Here are the brightest spots in enrollment’s rocky recovery

Public school enrollment rebounds in higher grades but continues to lag among younger students and remains behind 2019 levels, newly released data shows.

Public school enrollment has rebounded in higher grades but continues to lag among younger students since the pandemic, and remains behind 2019 levels.

Pre-K through 12 enrollment increased slightly—by just 0.4%—from fall 2021 to fall 2022 to 49.6 million, according to data released Tuesday by the National Center for Education Statistics. And that number is 1% below fall 2019, the year before COVID shut schools for up to a year or more in some districts. Here are some other key numbers:

  • Pre-K through grade 8 enrollment was about 34.1 million students at the beginning of the 2022 school year, or 4% below fall 2019.
  • For grades 9 through 12, enrollment increased by about 2%, from 15.2 million to 15.5 million.

Read more from DA: Is high turnover now leading to higher superintendent salaries?

Fall 2022 was the most recent data for which national data was available. “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,” NCES commissioner Peggy G. Carr said in a news release. “This points to a continuously changing school enrollment landscape.”

A public school enrollment roller coaster

Not all states are experiencing the same shifts in enrollment, which fell by more than 4% in 14 states from fall 2019 to fall 2022. The largest drops—over 5%—occurred in California, Hawaii, Mississippi, New York, and Oregon. In Idaho and North Dakota, however, public school enrollment grew by about 2% while the biggest jump occurred in Louisiana, at 5%.

The Center noted that the national student-to-teacher ratio in fall 2022 was 15.4 to 1, and also recorded the following enrollment levels for racial and ethic groups in public schools:

  • American Indian/Alaska Native – 0.9%
  • Asian – 5.5%
  • Black – 14.9%
  • Hispanic – 28.9%
  • Pacific Islander – 0.4%
  • White – 44.5%
  • Two or more races – 4.9%
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

Most Popular