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Public School Fall 2022 Enrollment Counts Remain Below Fall 2019

February 5, 2024

While enrollment in higher grades has rebounded, figure for earlier grades remains lower

WASHINGTON (February 5, 2024) — Prekindergarten through 12th-grade public school enrollment in the 50 states and the District of Columbia reached 49.6 million for the fall of 2022, according to new data released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the statistical center within the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES). The fall 2022 total enrollment counts show an increase of less than 1 percent compared to fall 2021 counts but a 2 percent decline from the 2019 level.

Changes in enrollment at different grade levels varied since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. In the 50 states and the District of Columbia, prekindergarten through grade 8 enrollment was about 34.1 million students, or 4 percent below fall 2019 enrollment for these grades. For grades 9 through 12, enrollment increased by about 2 percent over the same period, from 15.2 to 15.5 million.

“The information we are sharing from NCES’s Common Core of Data provides a valuable snapshot of student enrollment trends in public education,“ said NCES Commissioner Peggy G. Carr. “Total public school enrollment is still down, by about 1.2 million students, when compared with data collected just before the pandemic, but it was stable from 2021 to 2022. This points to a continuously changing school enrollment landscape. With the Private School Universe Survey and National Household Education Survey set to be released later this year, we will continue to learn more about these changing dynamics.”

The release from NCES’s Common Core of Data(CCD) provides data on public elementary and secondary schools, local education agencies, and state education agencies across the United States and outlying areas. The data include public student enrollment counts available by grade level, race/ethnicity, sex, and eligibility for free and reduced priced lunch. In addition to student data, the CCD provides data on teacher and staff counts.

Figure 1. Percentage Change in Public School Enrollment Between Fall 2019 and 2022

Figure 1. Percentage Change in Public School Enrollment Between Fall 2019 and 2022
NOTE: "Fall 2019 enrollment for California and fall 2022 enrollment for California and Orgon include imputations for non reported prekindergarten enrollment.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/Secondary Education," 2019-20 and 2022-23; Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Data Center, Enrollment Data, fall 2019 and fall 2022, retrieved December 12, 2022, from https://dodea.edu/education/research-accountability-and-evaluation/enrollment-management.

The CCD data show that enrollment has also varied by state. Total enrollment in public schools declined by more than 4 percent in 14 states from fall 2019 to fall 2022, with the largest drops (more than 5 percent) observed for California, Hawaii, Mississippi, New York, and Oregon. At the same time, Idaho and North Dakota saw total enrollment climb by about 2 percent between those years.

Within outlying areas and jurisdictions, fall 2022 enrollment also remained below pre-pandemic levels. In Puerto Rico, the total fall 2022 public school enrollment was 251,000, a decrease of 14 percent from fall 2019. A difference between fall 2022 and fall 2019 enrollment was also observed in Department of Defense Education Activity (-12 percent) schools, the U.S. Virgin Islands (-7 percent), and Bureau of Indian Education schools (-4 percent).

Key Findings

Public School Student Enrollment

  • In the U.S., between fall 2021 and 2022:
    • Total enrollment increased by 0.4 percent.
    • Prekindergarten through grade 8 enrollment increased by 0.2 percent.
    • Enrollment in grades 9 through 12 increased by 0.7 percent.
  • Within states:
    • A decline in enrollment of over 1 percent was observed in Hawaii and Colorado.
    • Louisiana (5 percent) and the District of Columbia (2 percent) had the largest increases.
  • Outlying Areas and jurisdictions:
    • Bureau of Indian Education enrollment increased by 13 percent.
    • Department of Defense Education Activity enrollment decreased by 8 percent. Enrollment counts also decreased in Puerto Rico by 3 percent and in the Northern Marianas by 1 percent.

