OK, so you have to be a bit of an education junkie to consider The Condition of Education a real page turner (or the Web equivalent). But the U.S. Education Department's annual publication collects in one place such a plethora of data about the state of education, higher and otherwise, in the United States that it is impossible not to find information that is useful, informative and, yes, even a little entertaining.
The department released the 2005 edition Wednesday, and here are some of the nuggets contained within:
- Twenty-eight percent of freshmen at degree-granting institutions required at least one remedial reading, writing or mathematics course in 2000, the latest year for which data were available. Students at two-year institutions were more likely than other students to require remediation -- 42 percent vs. between 12 to 24 percent at other institutions.
- English composition remains atop the list of the 30 college courses that bachelor's degree recipients are most likely to take, where it has resided for more than two decades. Those who think current students are abandoning science in droves may be surprised to compare the top 5 college courses for people who graduated high school in 1972 and 1992: although their exact spots in the top 5 have moved a bit, calculus and introductory biology, chemistry and psychology are among the top spots on both lists.
- Forty-three percent of undergraduate students in 1999-2000 were age 24 or above, and 82 percent of that group worked while enrolled, according to the report. And about two-thirds of those older working students were more likely to describe themselves as "employees who studied" than as "students who worked to meet their educational needs."
- About 9 percent of undergraduates in 1999-2000 reported having disabilities, and 22 percent of those students said they had not received the services or accommodations they needed.
For those with a little less time to browse, the department also released The Condition of Education in Brief 2005.