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The Department of Education (known informally as "ED") is responsible for the following: establishing policies on federal financial aid for education, and distributing as well as monitoring those funds; collecting data on America's schools and disseminating research; focusing national attention on key educational issues; and prohibiting discrimination and ensuring equal access to education.
ERIC, sponsored by the Department of Education, began in 1964 to index education-related literature including academic journal articles, reports, dissertations, government documents, and other materials. With the ERIC database, researchers have access to the full-text of these documents (when available), as well as a powerful thesaurus to aid in searching.
The NLE site links out to ERIC and other ED resources; it's also useful for its catalog, which researchers can explore to identify primary and secondary materials in education and related disciplines. (If you find a book that's not available at Yale, make an Interlibrary Loan request.)
Clearinghouse for publications produced by the Department of Education, searchable by audience, subject, educational level, and more. To find additional resources and information from ED, consult the IES Publications and Products database or use a Google site search (e.g., "no child left behind" site:ed.gov).
Formerly the Office of Indian Education Programs, the BIE funds or operates elementary and secondary schools on 64 reservations as well as off-reservation boarding schools. The BIE also provides higher education scholarships, funds tribal colleges and universities, and operates two post-secondary institutions.
"The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education." The website includes survey and program data, publications, and basic data on schools (elementary, secondary, post-secondary).
The Digest of Education Statistics, compiled by NCES, is often a good starting point for statistics on education in the U.S. The Digest includes data from government and private sources on a variety of topics: enrollments, educational attainment, teachers, libraries, international education, and more. Earlier editions of the Digest are available in print.
"This website has the key indicators of the condition of education in the United States. These indicators summarize important developments and trends using the latest statistics and are updated as data become available. A Congressionally mandated annual report on these indicators is provided to the White House and Congress each year." Earlier editions are available in print.
IPEDS is "the primary source for data on colleges, universities, and technical and vocational postsecondary institutions in the United States." Search by institution, compare institutions, or create group reports; or explore topics like graduation rates, financial aid, etc.
"Projections for key education statistics, including enrollment, graduates, teachers, and expenditures in elementary and secondary public and private schools, as well as enrollment and degrees conferred at postsecondary degree-granting institutions. Included are national data on enrollment and graduates for the past 15 years and projections to the year 2021. Also included are state-level data on enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools and public high schools from 2003, with projections to 2021."
"The goal of the ED Data Inventory is to describe all data reported to the Department of Education, with the exception of personnel and administrative data. It includes data collected as part of grant activities, along with statistical data collected to allow publication of valuable statistics about the state of education in this country. The ED Data Inventory includes descriptive information about each data collection, along with information on the specific data elements in individual collections."
If you don't find what you need using the links above, consult the library's guide to Congressional information sources.
For historical government documents research on education in the United States, keep in mind that the Department of Education was established by federal law (PL 96-88) in 1980. Before the Department of Education Organization Act, the following offices and departments were concerned with education:
Department of Education (1867-1868)
Office of Education, a bureau of the Department of the Interior (1868-1939)
Office of Education, part of the Federal Security Agency (1939-1953)
Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (1953-1980; split by PL 96-88 into the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services)