Enrollment rankings: A look at the 2030 forecast for all 50 states

Schools experienced the biggest drop in enrollment since World War II between fall 2019 and fall 2020.
By: | June 6, 2022
The 2022 Condition of Education analysis projects enrollment declines in a majority of states through 2030. (Graphic: National Center for Education Statistics)The 2022 Condition of Education analysis projects enrollment declines in a majority of states through 2030. (Graphic: National Center for Education Statistics)

The first year of COVID wiped out a decade of enrollment growth in the nation’s public schools, according to the first nationwide tabulation of the pandemic’s impacts on attendance.

Enrollment in prekindergarten through grade 12 dropped from 50.8 million students in fall 2019 to 49.4 million in fall 2020, a 3% drop that brought total enrollment back to 2009 levels, according to the 2022 edition of the annual “Condition of Education” analysis by the National Center for Education Statistics. Though enrollment actually increased in some states and some grade levels, this was still the biggest drop in enrollment since World War II, when the decline primarily impacted high schools. Here’s a breakdown of some of 2009-to-2020 trends:

  • From 2019 to 2020, enrollment rates of young children fell by 6 percentage points for 5-year-olds (from 91% to 84%) and by 13 percentage points for 3- to 4-year-olds (from 54% to 40%).
  • Enrollment in pre-K through grade 8 increased by 3% (from 34.4 million to 35.6 million) from fall 2019 to 2020 and then dropped 4% to 34.1 million students in fall 2020.
  • Enrollment in grades 9 through 12 increased 2% between fall 2009 (15.0 million) and fall 2019 (15.2 million) and continued to increase in fall 2020 to 15.3 million.

The report examined several other aspects of K-12 education, such as rates of violence. The number of school shootings surged to 146 in 2021 from 114 in 2020. The number of shootings where deaths occurred also increased, to 43 from 27.


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“Considering last week’s tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, this data also shines a light on a dark truth—the growing prevalence of gun violence in our schools,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement on the shooting statistics. “I am ashamed that we as a country are becoming desensitized to these horrific tragedies. The time for thoughts and prayers alone is over. We need legislative action.”

The report also examined homeschooling as a “spotlight indicator” of the state of U.S. education. The Household Pulse Survey portion of the report found that nearly 7% of adults reported homeschooling at least one child in 2020–21, with the percentage highest among white and Hispanic Americans.

Enrollment slide ahead

Enrollment is projected to fall further, by about 4%, through 2030 as the school-aged population is expected to keep shrinking. Whereas half of U.S. states actually saw increases from 2009 to 2020, the future declines will be far more widespread, the analysis found. Enrollment in pre-K through grade 8 is projected to decrease by 5% with high school enrollment falling by 2%.

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Here’s a state-by-state look at the 2030 projections, from the biggest expected declines to the largest gains:

  1. West Virginia: -20%
  2. Mississippi: -18%
  3. New Mexico: -17%
  4. New Hampshire: -14%
  5. California: -11%
  6. Missouri: -10%
  7. Hawaii: -10%
  8. Vermont: -9%
  9. Kansas: -9%
  10. New York: -8%
  11. Colorado: -7%
  12. Michigan: -7%
  13. Georgia: -7%
  14. Oregon: -7%
  15. Connecticut: -7%
  16. Montana: -6%
  17. Rhode Island: -6%
  18. Maine: -6%
  19. Wisconsin: -6%
  20. Virginia: -6%
  21. Washington: -5%
  22. Kentucky: -5%
  23. New Jersey: -5%
  24. Illinois: -5%
  25. Pennsylvania: -5%
  26. Massachusetts: -5%
  27. Wyoming: -4%
  28. Louisiana: -3%
  29. Florida: -3%
  30. Ohio: -3%
  31. Maryland: -3%
  32. Indiana: -2%
  33. Nevada: -1%
  34. Texas: -1%
  35. Alaska: -1%
  36. Delaware: 0%
  37. Oklahoma: 0%
  38. Iowa: 0%
  39. Arkansas: 0%
  40. South Carolina: +1%
  41. North Carolina: +1%
  42. Alabama: +1%
  43. Idaho: +1%
  44. Nebraska: +1%
  45. Arizona: +3%
  46. Minnesota: +4%
  47. South Dakota: +4%
  48. Tennessee: +5%
  49. Washington, D.C.: +5%
  50. North Dakota: +7%
  51. Utah: +9%