federal executive division responsible for carrying out government education programs and policies. It seeks to ensure access to education and to improve the quality of education nationwide. In addition to administering programs in elementary and secondary education, higher education, vocational and adult education, special education, bilingual education, civil rights, and educational research, the department provides funds and services to the American Printing House for the Blind, Gallaudet University, Howard University, and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), informally known as the Nation's Report Card, assesses U.S. students' knowledge, achievement, and ability and identifies long-term trends in those areas. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) collects and analyzes statistics on the condition of education in the United States and helps states, municipalities, and postsecondary institutions improve their own statistical systems.