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Indicators

Elementary and Secondary Enrollment
(Last Updated: May 2018)

Between fall 2015 and fall 2027, total public school enrollment in prekindergarten through grade 12 is projected to increase by 3 percent (from 50.4 million to 52.1 million students), with changes across states ranging from an increase of 28 percent in the District of Columbia to a decrease of 12 percent in Connecticut.

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 2016

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 2016


NOTE: This figure includes enrollment in traditional public, public charter, parochial, and other private schools, including nursery schools, kindergartens, and elementary and secondary schools.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October Supplement, 2000 through 2016. See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 103.20.


Between October 2000 and October 2016, the enrollment rate for students ages 5–6, who are typically enrolled in kindergarten or grade 1, decreased from 96 to 93 percent. In contrast, the enrollment rate increased during this period for students ages 18–19 in secondary education (from 16 to 19 percent) and did not change measurably for students ages 3–4, 7–13, 14–15, and 16–17.


Figure 2. Actual and projected public school enrollment, by level: Fall 2000 through fall 2027

Figure 2. Actual and projected public school enrollment, by level: Fall 2000 through fall 2027


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). Prekindergarten enrollment for California and Oregon were imputed for fall 2015. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.
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 2015–16; and National Elementary and Secondary Enrollment Projection Model, 1972 through 2027. See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 203.10.


Between fall 2000 and fall 2015, total enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools (prekindergarten [preK] through grade 12)1 increased by 7 percent, reaching 50.4 million students. Of those 50.4 million students enrolled, 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 2015, reaching 35.4 million students. Enrollment in grades 9 through 12 increased by 12 percent between fall 2000 and fall 2007, to 15.1 million students, and remained at 15.1 million students in fall 2015.

Total public school enrollment is projected to continue increasing through fall 2027 (the last year for which projected data are available). From fall 2015 to fall 2027, total public school enrollment is projected to increase by 3 percent to 52.1 million students. During this period, public school enrollment in preK through grade 8 is projected to increase by 4 percent to 36.7 million students. Enrollment in grades 9 through 12 is projected to increase by 4 percent to 15.6 million students between fall 2015 and fall 2023 and then decline by 1 percent to 15.4 million students in fall 2027.


Figure 3. Percentage change in public elementary and secondary school enrollment, by state: Fall 2000 to fall 2015

Figure 3. Percentage change in public elementary and secondary school enrollment, by state: Fall 2000 to fall 2015


# Rounds to zero.
NOTE: Categorizations are based on unrounded percentages. Prekindergarten enrollment for California and Oregon were imputed for fall 2015.
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 2015–16. See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 203.20.


Changes in public elementary and secondary school enrollment varied by state. Total public school enrollment in preK through grade 12 was higher in fall 2015 than in fall 2000 for 31 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). Total public school enrollment in preK through grade 12 was lower in fall 2015 than in fall 2000 for the other 19 states, with decreases of 10 percent or more occurring in four states (Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont).


Figure 4. Projected percentage change in public elementary and secondary school enrollment, by state: Fall 2015 to fall 2027

Figure 4. Projected percentage change in public elementary and secondary school enrollment, by state: Fall 2015 to fall 2027


# Rounds to zero.
NOTE: Categorizations are based on unrounded percentages. Prekindergarten enrollment for California and Oregon were imputed for fall 2015.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), “State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/ Secondary Education,” 2015–16; and State Public Elementary and Secondary Enrollment Projection Model, 1972 through 2027. See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 203.20.


Total public school enrollment is projected to be higher in fall 2027 than in fall 2015 in the District of Columbia and 33 states, all of which are located in the South, the West, or the Midwest. Total public school enrollment is projected to be lower in fall 2027 than in fall 2015 in the other 17 states, most of which are located in the Northeast. During this period, the District of Columbia is projected to have the largest increase (28 percent) in total enrollment, while the state with the largest projected increase is North Dakota (27 percent). Connecticut and New Hampshire are projected to have the largest decreases in total public school enrollment (12 and 10 percent, respectively). In fall 2015, total public school enrollment ranged from fewer than 100,000 students in the District of Columbia (84,024), Vermont (87,866 students), and Wyoming (94,717 students), to 5.2 million students in Texas and 6.3 million students in California. In fall 2027, only Vermont (79,716 students) is projected to have fewer than 100,000 students. Texas is projected to have the largest total public school enrollment in fall 2027 (6.1 million students), followed by California (6.0 million students).

Reflecting the projected total public school enrollment increase between fall 2015 and fall 2027, some 28 states and the District of Columbia are projected to have enrollment increases in both preK through grade 8 and grades 9 through 12. However, 17 other states are projected to have enrollment decreases in both grade ranges. Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, and Tennessee are projected to have enrollment increases in preK through grade 8 but enrollment decreases in grades 9 through 12. Enrollment in preK through grade 8 is projected to be at least 15 percent higher in fall 2027 than in fall 2015 in the District of Columbia and three states (Florida, Washington, and North Dakota), while enrollment is projected to be 11 percent lower in fall 2027 than in fall 2015 in Connecticut. During the same time period, enrollment in grades 9 through 12 is projected to be at least 15 percent higher in the District of Columbia and six states (Utah, Texas, Washington, Florida, Nevada, and North Dakota) but is projected to be at least 10 percent lower in six states (Maine, West Virginia, Vermont, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Connecticut).


1 Throughout the rest of the indicator, public elementary and secondary enrollment includes ungraded students for all years. This also includes a small number of students reported as being enrolled in grade 13, who were counted as enrolled in grades 9 through 12. Prekindergarten enrollment for California and Oregon were imputed for fall 2015.


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