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Indicators

Public School Enrollment
(Last Updated: May 2019)

Between fall 2016 and fall 2028, total public school enrollment in prekindergarten through grade 12 is projected to increase by 2 percent (from 50.6 million to 51.4 million students), with changes across states ranging from an increase of 23 percent in the District of Columbia to a decrease of 12 percent in Connecticut.

This indicator discusses overall changes in the number of students enrolled in public schools (including both traditional public schools and public charter schools), as well as changes by grade level and by state. In fall 2016, some 50.6 million students were enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools (prekindergarten [preK] through grade 12).1,2 Of these students, 70 percent were enrolled in preK through grade 8, and the remaining 30 percent were enrolled in grades 9 through 12.


Figure 1. Actual and projected public school enrollment, by level: Fall 2000 through fall 2028

Figure 1. Actual and projected public school enrollment, by level: Fall 2000 through fall 2028


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 enrollments for California and Oregon were imputed for fall 2015; prekindergarten enrollment for California was imputed for fall 2016. 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 2016–17; and National Elementary and Secondary Enrollment Projection Model, 1972 through 2028. See Digest of Education Statistics 2018, table 203.10.


Between fall 2000 and fall 2016, total enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools increased by 7 percent, reaching 50.6 million students in fall 2016. During the same period, enrollment in preK through grade 8 increased by 5 percent, reaching 35.5 million students in fall 2016. 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 2016.

Total public school enrollment is projected to continue increasing through fall 2028 (the last year for which projected data are available). From fall 2016 to fall 2028, total public school enrollment is projected to increase by 2 percent to 51.4 million students. During this period, public school enrollment in preK through grade 8 is projected to decrease by 1 percent to 35.2 million students between fall 2016 and fall 2022 and then increase by 3 percent to 36.1 million students in fall 2028. Enrollment in grades 9 through 12 is projected to increase by 5 percent to 15.9 million students between fall 2016 and fall 2023 and then decrease by 3 percent to 15.3 million students in fall 2028.


Figure 2. Percentage change in public elementary and secondary school enrollment, by state: Fall 2000 to fall 2016

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


# Rounds to zero.
NOTE: Categorizations are based on unrounded percentages. Prekindergarten enrollment for California was imputed for fall 2016.
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 and 2016–17. See Digest of Education Statistics 2018, 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 2016 than in fall 2000 for 32 states and the District of Columbia, with increases of 15 percent or more occurring in the District of Columbia and ten states (Florida, Delaware, North Carolina, Idaho, Georgia, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Utah, and Nevada). Total public school enrollment in preK through grade 12 was lower in fall 2016 than in fall 2000 for the other 18 states, with decreases of 10 percent or more occurring in four states (Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont).


Figure 3. Projected percentage change in public elementary and secondary school enrollment, by state: Fall 2016 to fall 2028

Figure 3. Projected percentage change in public elementary and secondary school enrollment, by state: Fall 2016 to fall 2028


# Rounds to zero.
NOTE: Categorizations are based on unrounded percentages. Prekindergarten enrollment for California was imputed for fall 2016.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), “State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/Secondary Education,” 2016–17; and State Public Elementary and Secondary Enrollment Projection Model, 1980 through 2028. See Digest of Education Statistics 2018, table 203.20


Total public school enrollment is projected to be higher in fall 2028 than in fall 2016 in the District of Columbia and 28 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 2028 than in fall 2016 in the other 22 states; 9 of these states are located in the Northeast, 5 states are located in the Midwest, and 4 states each are located in the South and the West. During this period, the District of Columbia is projected to have the largest percentage increase (23 percent) in total enrollment, followed by North Dakota (16 percent). In contrast, Connecticut and New Hampshire are projected to have the largest percentage decreases in total public school enrollment (12 and 11 percent, respectively). In fall 2016, total public school enrollment ranged from fewer than 100,000 students in the District of Columbia (85,900 students), Vermont (88,400 students), and Wyoming (94,200 students), to 5.4 million students in Texas and 6.3 million students in California. In fall 2028, only Vermont (80,400 students) and Wyoming (92,800 students) are projected to have fewer than 100,000 students. California is projected to have the largest total public school enrollment in fall 2028 (6.1 million students), followed by Texas (5.9 million students).

Between fall 2016 and fall 2028, some 25 states and the District of Columbia are projected to have public school enrollment increases in both preK through grade 8 and grades 9 through 12. In contrast, 20 other states are projected to have enrollment decreases in both grade ranges. Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Missouri are projected to have enrollment increases in preK through grade 8 but enrollment decreases in grades 9 through 12. For preK through grade 8, enrollment is projected to be at least 15 percent higher in fall 2028 than in fall 2016 in the District of Columbia (18 percent), while enrollment is projected to be at least 10 percent lower in fall 2028 than in fall 2016 in Connecticut (11 percent). For grades 9 through 12, enrollment is projected to be at least 15 percent higher in fall 2028 than in fall 2016 in South Dakota, Washington, North Dakota, and the District of Columbia, while enrollment is projected to be at least 10 percent lower in fall 2028 than in fall 2016 in Mississippi, Michigan, West Virginia, Connecticut, and New Hampshire.


1 In this 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 enrollments for California and Oregon were imputed for fall 2015; prekindergarten enrollment for California was imputed for fall 2016.
2 This indicator includes public elementary and secondary enrollment in the United States, defined as including the 50 states and the District of Columbia.


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