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School Enrollment

Description: 

School enrollment figures can be used to estimate the size of the school-age population. A comparison of public school enrollment in Arizona in 1999 and 2000 to the 2000 decennial census counts indicates that just more than 90 percent of the children between the ages of 6 and 14 were enrolled in grades 1 through 9 at public schools. Some children are home schooled while others go to private schools.

Public school enrollment from preschool through grade 12 is reported as of October 1. Until 2008, concurrent enrollment in more than one school (for example, at a traditional high school and at a vocational school) was multiply counted. Since then, students are counted only once.

Enrollment figures are presented on Arizona Indicators since 1999 for the United States, Arizona, and the 15 Arizona counties. For the state, the change in “cohort size” enrollment also is shown, calculated as the difference between the number of students enrolled in one grade in one year to the number enrolled in the next grade in the following year. This calculation provides a more accurate means of estimating net migration.

For Arizona and the counties, limited data prior to 1999 are available from the source, with the enrollment counts typically released in the spring. The national data are slow to be released.

Data Source: 

Arizona Department of Education, Research and Evaluation Section http://www.ade.az.gov/ResearchPolicy/ and, for national data, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Digest of Education Statistics http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/.

Data Quality Comments: 

The county enrollments do not sum to the state total since some children are enrolled in special programs through the Department of Juvenile Corrections or the Department of Education that are not allocated to a county.

Due to the change from multiple reporting of students to an unduplicated count in 2008, the enrollment figures reported for fall 2008 (and subsequent years) cannot be compared to those for fall 2007 (and prior years). Apart from this change in methodology, caution is urged in using these data as a time series due to reporting errors. Significant errors are present in some years, particularly in the less populous counties. The quality of reporting has improved over time, but errors may still be present in the figures.

Enrollment figures for the state also are released by the NCES. In some years, the NCES figures are identical to, or nearly the same as, the figures from the Arizona Department of Education. In other years, however, the figures are substantially different. The figures reported on the Arizona Department of Education website are believed to be more accurate.

iconSchool Enrollment, Percent Change, 2011

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Visualization Notes:

* The percent change in Apache County was -21.8%; it appears that enrollment was underreported in 2011.

Enrollment in public schools, including preschool through 12th grade, increased slightly between fall 2010 and fall 2011 in Arizona, though the enrollment fell in eight of the 15 counties. However, as demonstrated by the very large decrease reported for Apache County, the reliability of the enrollment figures, especially for less populous counties, is in doubt.

iconSchool Enrollment, Percent Change

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Visualization Notes:

Enrollment in public schools, including preschool through 12th grade, rose in Arizona by more than 2 percent in every year from 2000 through 2007. Data are not available for the change between 2007 and 2008 due to a methodological modification to the method of counting students. Since 2008, enrollment has hardly changed, rising 0.7 percent in 2009, falling 0.7 percent in 2010, and rising 0.4 percent in 2011.

iconChange in Cohort Size Enrollment, Arizona

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Visualization Notes:

This graph compares enrollment in one grade in one year to enrollment in the next grade in the next year. It is the sum of all grades: from kindergarten through the 11th grade in the first year and from the first grade through the 12th grade in the next year. For example, enrollment in the first grade in fall 2010 is compared to enrollment in the second grade in fall 2011. The difference in enrollment in large part reflects the net migration to or from Arizona of school-age children. However, the changes also reflect children transferring from private to public schools (or the reverse) and high school students dropping out of school.

Net in-migration of school-age children to Arizona exceeded 15,000 in each year from 2002 through 2007; the year-to-year fluctuations may reflect problems with the enrollment count rather than changes in migration. Data for 2008 are unavailable due to a change in the methodology of counting students. In 2009 and 2010, it appears that the state experienced net out-migration of school-age children, largely due to the long and deep economic recession. A small net inflow appears to have resumed in 2011.

iconChange in Cohort Size Enrollment by Grade, Arizona

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Visualization Notes:

This graph compares enrollment in one grade in one year to enrollment in the next grade in the next year; the grade is expressed as of the second year. For example, enrollment in the first grade in fall 2010 is compared to enrollment in the second grade in fall 2011. The difference in enrollment in large part reflects the net migration to or from Arizona of school-age children. However, the changes also reflect children transferring from private to public schools (or the reverse) and high school students dropping out of school.

The year-to-year increase is consistently higher than in other grades between kindergarten and the first grade and especially between the 8th and 9th grades, suggesting that these are the key ages at which private-school students transfer to public schools. In addition, the year-to-year change often is negative after the 9th grade, presumably due to students dropping out of school.

Data Source

Arizona Department of Education, Research and Evaluation Section http://www.ade.az.gov/ResearchPolicy/ and, for national data, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Digest of Education Statistics http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/.