A report released by the National Center for Education Statistics in September showed that, like the country as a whole, American schools would grow more diverse by 2025.
They would also grow more slowly thanks to recent trends in birth rates.
The Projections of Education Statistics said that “total public and private elementary and secondary school enrollment was 55 million in fall 2013,” representing a 4 percent increase since fall 2000.
That population increase was expected to be even smaller by 2025, with a growth rate of only 2 percent.
Growth rates within the student body were predicted to change as well.
While the increase in prekindergarten through grade 8 enrollment was expected to remain at 2 percent up to 2025, the percentage of students in high school would increase only 3 percent. That same population grew by 9 percent between 2000 and 2013.
Birth rates have been decreasing in the U.S. for decades, and recently hit a record low. The Centers for Disease Control reported 62 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 in 2016, and the average American woman has 1.8 children in 2016.
The overall enrollment decline was shown to vary by region, however, with enrollments actually predicted to increase in 30 western and southern states. Enrollment in New York public schools was projected to be “less than 5 percent lower” by 2025, the same rate for neighboring Massachusetts and New Jersey. States in New England and the “Rust Belt” were expected to see a greater than 5 percent decline by then.
The racial makeup of American schools is also predicted to change, with increases in growth of around 20 percent expected for Hispanic (18 percent), Asian (21 percent), and multiracial (23 percent) student populations. The black student population was projected to remain the same, while the number of white students was shown decreasing by 7 percent.
The 2010 census captured the changing face of America as well, stating that “More than half of the growth in the total population of the United States between 2000 and 2010 was due to the increase in the Hispanic population.”
It also showed a growing number of multiracial and Asian Americans, with respective population increases of 32 and 43 percent during that time.
While the number of college students is expected to increase between 2013 and 2025, it could be much smaller than the 2000-2013 increase. The number of 18- to 24-year-old college students grew by 33 percent during that time; the projected growth rate is only 13 percent. These projections, however, did not take into account factors such as “the cost of a college education, the economic value of an education, and the impact of distance learning due to technological changes.”
The data further reflected a difference between the full- and part-time student populations. The increase in full-time students was expected to drop from 38 percent to 15 percent, while the part-time student population increase was expected to drop only 7 percent.
According to the College Board, the average tuition at a private university has doubled since 2000, and tripled at public schools. And while what students actually pay to attend college depends greatly on economic background, a 2014 study from UCLA reported that “the top reasons why students who are accepted to their first choice institution opt to enroll elsewhere mostly center around cost.”
The number of associate’s and bachelor’s degrees granted between 2013 and 2025 was expected to decrease sharply; the increase had been recorded at 73 and 50 percent, respectively, between 2000 and 2013.
The projected increases were 37 and 9 percent. The same trend was seen in graduate degrees granted as well.
Census Bureau data showed that the number of students with any number of “vocational associate’s degree” credits increased by 28 percent between 2000 and 2016. Vocational training in trades like nursing and welding are increasingly seen as a low-cost alternative to college.
The National Center for Education Statistics, which published the Projections of Education Statistics, is “statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education.” It was created as part of the Education Reform Act of 2002.