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Indicators

Public School Enrollment
(Last Updated: May 2016)

Between school year 2013–14 and 2025–26, total public school enrollment in preK through grade 12 is projected to increase by 3 percent (from 50.0 million to 51.4 million students), with changes across states ranging from an increase of 39 percent in the District of Columbia to a decrease of 15 percent in New Hampshire.

Changes in public school enrollment are largely reflective of demographic changes in the population. This indicator discusses overall changes in public school enrollment (including both traditional public school and public charter school), as well as changes within grade levels and by state. In school year 2013–14, some 50.0 million students were enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools. Of these students, 70 percent were enrolled in prekindergarten (preK) through grade 8, and the remaining 30 percent were enrolled in grades 9 through 12.


Figure 1. Actual and projected public school enrollment in prekindergarten (preK) through grade 12, by grade level: Selected school years, 2003–04 through 2025–26

Figure 1. Actual and projected public school enrollment in prekindergarten (preK) through grade 12, by grade level: Selected school years, 2003–04 through 2025–26

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), “State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/ Secondary Education,” 2003–04 through 2013–14; and State Public Elementary and Secondary Enrollment Projection Model, 1980 through 2025. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, tables 203.20, 203.25, and 203.30.


Total public school enrollment increased steadily throughout the 1990s and 2000s. Between 2003–04 and 2013–14, total public school enrollment increased by 3 percent, reaching 50.0 million students. From 2013–14 to 2025–26 (the last year for which projected data are available), total public school enrollment is projected to increase by 3 percent to 51.4 million students.

Reflecting the increase in total public school enrollment, enrollment in preK through grade 8 also rose throughout the 1990s and 2000s. Between 2003–04 and 2013–14, enrollment in preK through grade 8 increased by 3 percent, reaching 35.3 million students. Public school enrollment in preK through grade 8 is projected to increase by 2 percent to 36.1 million students in 2025–26. Public school enrollment in grades 9 through 12 increased in the 1990s and the early 2000s. In more recent years, enrollment in grades 9 through 12 increased between 2003–04 and 2007–08 to 15.1 million students, and then decreased by 2 percent to 14.8 million in 2013–14. Between 2013–14 and 2025–26, enrollment in grades 9 through 12 is projected to increase by 4 percent to 15.4 million students.

Total public school enrollment in preK through grade 12 increased in 30 states and the District of Columbia from 2003–04 to 2013–14, with increases of 15 percent or more occurring in five states (Utah, Texas, Idaho, Nevada, and Colorado). During this period, total enrollment declined in the other 20 states, with decreases of 10 percent or more occurring in four states (Michigan, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New Hampshire).


Figure 2. Projected percentage change in public school enrollment in prekindergarten through grade 12, by state: Between school years 2013–14 and 2025–26

Figure 2. Projected percentage change in public school enrollment in prekindergarten through grade 12, by state: Between school years 2013–14 and 2025–26

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), “State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/ Secondary Education,” 2013–14; and State Public Elementary and Secondary Enrollment Projection Model, 1980 through 2025. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 203.20.


Changes in total enrollment are also projected to vary across the nation from 2013–14 to 2025–26. The District of Columbia is projected to see the largest percentage increase (39 percent) in total enrollment, while the state with the largest projected percentage increase is North Dakota (30 percent). The states that are projected to have the largest percentage decreases are New Hampshire (15 percent) and Connecticut (14 percent).

Between 2013–14 and 2025–26, changes in public school enrollment are also projected to differ by state in preK through grade 8 as well as in grades 9 through 12. Reflecting the expected national enrollment increase during this period, 30 states and the District of Columbia are expected to have enrollment increases in preK through grade 8, and 32 states and the District of Columbia are expected to have enrollment increases in grades 9 through 12. In preK through grade 8, enrollment is projected to increase by 15 percent or more in the District of Columbia, North Dakota, and Utah, but it is projected to decrease by 10 percent or more in Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont. Enrollment in grades 9 through 12 is expected to increase by 15 percent or more in the District of Columbia and six states (North Dakota, Idaho, Utah, Texas, Wyoming, and Nevada), but it is projected to decrease by 10 percent or more in five states (New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, and Vermont).


Glossary Terms

Data Source

Common Core of Data (CCD)