NCES Releases Latest Private School Enrollment Data

Yesterday the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released the 2024 edition of the Report on the Condition of Education. It contains some interesting information regarding private school enrollment. From the report:

The latest year for which private school enrollment data are available is fall 2021, when 4.7 million kindergarten through grade 12 (K–12) students were enrolled in private schools. Private K–12 enrollment was 5 percent higher in fall 2021 than in fall 2011 (4.5 million), but there was no measurable trend in enrollment for the period. More recently, private K–12 enrollment was 4.7 million students in both fall 2019 (the year before the coronavirus pandemic) and fall 2021. In comparison, the number of K–12 students who were enrolled in public schools was 2 percent lower in fall 2021 than in fall 2019 (48.0 vs. 49.2 million). Despite these different enrollment patterns during the pandemic, private school students made up 9 percent of combined public and private enrollment in fall 2021 and in fall 2019, as they had in each year throughout the preceding decade. Enrollment in private schools by school orientation in fall 2021 differed from fall 2011 as follows:

  • enrollment in Catholic schools was lower in fall 2021 (1.7 million students) than in fall 2011 (1.9 million students), although there was no measurable trend for the period;
  • enrollment in other religious schools in fall 2021 (2.0 million) was higher than in fall 2011 (1.7 million), although there was no measurable trend for the period; and
  • enrollment in nonsectarian schools increased from 0.9 million in fall 2011 to 1.1 million in fall 2021.

For the full private school enrollment brief click here.

Big Demand for Private School Vouchers in Indiana

A new state report shows a 31% increase in participation in Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program. According to the report:

The 2023-2024 school year saw the largest growth in the number of students in the history of the program. Last year, the 2022-2023 Choice Scholarship Program had 52,614 participating students in period one, 648 participating students in period two, and 343 participating schools. The 2023-2024 school year saw an increase in participating schools to 357, the most participating schools of any year of the Choice Scholarship Program. There were 68,766 participating students in period one and 1,329 participating students in period two, which increased the total number of participating students for the 2023-2024 school year to 70,095.

This increase in voucher use comes after legislative changes that significantly broadened program eligibility, allowing nearly every Indiana family to participate.

Kentucky Private School Choice Amendment Fight

School choice opponents in Kentucky have launched a campaign opposing a proposed state constitutional amendment friendly to school choice. The proposed amendment would allow lawmakers to fund education options outside of the public school system. While approval of the amendment would not establish a school choice program, it would overturn language in the state constitution that has been used to thwart school choice efforts in the past. Stay tuned…


Would Parents Rather Have Academic or Religious Instruction?

In a recent blog post, EdChoice highlighted a new study demonstrating how parents seeking a religious education for their children do not wish to sacrifice academic quality. Instead, they prioritize both, indicating a strong desire for educational environments that foster both intellectual development and moral formation.

“Parents want their children to have both the human capital and strength of character necessary for their flourishing. Indeed, as a recent meta-analysis of the civic outcomes of private schools bears out, empowering families to organize teleologically distinct schools can strengthen rather than divide our civil society.”

Read the EdChoice Blog