Post Covid Schooling: Digital Learning and Charter Schools Up; Catholic School enrollment declines

Press Release
Jul 26, 2022

Rockville MD July 26, 2022 – After one and a half years of disruptive learning, nearly 100% of Prek-12 students returned to school full time by the third quarter of 2021.   

That’s one of the findings of SIMBA’s just-published report PreK-12 Enrollment and Demographics 2022-2023, which examines data, trends, and outlook for students enrolled in public and private schools in the US.  Along with broader enrollment and demographic trends, the report identifies how COVID has impacted enrollment, and other key drivers. 

For example, digital and online learning, which surged during the pandemic, continues to grow and play a major role in US schools, and is spurring the federal government to ensure uninterrupted internet connections. The FCC is pushing for 1Mbps per student bandwidth goal; as of late 2021 59% of districts or 18.8 million students and 7,675 school districts met or exceeded that goal. This focus on online and digital learning also is necessitating a corresponding increase in the availability and use of digital learning materials.

The report also identifies the total numbers of enrolled students and schools. In the 2020-2021 school year, there were 19,254 public school districts and 98,609 public schools. California has the highest number with 10,328 public school, followed by Texas with 9,002 and then New York with 4,807. Enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools trended up from 47.2 million in 2020 to 50.6 million in 2021, a 7.3% increase. That growth has been driven by increasing birth rates, immigration and expanding access to prekindergarten. The report also reveals that total public school enrollment is expected to increase at a slower rate through fall 2030.

Changes in enrollment of certain types of schools are also examined. For example, homeschooling, charter schools and virtual schools all reported enrollment increases during the pandemic. Charter schools in particular continue to grow rapidly: in 2020-2021 there were 7,644 charter schools serving 3.5 million students; in 2019-2020 there were 7,547 charter schools serving 3.4 million students. This increase is a continuation of a larger trend: in 2000 there were 1,993 charter schools serving just 448,000 students.

Overall, though private school enrollment dropped from a total of 11.6% of students in 2000 down to 10.1% in 2019, (representing 5.7 million students; remaining the same number as it was in 2018). Other trends include a declining enrollment in Catholic schools, and an increasing support for the notion of school choice.

Simba’s new report identifies other trends as well of importance to those serving the educational market. For example, the study found that the growth in ELL (English Language Learners) was growing with 5.1 million students in the 2019-2020 school year. Overall graduation rates recently increased as well.

Some negative trends are also surfaced in the report. One is the problem of dropping out or disenrollment, notably highest in preschool and kindergarten, which has created long lasting serious fiscal consequences for schools. The report also notes that efforts to provide universal PreK is moving slowly, declining in the 2019-2020 to 2020-2021 years in nearly every state. Furthermore, socioeconomic gaps have widened as students who did not have access to computers, reliable connectivity, and productive instruction fell further behind their better-situated schoolmates. The report notes that these factors might stimulate the market for products that can remediate learning gaps and address standards across multiple grade levels as traditional schooling resumes

About Simba Information

Simba Information is widely recognized as the authority for market intelligence in the media and publishing industries. Its extensive information network delivers top quality, independent perspectives on the people, events and alliances shaping the industry. Simba routinely assists clients and the press with publishing and media industry analysis. Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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