Figure 2. Percentage Change in Public School Enrollment Between Fall 2021 and 2022

Figure 2. Percentage Change in Public School Enrollment Between Fall 2021 and 2022
NOTE: "Fall 2021 and fall 2022 enrollment for California and Oregon include imputations for nonreported prekindergarten enrollment.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/Secondary Education," 2021–22 and 2022–23; Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Data Center, Enrollment Data, fall 2021 and fall 2022, retrieved December 12, 2022, from https://dodea.edu/education/research-accountability-and-evaluation/enrollment-management.
  • U.S. fall 2022 race/ethnicity enrollment percentage distributions
    • American Indian/Alaska Native - 0.9 percent
    • Asian - 5.5 percent
    • Black - 14.9 percent
    • Hispanic - 28.9 percent
    • Pacific Islander - 0.4 percent
    • White - 44.5 percent
    • Two or more races - 4.9 percent
  • U.S. fall average 2022 Pupil/teacher ratio – 15.4

Numbers of Operational Public Elementary and Secondary Schools and Agencies by Type

  • U.S. 2022-23 public school types
    • Regular - 90,604
    • Special education - 1,882
    • Career and technical - 1,571
    • Alternative education - 5,352
  • U.S. 2022-23 charter schools- 7,999
  • U.S. 2022-23 local education agency (LEA) types
    • Regular school districts - 13,318
    • Supervisory unions - 112
    • Service agencies - 1,131
    • Independent charter agencies - 4,208
    • State agencies - 191
    • Federal and other agencies - 244

The data released may be accessed in multiple formats. Along with the universe files, four tabulations summarizing the number and status of schools and local education agencies, as well as several CCD indicators by state, are available.

Additionally, data released may also be accessed through NCES’s Elementary/Secondary Information System (ElSi) data tool. Data on national trends may also be accessed through the Digest of Education.

Technical Note

The Common Core of Data is a national statistical program that collects and compiles administrative data from state education agencies covering the universe of all public elementary and secondary schools and school districts in the United States.

The School Year 2022-23 CCD universe files are the U.S. Department of Education's primary data release on public elementary and secondary education, including data from 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools, Puerto Rico, Northern Marianas, and U.S. Virgin Islands.

Data from Guam and American Samoa were not available as of the submission deadline.

All CCD nonfiscal universe data are submitted by state education agencies (SEAs) to the Department of Education through EDFacts. EDFacts centralizes performance data supplied by PK-12 SEAs with other data assets within the Department, such as financial grant information, to enable better analysis and use in policy development, planning, and management.

All data in EDFacts are reported by SEAs using defined file specifications. The files specifications provide the detailed definitions and guidance to SEAs for reporting certain data groups. All the EDFacts file specifications are posted on the EDFacts initiative website: https://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/edfacts/file-specifications.html.

For analytical purposes, the member LEAs within the New York City supervisory union are reported as a single LEA. Refer to the EDFacts Directory (FS029) file specifications for additional information on the relationship between the CCD directory variables UNION and LEA_TYPE (https://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/edfacts/file-specifications.html).

Trend analyses include imputations for nonreported prekindergarten enrollment. Data for the United States represent the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Definitions

Federal-operated agency – A federal agency that is charged, at least in part, with providing elementary or secondary instruction or support services.

Independent charter agency – An agency that contains only charter schools. Other charter schools may be reported through a different LEA type that contains both charter and non-charter schools.

Regular school district – A locally governed agency responsible for providing free public elementary or secondary education; includes independent school districts and those that are a dependent segment of a local government such as a city or county.

Operating school – A school providing services as of the start of the reported school year.

State-operated agency – An agency that is charged, at least in part, with providing elementary and/or secondary instruction or support services. Includes the State Education Agency if this agency operates schools. Examples include elementary/secondary schools operated by the state for the deaf or blind; and programs operated by state correctional facilities.

Supervisory union – An education agency that performs administrative services for more than one school district, providing a common superintendent for participating districts.

Service agency – Includes agencies that do not operate schools but instead provide specialized educational services or related services (such as services in IEPs) to other education agencies that those agencies cannot provide themselves. Also includes specialized public school districts that operate one or more schools for a specific education need or purpose.

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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 fulfills a congressional mandate to collect, collate, analyze, and report complete statistics on the condition and progress of American education; conduct and publish reports; and review and report on education activities internationally.

Follow NCES on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube and subscribe to the NCES Newsflash to receive email notifications when new data are released.

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is the independent and nonpartisan statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education. Its mission is to provide scientific evidence on which to ground education practice and policy and to share this information in formats that are useful and accessible to educators, parents, policymakers, researchers, and the public.

CONTACT:
Josh De La Rosa, National Center for Education Statistics, ARIS.NCES@ed.gov
Erik Robelen, Hager Sharp, erobelen@hagersharp.com