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Selected Findings: 2009–10

  • There were 98,817 operating public elementary/secondary schools in the 2009–10 school year (table 1). In this school year, 1,822 schools were closed and 1,826 new schools were opened. Most operating schools were regular schools (89,018) that were responsible for instruction in the standard curriculum as well as other areas. An additional total of 2,089 schools focused primarily on special education services; 1,417 schools were identified as vocational schools; and 6,293 were identified as alternative education schools.
  • In 2009–10, 40 states and the District of Columbia authorized charter schools, and 32 states and the District of Columbia designated magnet schools (table 2). Charter schools enrolled more than 1.6 million students, and magnet schools enrolled more than 1.5 million students in 2009–10 (table 3).
  • Across all regular public schools that had membership, the overall pupil/teacher ratio in 2009–10 was 16.1 (table 4), compared to 15.8 in 2008–09 (Chen 2010). In the 2009–10 school year, the ratio ranged from 10.9 in Vermont to 23.5 in Utah. This is the number of students for each full-time equivalent (FTE)3 teacher. The pupil/teacher ratio differed across school instructional levels: it was 16.0 in primary; 15.7 in middle; and 16.6 in high schools.
  • School size differed by instructional level in 2009–10. On average, primary schools had 451 students in membership, middle schools had 575 students, and high schools had 856 students (table 5).
  • More schools (29,257) were in rural locations than in any other locale in 2009–10. An additional 22,486 were in cities; 24,441 schools were in suburban areas; and 22,486 were in cities; 11,998 were in towns (table 6). In contrast, the largest percentage of students attended suburban schools (34 percent), followed by schools in cities (29 percent), rural areas (24 percent), and towns (12 percent). These distributions were similar to those in 2008–09 (Chen 2010).
  • Eligibility for free or reduced-price lunch under the National School Lunch Program is sometimes used as a proxy measure of poverty. Across the reporting states and the District of Columbia, on average, 47 percent of students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch in 2009–10 (table 7), compared to the 45 percent reported in 2008–09 (Chen 2010). In 2009–10, the percentage of eligibility ranged from a low of 23 percent in New Hampshire to a high of 72 percent in District of Columbia. By locale, 59 percent of students in city schools were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, compared to 51 percent in towns, 43 percent in rural areas, and 39 percent in suburban areas.

3 FTE is the amount of time required to perform an assignment stated as a proportion of a full-time position.