|School enrollment drop 'largest in decades,' NCES says|
According to preliminary data from the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics, public school enrollment in 2020-21 fell by 3% compared to the previous year, marking the largest decline since the start of this century, according to researchers. The changes were concentrated in pre-K, which saw a 22% decrease, and kindergarten, which experienced a dip of 9%. Changes also differed by grade groupings, with a 13% decrease in pre-K and kindergarten, a 3% decrease in grades 1-8, and a slight increase of 0.4% in grades 9-12. NCES Acting Commissioner Peggy Carr in a statement called the numbers "preliminary but concerning," noting the enrollment decreases were "widespread and affected almost every single state and every region of the country." Mississippi and Vermont had the largest declines at 5%, according to the NCES analysis, with Washington, New Mexico, Kentucky, New Hampshire and Maine trailing not far behind at 4% or more. The District of Columbia, South Dakota and Utah saw the smallest enrollment drops, at less than 1%. Illinois was the only state to not submit data.