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Preprimary education enrollment

What percentage of children are enrolled in preprimary education?


Formal schooling, such as kindergarten and preschool programs, is an important component of early childhood education. This Fast Fact looks at the school enrollment rates of 3- to 5-year-olds using data from the Current Population Survey (CPS), October Supplement. This Fast Fact also compares enrollment rates by various child and family characteristics within the 3- to 4-year-old and 5-year-old age groups.

In October 2021, about 63 percent of 3- to 5-year-olds were enrolled in school overall. The enrollment rate was higher for 5-year-olds than for 3- to 4-year-olds (86 vs. 50 percent).1 For both age groups, enrollment rates were lower than they had been in October 2019, prior to the coronavirus pandemic. A closer examination of the changes in enrollment rates over time shows the following:

In October 2021, for both 3- to 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds, enrollment rates were lower for Hispanic children than for their peers of some other racial/ethnic groups.4 Specifically, enrollment rates in October 2021 were

The enrollment rate was also lower for White 5-year-olds (86 percent) than for those of Two or more races. There were no other measurable differences by race/ethnicity in the school enrollment rates of 3- to 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds.

In October 2021, enrollment rates did not measurably differ by sex for either 3- to 4-year-olds or 5-year-olds.

1 As of 2020, there were 47 states—plus the District of Columbia—that required that free education be offered by age 5; however, schooling was only compulsory for 5-year-olds in 11 states and the District of Columbia (see 50-State Comparison: Free and Compulsory School Age Requirements).
2 For historical data on enrollment rates for 3- to 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds (i.e., data prior to 2010), see Digest of Education Statistics 2019, table 202.10.
3 Enrollment drops during the coronavirus pandemic were also observed in data collected by NCES (see indicators Public School Enrollment and Racial/Ethnic Enrollment in Public Schools).
4 For both 3- to 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds, the October 2021 enrollment rates for American Indian/Alaska Native and Pacific Islander children did not meet reporting standards and were thus excluded from the analyses.

SOURCE: National Center for Education Statistics. (2023). Enrollment Rates of Young Children. The Condition of Education. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved June 21, 2023, from

Numbers in figure titles reflect original numeration from source Condition of Education indicators.

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