Education Measurement Strategies

Education can be measured multiple ways depending on the age group of interest. Among younger ages, standardized test scores, the percentage enrolled in pre-kindergarten, and truancy rates can be used to understand the level and quality of education taking place in schools. Adequate Yearly Progress, for instance, measures academic performance of public schools in the United States according to standardized test results, as defined and measured by the federal No Child Left Behind Act and the U.S. Department of Education. Adequate Yearly Progress includes requirements for standards of readings and mathematics, as well as attendance and graduation rates. Other common proxies for quality of education include measures of resources, in the form of either spending per pupil or specific school inputs such as the number of teachers per pupil, access to computers, or the availability of after-school programs. Although resources may be necessary for a high‐quality school, they may not be sufficient as some schools are likely to use their resources more effectively than others [1].

In the adult population, the average years of education or percent with a high school, 2-year, or 4-year college degree is often used to understand levels of educational attainment. High school graduation is a frequently used measure but has several nuances. States measure high school graduation rates differently based on how they include transfer or new students and GED earners, and how they define the number of years allowed to receive a degree. In recent years, increasing attention has been paid to educational credentials and attainment other than academic degrees that have labor market value. In 2009, the Federal Interagency Working Group on Expanded Measures of Enrollment and Attainment (GEMEnA) recommended a set of measures including educational certifi­cates, professional certifications, and licenses to address the issue of shortfalls in the measurement of educational attainment [2].

[1] Ladd HF, Loeb S. The challenges of measuring school quality: Implications for educational equity. Education, democracy and justice. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. 2012.
[2] Ewert S, Kominski R. Measuring Alternative Educational Credentials: 2012. United States Census Bureau Report. Household Economic Studies 2014;70-138.