Reports of the death of public schools may have been premature, if new federal enrollment statistics are anything to go by.
After relatively flat enrollment through the end of the 2000s, public K-12 enrollment started to tick up again in 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics’ Digest of Education Statistics, 2014, the 50th in the the series of annual and biennial reports compiling education data.
NCES predicts total K-12 enrollment will continue to grow from 55 million students today to an an all-time high of 57.9 million by 2024, with secondary school enrollment rising 3 percent in that period.
“The enrollment trends are a really important indicator,” said Tom Snyder, NCES program director for annual reports like the digest. “The elementary enrollments have been primarily about demographics, because 99 percent of children in that age group are enrolled. But in terms of high school, we’ve had increased graduation rates, so more young people are remaining in school longer, too.”
The rate of 16- to 24-year-olds who had not completed high school and were not in school dropped from 12.1 percent in 1990 to 6.8 percent in 2013.
As the chart below shows, enrollment patterns varied significantly by state from 2007 to 2012:
The full Digest of Education Statistics includes data on changes in preschool, K-12 and postsecondary enrollment, structure and student outcomes. While the early digest, with started in the 1960s, contained mainly basic demographic information, Snyder said, the current digest includes longitudinal data as well as more detailed assessment data and information about different types of schools and students.
“We have a lot more information about the quality of the education systems and the experiences of the students, so, we’ve come a long way just in terms of the wealth of data,” Snyder said.
For more on how special education enrollment has fared during this period, check out my colleague Christina Samuels’ coverage over at On Special Education.
Institute of Education Sciences Launches New Web Site
The new data is rolling out amid a massive Web site redesign for NCES and the Institute of Education Sciences as a whole.
The overhaul is intended to help educators, researchers and the public find and use its data and studies more easily, particularly on mobile devices.
The new sites will include topic pages consolidating data and research, as well as more detailed training seminar calendars for researchers.
Later this month, the agency plans to launch a Facebook page, and it will launch a new version of the What works Clearinghouse in fall.
Chart: The National Center for Education Statistics found public school enrollment patterns varied significantly state to state from 2007 to 2012. Source: NCES
A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.