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Projections of Education Statistics to 2019

NCES 2011-017
March 2011

Section 1. Elementary and Secondary Enrollment: Introduction

Total public and private elementary and secondary school enrollment reached 55 million in fall 2007, representing a 10 percent increase since fall 1994. Between fall 2007, the last year of actual public school data, and fall 2019, a further increase of 6 percent is expected, with increases projected in both public schools and in private schools. Increases in public school enrollment are expected for Hispanics, Asians/Pacific Islanders, and American Indians/Alaska Natives, and decreases are expected for Whites and Blacks. Increases in public school enrollment are expected in the South and West, and decreases are expected in the Northeast and the Midwest.

Factors affecting the projections

The grade progression rate method was used to project school enrollments. This method assumes that future trends in factors affecting enrollments will be consistent with past patterns. It implicitly includes the net effect of factors such as dropouts, deaths, nonpromotion, and transfers to and from public schools. See appendixes A.0 and A.1 for more details.

Factors that were not considered

The projections do not assume changes in policies or attitudes that may affect enrollment levels. For example, they do not account for changing state and local policies on prekindergarten (PK) and kindergarten programs. Continued expansion of these programs could lead to higher enrollments at the elementary school level. Projections also exclude the number of students who are homeschooled because national data are available for only a limited time period.

Accuracy of Projections

An analysis of projection errors from the past 26 editions of Projections of Education Statistics indicates that the mean absolute percentage errors (MAPEs) for lead times of 1, 2, 5, and 10 years out for projections of public school enrollment in grades PK–12 were 0.3, 0.6, 1.3, and 2.3 percent, respectively. For the 1-year-out prediction, this means that the methodology used by NCES has produced projections that have, on average, deviated from actual observed values by 0.3 percent. For projections of public school enrollment in grades PK–8, the MAPEs for lead times of 1, 2, 5, and 10 years out were 0.4, 0.7, 1.4, and 3.1 percent, respectively, while the MAPEs for projections of public school enrollment in grades 9–12 were 0.4, 0.7, 1.3, and 2.2 percent, respectively, for the same lead times. An analysis of projection errors from the past eight editions of Projections of Education Statistics indicates that the mean absolute percentage errors (MAPEs) for lead times of 1, 2, and 5 years out for projections of private school enrollment in grades PK–12 were 3.4, 4.6, and 5.5 percent, respectively. For projections of private school enrollment in grades PK–8, the MAPEs for lead times of 1, 2, and 5 years out were 3.5, 4.9 and 6.0 percent, respectively, while the MAPEs for projections of private school enrollment in grades 9–12 were 3.0, 3.8, and 3.6 percent, respectively, for the same lead times. For more information, see table A-2, appendix A.


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