January 9, 2020
It's budget time for many independent schools and with that comes the nebulous task of forecasting enrollment for next year. While you undoubtedly examine your individual school's enrollment trends, you should also be aware of what's happening regionally and nationally with regards to enrollment trends. According to NAIS Trendbook 2018-2019, the 5-year enrollment trend from 2013-2014 to 2018-2019 shows a clear demarcation with declining enrollment in independent school elementary grades and slight increases in enrollment in middle and upper grades.
Enrollment decreases for Kindergarten - 5th grade averaged 5.6%, grades 6-8 saw a slight increase of 2.3% and grades 9-12 saw an increase of 3.8%.
Of particular concern is the increasing decline in enrollment in elementary grades over the past 10 years. From 2009 - 2014 enrollment declined 2.6% for grades 1-5 compared to the more recent decline of 5.6% from 2014 - 2019. This is a trend that all independent schools with elementary grades should take notice of.
Ten year enrollment changes from 2009-2019
Grades 1-5: -8.1%
Grades 6-8: 2.1%
Grades 9-12: 6.3%