School enrollment collapsed in fall 2020, the biggest drop since 1943

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Schools have seen the biggest single-year drop in enrollment since World War II in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, new data from the State of Education 2022 report shows. National Center for Education Statistics.

Each year, the Congress-mandated report contains the most up-to-date data on public school enrollment, demographics, outcomes, and family characteristics to help educators, lawmakers, and researchers better understand the state of the education in the United States.

This year’s report, published May 31st, marked the first time NCES examined the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education. The report examines data from fall 2019 to fall 2020, telling what happened when schools closed and tried to reopen.

“We know that COVID-19 has disrupted our schools and colleges, and this report is an important reminder of the work that remains to be done on the road to recovery,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, in a statement.

Fall 2019 to Fall 2020, total K-12 public school enrollment the grade fell 3%, from 50.8 million to 49.4 million students, according to the report. The drop erased a decade of growth by bringing public school enrollment back to 2009 levels. It’s the biggest single-year drop since 1943, when schools were operating amid World War II, according to The report.

The report also shows the impact of the pandemic on student learning. Long-term trend results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress show that 13-year-olds performed worse in reading and math than 13-year-olds in 2012. This was the first time that these Scores fell for this age group between the two administrations of the tests, in 2012 and 2020, according to the report.

The average scores of 9-year-olds who took the NAEP tests in 2020 were not significantly different from the age group scores in 2012, according to the report.

“The urgency of the Ministry of Education has gone from opening establishments to, now, maintaining them; provide necessary academic, financial and mental health supports for students and families; and strengthening our K-12 and post-secondary education systems, Cardona said.

The report also includes data on school choice, gun violence, homeschooling, and more. Here are some takeaways:

  • Early Childhood Education: In fall 2020, 40% of 3- and 4-year-olds were enrolled in the public school system, down 14 percentage points from the 54% who were enrolled in fall 2019. The percentage of children 5-year-olds enrolled dropped from 91% to 84%.
  • Home schooling: In the 2020-2021 school year, 5.4% of children aged 5 to 17 were home-schooled, according to the House Pulse survey, which NCES used to collect data in August 2021. The number is higher than in previous years, with 2.8% of students having been home-schooled as of 2019, according to the National Household Education Survey, which is carried out every seven years.
  • Choice of school: From fall 2009 to fall 2019, the percentage of all public charter school students increased from 3% to 7%, according to the report. While total public school enrollment increased from fall 2009 to fall 2019, the year for which the most recent data is available, the number of students in traditional public schools declined. 500,000 during this decade. Enrollment in private schools has remained stable over the decade, with about 9% of all students attending private school each year from fall 2009 to fall 2019.
  • Violence at school: There were 146 school shootings in the 2020-21 school year, down from 114 in 2019-20, the first year of the pandemic, according to data from the Center for Education’s K-12 School Shooting Database. Homeland Defense and Security, which is cited in the report. According to the report, 43 of the shootings in 2020-21 resulted in deaths while 27 of the shootings in 2019-20 were fatal. The federal database defines a school shooting as any time a firearm “is brandished, fired, or a bullet strikes school property for any reason,” according to the tracker’s website. . (Education Week reports more recent data wehis own incident tracking methodology on his School Shooting Tracker.)
  • English language learners: English learners made up 10.4% of the total public school population in fall 2019, up from the 9.2% of students learning English in 2010, according to the report.
  • Students with disabilities: The percentage of students served by the Education for Persons with Disabilities Act has increased from 13% in 2009-2010 to 15% by the end of 2020-21.
  • School demographics: White students represented 45.76% of all students in fall 2020, down slightly from 46.41% of white students in fall 2019. White students were followed by Hispanic students, who represented 28% of total enrollment, and black students, who made up nearly 15% of total enrollment, two slight increases from fall 2019 numbers.
  • Family characteristics: In 2020, 16% of children under 18 were from families living in poverty, according to 2020 US Census data cited in the report. The rate is down 5 percentage points from 2010, when 21% of students lived in poverty. In 2021, 8% of children lived in households where neither parent had completed high school, also down from the 11% of children without parents who had completed high school in 2010.
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