public school students will be taught by 3.3 million teachers, making for approximately a 15-1 student-teacher ratio.
  • During the 2010-11 school year, the average public school teacher earned $56,000.
  • Including teacher salaries, $591 billion will be spent on educating children over the coming school year.

For anyone pursuing, or currently engaged in, a career in teaching, these numbers provide realistic parameters for student and teacher populations, resources and allocations that can be used as different educational theories and techniques are proposed or implemented.

Improvements to science education
Among the many areas that are in need of attention, science is one subject that nearly everybody agrees requires revamping. To that end, The New York Times asked several scientists, teachers and students for their opinions on how to improve science education in the U.S.

Among some of the most constructive ideas came from Mitzi Montoya, dean of the College of Technology and Innovation at Arizona State University. She would like to see science and engineering education be based more around solving real world problems than theory, a process that would get students more engaged in the material, and better prepare them for the real world.

Najib Jammal, the principal at Lakeland Elementary/Middle School in Baltimore, built on that idea by pointing to how a community garden project at his school has helped to expand student interest in science.

Improving the education system in America will be a difficult undertaking, but with better information, and input from students and professionals who will be affected, it can be accomplished.

This article is sponsored by Western Governors University, a non-profit, accredited, online university. WGU's Teachers College offers multiple online degree programs for current teachers or those looking to become teachers. To find out more, please visit

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