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Annual Condition of Education Shows Historic Decline in Total Public School Enrollment Between Fall 2019 and Fall 2020
May 31, 2022

Decrease in enrollment during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic erased a decade of steady enrollment growth in nation’s public schools

WASHINGTON (May 31, 2022)—Total public elementary and secondary school enrollment for prekindergarten through grade 12 students declined 3 percent between fall 2019 and fall 2020, erasing a decade of steady growth, according to The Condition of Education 2022, an annual report to Congress released today by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). This was the largest single-year decline in total public school enrollment since 1943. This decrease in enrollment during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic was concentrated in lower grades. Looking specifically at the youngest children, overall enrollment rates (across public and private schools) fell 13 percentage points for 3- to 4-year-olds (from 54 to 40 percent).

The Condition of Education is part of a 150-year tradition at NCES, and provides historical and contextual perspective on key measures of educational progress to Congress and the American public,” said NCES Commissioner Peggy G. Carr. “This year’s report reaffirms the mission of the National Center for Education Statistics to provide the nation with data on the condition and progress of education, and sheds new light on the major disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic for all levels of education.”

The Condition of Education summarizes the latest data on education in the United States and contains key indicators on all levels of education (prekindergarten through postsecondary), labor force outcomes, and international comparisons. The indicators summarize important developments and trends in education using the latest statistics. The Condition of Education includes a total 88 indicators, 52 of which were updated this year, on the condition of education in the United States at all levels and uses data from across NCES and from other sources to help inform policymakers and the public about significant trends and topics in education.

Annual indicators include pandemic-era data for school enrollments from early childhood through postsecondary education, as well as postsecondary finance data and labor force outcomes. New, pre-pandemic analyses are also available for high school course completion data and NAEP long-term trend assessment performance. In addition to annual indicators, this year’s Condition features a closer look at how the pandemic might have influenced education choices and school enrollment.

The full report can be viewed at The Condition of Education is a compilation of statistical information collected and assembled from other statistical products. For more information on the data sources, please visit

Key Findings:

Preprimary, Elementary, and Secondary Education

Postsecondary Education

Population Characteristics and Economic Outcomes

International Comparisons


The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System, is the statistical center of the U.S. Department of Education and the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations. NCES, located within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), fulfills a congressional mandate to collect, collate, analyze, and report complete statistics on the condition of American education; conduct and publish reports; and review and report on education activities internationally.

The Report on the Condition of Education is a congressionally mandated annual report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Using the most recent data available from NCES and other sources, the report contains key indicators on the condition of education in the United States at all levels, from prekindergarten through postsecondary, as well as labor force outcomes and international comparisons. There are core indicators that are updated every year and spotlight indicators that provide in-depth analyses on topics of interest to education systems, policymakers, researchers, and the public

Contact: National Center for Education Statistics
Annual Reports and Information Staff or James Elias, Hager Sharp,