Published: | Updated: January 11, 2019

Education Statistics: Facts About American Schools

How many K-12 public schools, districts, and students are there? What does the American student population look like? And how much are we, as a nation, spending on the education of these youth?

These data points can give perspective to the implications and potential impact of education policies. The Education Week library provides answers to these questions, and some other enlightening facts, below.

This page will be updated when new federal data becomes available.

Jump to a Section: Schools and Districts | Students | Teachers and Principals | School Spending

SCHOOLS AND DISTRICTS


How many schools are there in the U.S.?

There are 132,853 K-12 schools in the U.S., according to 2015-16 data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Here's how they break down:

  • All: 132,853
  • Elementary schools: 88,665
  • Secondary schools: 26,986
  • Combined schools: 16,511
  • Other*: 691
*Includes special education, alternative, and other schools not classified by grade span.

Here's what that looks like in chart form:

How many are traditional public schools, public charter schools, or private schools?

While charter schools are often the topic of debate, they make up only a small portion of all schools.

  • Traditional public schools: 91,422 (2015-16, Source)
  • Public charter schools: 6,855 (2015-16, Source)
  • Private schools: 34,576 (2015-16, Source)

For more on charters, including how they work and who oversees them, read this explainer.

What is the average public school size?

The average public school enrollment is 526 students, according to data from 2015. That's up 6 students from the average school size in 2011, according to NCES.

What is the average public school size by type of location?

  • City: 591 students
  • Suburban: 657 students
  • Town: 445 students
  • Rural: 354 students
  • (2015, Source)

How many schools offer online courses?

According to 2015-16 NCES data, 21.1% of public schools, including charters, offer at least one course entirely online, but of those schools, only 5.7% offered all courses online.

How many school districts are there?

There are 13,584 regular school districts in the U.S. (2015-16, Source)

Note: Regular districts exclude regional education service agencies and supervisory union administrative centers, state-operated agencies, federally operated agencies, and other types of local education agencies, such as independent charter schools.

Where are the largest school districts in the U.S.?

Big cities like New York and Los Angeles lead the list of the largest school districts, as identified by NCES in 2015. But the rest of the top 10 may surprise you:

Rank District name State Enrollment
1 New York City NY 981,667
2 Los Angeles Unified CA 639,337
3 Chicago IL 387,311
4 Miami-Dade County FL 357,579
5 Clark County NV 325,990
6 Broward County FL 269,098
7 Houston TX 215,627
8 Hillsborough County FL 211,923
9 Orange County FL 196,951
10 Palm Beach County FL 189,322

 

What's the average tenure of a big-city superintendent?

Superintendents in large cities stick around for an average of 6 years, according to a report by the Broad Center.

STUDENTS


How many students attend public schools?

In America's public schools there are 50.7 million students, based on federal projections for the fall of 2018.

How many students attend charter schools?

According to data from three years earlier, 2.8 million public school students, or 5.7 percent, are in charter schools.

How many students attend private schools? What are the religious affiliations of those schools?

In total, 5,750,520 students attend private schools, according to NCES 2015-16 data.

  • 36.2% of those in Catholic schools
  • 24.3% in nonsectarian (non-religious) schools
  • 16.0% in un-affiliated religious schools
  • 13.2% in conservative Christian schools
  • 10.2% in other religiously affiliated schools

How many students are homeschooled?

There are 1,689,726 homeschooled students. That's 3.3 percent of all students, according to NCES 2015-16 data. After doubling between 1999 and 2012, the number of homeschooled students in the United States appears to have leveled off. So who are the nation’s homeschoolers? This overview of homeschooling includes more information on the topic.

Where do most students attend school—the city, the suburbs or rural areas?

According to 2015-16 data, the majority of public school students attend suburban schools, but enrollment in urban schools is not far behind.

  • Suburban: 39.7% of public school students
  • City: 30.2% of public school students
  • Rural: 18.7% of public school students
  • Town: 11.3% of public school students

Meanwhile, most private school students attend schools in the city.

