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Indicators

Elementary and Secondary Enrollment
(Last Updated: May 2017)

Between fall 2014 and fall 2026, total public school enrollment in prekindergarten through grade 12 is projected to increase by 3 percent (from 50.3 million to 51.7 million students), with changes across states ranging from an increase of 42 percent in the District of Columbia to a decrease of 14 percent in Connecticut.

Changes in elementary and secondary school enrollment are largely reflective of demographic changes in the population. This indicator discusses changes in the overall enrollment rate at schools of any type (including traditional public, public charter, parochial, and other private schools) as well as changes in the number of students enrolled in public schools specifically (including both traditional public schools and public charter schools). Overall enrollment rates are calculated using data from the Current Population Survey (CPS); public school enrollment is calculated using data from the Common Core of Data (CCD).


Figure 1. Percentage of the population ages 3–19 enrolled in any type of elementary or secondary school, by age group: October 2000 to October 2015

Figure 1. Percentage of the population ages 3–19 enrolled in any type of elementary or secondary school, by age group: October 2000 to October 2015

NOTE: This figure includes enrollment in traditional public, public charter, parochial, and other private schools, including nursery schools, kindergartens, elementary schools, and high schools.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October Supplement, 2000 through 2015. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 103.20.


Shifts in the overall enrollment rates in schools of any type varied by age group. From October 2000 to October 2015, the enrollment rate for students ages 5–6, who are typically enrolled in kindergarten or grade 1, decreased from 96 to 94 percent, and the enrollment rate for students ages 7–13 decreased by less than 1 percentage point to 98 percent. However, during this period the enrollment rate increased for students ages 18–19 in secondary education (from 16 to 20 percent) and did not change measurably for students ages 3–4, 14–15, and 16–17.


Figure 2. Actual and projected public school enrollment, by level: Fall 2000 through fall 2026

Figure 2. Actual and projected public school enrollment, by level: Fall 2000 through fall 2026

1 Includes students reported as being enrolled in grade 13.
NOTE: The total ungraded counts of students were prorated to the elementary level (prekindergarten through grade 8) and the secondary level (grades 9 through 12).
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/ Secondary Education," 2000–01 through 2014–15; and State Public Elementary and Secondary Enrollment Projection Model, 1972 through 2026. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 203.10.


Between fall 2000 and fall 2014, total enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools (preK through grade 12) increased by 7 percent, reaching 50.3 million students. Of the 50.3 million students enrolled in fall 2014, some 70 percent were enrolled in preK through grade 8, and the remaining 30 percent were enrolled in grades 9 through 12. Enrollment in preK through grade 8 increased by 5 percent from fall 2000 to fall 2014, reaching 35.4 million students. While enrollment in grades 9 through 12 increased by 12 percent between fall 2000 and fall 2007 to 15.1 million students, enrollment in fall 2014 (14.9 million) was 1 percent lower than in fall 2007.

Total public school enrollment is projected to continue increasing through fall 2026 (the last year for which projected data are available). From fall 2014 to fall 2026, total public school enrollment is projected to increase by 3 percent to 51.7 million students. During this period, public school enrollment in preK through grade 8 is projected to increase by 3 percent to 36.4 million students in fall 2026. Meanwhile, enrollment in grades 9 through 12 is projected to increase by 5 percent to 15.6 million between fall 2014 and fall 2022, and then decline by 2 percent to 15.4 million in fall 2026.

Changes in public elementary and secondary school enrollment varied by state. From fall 2000 to fall 2014, total public school enrollment in preK through grade 12 increased in 32 states and the District of Columbia, with increases of 15 percent or more occurring in the District of Columbia and nine states (Delaware, Idaho, North Carolina, Georgia, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Utah, and Nevada). Enrollment declined during this period in the other 18 states, with decreases of 10 percent or more occurring in four states (Michigan, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont).


Figure 3. Projected percentage change in public elementary and secondary school enrollment, by state: Between fall 2014 and fall 2026

Figure 3. Projected percentage change in public elementary and secondary school enrollment, by state: Between fall 2014 and fall 2026

# Rounds to zero.
NOTE: Categorizations are based on unrounded percentages.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/ Secondary Education," 2014–15; and State Public Elementary and Secondary Enrollment Projection Model, 1980 through 2026. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 203.20.


Between fall 2014 and fall 2026, changes in total public school enrollment are projected to differ by state in preK through grade 8 as well as in grades 9 through 12. During this period, the District of Columbia is projected to have the largest increase (42 percent) in total enrollment, while the state with the largest projected increase is North Dakota (28 percent). The states that are projected to have the largest decreases in total public school enrollment are Connecticut and New Hampshire (14 percent each).

Reflecting the projected total public school enrollment increase between fall 2014 and fall 2026, some 30 states and the District of Columbia are projected to have enrollment increases in both preK through grade 8 and in grades 9 through 12. However, in 18 other states, enrollment is projected to decrease in both grade ranges. New Mexico is projected to have an increase in enrollment in preK through grade 8, but a decrease in enrollment in grades 9 through 12; New York is projected to have a decrease in enrollment in preK through grade 8, but an increase in enrollment 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 and three states (North Dakota, Utah, and Arizona), but is projected to decrease by 10 percent or more in three states (Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Maine). During the same time period, enrollment in grades 9 through 12 is projected to increase by 15 percent or more in the District of Columbia and five states (North Dakota, Utah, Nevada, Texas, and Wyoming), but is projected to decrease by 10 percent or more in five states (New Hampshire, Connecticut, Michigan, Maine, and Vermont).


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