Enrollment experiences slight increase but remains below pre-pandemic levels

Dive Brief:

  • The enrollment in public schools for the fall of 2022 reached 49.6 million, showing a slight increase of 0.4% compared to the previous year. These figures indicate that the low enrollment levels caused by the pandemic are persisting even years after the closure of school buildings. According to data released Tuesday by the National Center for Education Statistics, the enrollment in pre-K to 12th grade remains 2% lower than the levels in 2019.

  • The changes in enrollment continue to vary between elementary and secondary levels. The enrollment in high school grades has increased by 2% compared to 2019, while the enrollment in pre-K to 8th grade remains 4% below the pre-pandemic levels.

  • Fourteen states have witnessed a decline of more than 4% in enrollment compared to 2019, with the largest drops occurring in California, New York, Hawaii, Mississippi, and Oregon. On the other hand, enrollment has increased in South Dakota, Utah, Louisiana, Delaware, the District of Columbia, North Dakota, and Idaho.

Dive Insight:

Prior to the pandemic, the enrollment for fall 2019 was at 50.8 million.

Following the pandemic, the National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education reported a significant3% decrease in public school enrollment, bringing the number down to 49.4 million in fall 2020. These declines were primarily observed in pre-K and kindergarten.

The experts in enrollment anticipated a rebound in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten enrollments since redshirting or the practice of postponing entrance into K-12 can only continue for a finite time before it becomes illegal.

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