School & District Management

Statistics Update: New Trends in Enrollment, Virtual Schooling, and Special Education

By Maya Riser-Kositsky & Debra Viadero — August 03, 2022 1 min read
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Here’s a quiz: How many public and private schools are in the United States? What’s the average tenure of a big-city superintendent? How much do states spend on average each year per pupil?

The answers (130,930, six years, and $13,679, respectively) can be found on Education Week’s statistics pages. EdWeek librarians regularly gather statistics like these for both general education and special education and revise them periodically. The most recent revision surfaced new data on virtual schooling, student enrollment, and the share of students in special education.

Here are three changes from the latest go-round:

  • There were 691 virtual schools in 2019-20, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That’s before the pandemic took hold, so the number has likely changed. But it’s the most recent data available. By comparison, 21 percent of public schools offered online courses in 2017-18.
  • The average enrollment of city and rural schools is inching up. The average number of students in city schools rose from 585 in 2018 to 588 students in 2019, the most recent year available. Rural schools grew from an average of 364 students in 2018 to 368 a year later. Average enrollment in suburban schools, meanwhile, declined, dropping from 656 in 2018 to 654 in 2019.
  • The percent of special education students rose in states with the smallest percentage (Hawaii and Texas with 11.3 percent) and the largest percentage (New York with 20.5 percent) of these students in 2020-21. Texas previously had the smallest share with 10.8 percent of students in special education in 2019-20. New York had the largest, with 19.9 percent.

Finally, just for fun, can you guess the 10 public school districts with the largest enrollments? The chart below has the answers.

RankDistrict nameState Enrollment
1New York CityNY960,484
2Los Angeles UnifiedCA495,255
3ChicagoIL359,476
4Miami-Dade CountyFL350,434
5Clark CountyNV330,225
6Broward CountyFL270,978
7Hillsborough CountyFL220,252
8HoustonTX209,772
9Orange CountyFL208,203
10Palm Beach CountyFL192,533

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