According to the Projections for Education Statistics to 2027, published by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), student enrollments for all grades in public schools will increase by 2.1% from 2020 to 2027. Enrollments in grades PK-8 will grow by 2.7%. Enrollments in grades 9-12 will decline by 1.0%. Growth of 2.7% in grades PK-8 represents just under an additional 1 million students (950,600). The decline of 1.0% in grades 9-12 represents just over 156,000 students.
State Populations Are Expected to Shift
The top 10 states projected to increase in enrollment for grades PK-8 represent an average enrollment growth of +6.3% per state, or 3 times the national average. The number of students involved in these 10 states is 809,200 or 85% of all the growth in grades PK-8 for all 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC).
While national public school enrollments are projected to decline for grades 9-12, there are 18 states for which enrollments are projected to increase. Among these, the top 10 states represent an average enrollment growth of 0.6%, or 1.6% better than the national average. The number of students involved in these 10 states is 316,500 or 93% of all the growth in grades 9-12 for all 50 states and DC.
Top Ten States Differ Between Grades PK-8 and 9-12 Enrollment Growth
None of the top ten states projected to have the greatest public school enrollment growth in grades PK-8 are the same as the top ten states projected to have the greatest growth in grades 9-12. The top ten states projected to have the greatest growth in grades PK-8 from greatest growth to least are Texas, Florida, Washington, Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Utah, and Virginia. The top ten states projected to have the greatest growth in grades 9-12 from greatest growth to least are California, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire.
Good News for School Marketers?
Enrollment growth represents a challenge for school administrators. Resources are needed to provide students with an education including but not limited to teaching staff, classrooms, furnishings, textbooks, computers and supporting technology, supplemental materials, physical education facilities and equipment, and much more. Those public schools and districts experiencing significant enrollment growth are considerably better candidates for the sales of educational materials and services than those that are not.
Show Me the Money!
Schools struggling with growing enrollments also need money and not all of them receive a level of funding that enables them to meet their needs. According to the 2018 report by the Education Law Center and Rutgers University entitled Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card, “The majority of states have unfair funding systems with ‘flat’ or ‘regressive’ funding distribution patterns that ignore the need for additional funding in high-poverty districts.”
In spite of this, growth has always been a positive indicator in the education market. Generally speaking, when enrollments grow so do sales of education related products and services. The challenge we face over the next seven years is in developing marketing plans that take advantage of those schools and districts that have the combination of enrollment growth and fiscal resources while at the same time minimizing our exposure to those that do not.
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