  • City: 43.0% of private school students
  • Suburban: 40.2% of private school students
  • Rural: 10.7% of private school students
  • Town: 6.2% of private school students

What are the demographics of public school students?

Here's a racial breakdown of the student population in American public schools, as of 2015:

  • White students: 48.9%
  • Hispanic students: 25.9%
  • Black students: 15.5%
  • Asian students: 5.0%
  • Two or more race students: 3.4%
  • American Indian/Alaska Native students: 1.0%
  • Pacific Islander students: 0.3%

The 2015-16 school year was the first in which the majority of public schoolchildren were minorities. For a look back at what that milestone meant for schools, revisit this story from 2014.

How many students graduate high school?

The national graduation rate is 84 percent, according to the latest data.

How has that changed over time?

The graduation rate has increased by 5 percentage points from 2010-2011 to 2015-2016. What's behind record rises in U.S. graduation rates? More on that here.

How many students graduate in my state?

Hover over a state in this interactive map to see its graduation rate, broken down by demographic groups:

TEACHERS AND PRINCIPALS


How many teachers are there in the U.S.?

In America's public schools there are 3.2 million full-time-equivalent teachers, according to federal projections for the fall of 2018.

How many principals are there?

There are 90,410 public school principals in the U.S., according to 2015-16 data from NCES.

What percent of teachers are women?

Teaching continues to be a profession dominated by women. According to 2018 projections from NCES 76.6 percent of teachers are female, while 23.4 percent are male.

What are the racial demographics of teachers?

When it comes to race, America’s teachers looks very different from its student population.

  • 80.1% White
  • 8.8% Hispanic
  • 6.7% Black
  • 2.3% Asian
  • 1.4% Two or more races
  • 0.4% American Indian/Alaska Native
  • 0.2% Native Hawaiian/ Pacific Islander
  • (2015-16, Source)

For a more detailed look at the profile of America’s teaching force, including average age and years of experience, read this report on the latest federal data.

Who are U.S. public school principals?

Like teachers, most American principals are white and female.

  • 54.2% Female
  • 45.8% Male

  • 77.8% White
  • 10.6% Black
  • 8.2% Hispanic
  • 1.4% Asian
  • 1.1% Two or more races
  • 0.7% American Indian/Alaska Native
  • 0.2% Native Hawaiian/ Pacific Islander
  • (2015-16, Source)

Another finding from the latest federal data: Charter school principals are more diverse. Read more.

What's the average U.S. teacher salary?

The average base salary for teachers is $55,100, according to 2015-16 data from NCES. Of course, teacher salaries vary widely from state to state. Although its findings differ from the federal data, the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers' union, releases an annual ranking of state salaries. Here are the latest numbers.

How does that compare with principals' salaries?

According to data from the same year, the average principal salary is $95,700.

How big are the teachers' unions?

According to NCES data from 2015-16, 69.9 percent of teachers are members of a union.

As of April 2018, the National Education Association has 3,018,492 members who are active educators or retirees.

As of October 2017, the American Federation of Teachers has 1,591,911 members.

What is the average student to teacher ratio in schools?

On average, there are 16 students assigned to a single teacher, NCES projections for fall of 2018 show.

The state with highest student to teacher ratio is, as of 2015, California, with 23.9 students for each teacher. The state with lowest student to teacher ratio? Vermont, with 10.5 students for each teacher.

Note: The pupil/teacher ratio includes teachers for students with disabilities and other special teachers, while these teachers are generally excluded from class size calculations.

SCHOOL SPENDING


How much does the U.S. spend on K-12 education?

In 2014-15, $625 billion was spent on public elementary and secondary education by local, state, and federal agencies.

How much is spent per pupil?

Education Week examines per-pupil spending as part of its annual Quality Counts report. On average, the nation spends $12,536 to educate each student. These expenditures vary state to state. Vermont has the highest per-pupil expenditures in the nation at $20,795, as adjusted for variations in regional costs. At the other end of the scale, Utah spends the least at $7,207 per student.

Hover over a state to see its per-pupil spending, as adjusted for regional cost differences:

Have more education statistics you’d like to see on this page?

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