The landscape of K-12 education in the United States is vast, encompassing over 50 million students across more than 130,000 public and private schools.
As the student population continues to become more diverse and economic disparities persist, understanding the scale and demographics of K-12 enrollment is crucial for policymaking and planning.
This article provides a comprehensive overview of the number of students in the American K-12 education system and key trends shaping enrollment now and in the coming years.
So, without any further ado, let’s quickly understand the K-12 educational facts and figures.
Table of Contents
- K-12 Students: General Statistics
- K-12 Students Enrolled In Private Schools
- K-12 Students Enrolled In Public Schools
- Number Of K-12 Students Enrolled By Race/Ethnicity
- Numbers Of K-12 Students As Per Different States
- Percentage Of K-12 Students Who Were Engish Language Learners By Grade Level
- Number Of K-12 students Using Digital Learning Tools
- Public K-12 Spending Per Pupil
- K-12 Education: Future Trends
- Conclusion: How Many K12 Students In The US (2023)
K-12 Students: General Statistics
- 34.0 million students attended pre-kindergarten to Grade 8, where 3.6 million were enrolled in Kindergarten, and 1.4 million were enrolled in prekindergarten. (NCES)
- As of Fall 2021, there were around 49.5 million students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools in the US, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
- This is a decrease from Fall 2019, when there were 50.7 million public K-12 students, likely due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Private school enrollment also declined during the pandemic, from 5.7 million in 2019 to 5.3 million in 2021.
- The National Center for Education Statistics projects public K-12 enrollment will continue declining to 44.4 million by 2029 due to lower birth rates.
- Enrollment declines are expected to vary by region, with the largest decreases in the Northeast and Midwest and more modest declines in the South and West.
- However, the proportion of K-12 students from racial/ethnic minority backgrounds is projected to continue increasing, from 52.7% in 2020 to 55.2% in 2029.
- As of 2020, there are around 130,930 K-12 schools in the United States, out of which 13,452 are irregular school districts. (NCES)
- 69.4% or 35.1 million K-12 students were enrolled in Public Primary Schools. (Research.com)
- California, Florida, Texas, New York, and Illinois are the top 5 states having the maximum number of K-12 students enrolled in Public Schools. (EDI, 2021)
- Around 10.9 million families with children who are in the K-12 grade educational level have an annual income of about $75,000 or above.
- The K-12 students are expected to have a low learning retention rate, such as 2% to 3%, in the year 2023.
- A large number of K-12 students are from grades 6 to 8, as they yield around 32.7%, i.e., 11.49 million from K-8 grades.
- As per the study, the enrollment of K-8 public schools in the United States is expected to decrease between the year 2023 to 2030.
- The federal share of spending on K-12 students has increased from 5.7% to 8.3% in the past 20 years and is expected to increase over the next few years. (NCES)
- Approximately $15,513 was spent per pupil for K-12 education.
- 7.9% of the funding is provided by the Federal government for public K-12 education.
K-12 Students Enrolled In Private Schools
- 9% of K-12 students attended private schools, i.e., 4.7 million students enrolled in private schools for the year 2019 to 2020.
- An increase in the number of K-12 students was demonstrated from 48.1 million in the fall of 2009 to 49.2 million in the fall of the year 2019.
- Private schools, on average, have 176 students in each school, where 86% are from Grade k to 8, and 14% are from grades 9 to 12.
- According to U.S. Census Bureau reports, among 10.9 million families having children in K-12 grades, only 11% of the students are enrolled in private schools.
K-12 Students Enrolled In Public Schools
To determine the number of K-12 students enrolled in public schools for the year 2020, refer to the table provided below.
|Grade Levels.||Number Of Students|
|K to grade 8.||32.8 million.|
|Grade 9.||15.3 million|
|Grade 9 to 12.||4 million.|
- 3.4 million students were enrolled in Kindergarten, and 15.3 million were enrolled in Grade 9 in 2020.
- Around $13,489 were spent per student in public elementary and secondary school in the year 2019- 2020.
- A total amount of $682 billion was spent in public elementary and secondary schools for the years 2019 and 2020.
Number Of K-12 Students Enrolled By Race/Ethnicity
To find out the number of K-12 students according to their race or ethnicity, go through the data provided below.
K-12 Students Enrolled In Private Schools According To Race
The below table represents the percentage of K-12 students enrolled in private schools according to race or ethnicity.
|Ethnicities||Percentage Of Students|
|American Indian/ Alaska Native||5%|
|Two or more races||10%|
- Among the total number of K-12 students in private schools, 12% of the students were White, whereas 15% of the students were Pacific Islanders.
Number Of K-12 Students In Public schools As Per Ethnicity
Given below are the percentage of K-12 students enrolled in public institutions according to their race in different States of the United States.
|Characteristics||White||Black||Hispanic||Asian||Pacific Islander||American Indian/ Alaska Native||Two Or More Races.|
|District of Columbia||12.9%||65.6%||16.9%||1.5%||0.1%||0.2%||2.9%|
- In Arizona, around 37.1% of students enrolled in K-12 public schools were white, while 45.4% were Hispanics.
Numbers Of K-12 Students As Per Different States
- An increase in enrollment in K-12 public schools between the years 2000 to 2016 in 32 states has been demonstrated.
The number of K-12 students varies according to the state. To determine the number of K-12 students in different States of the U.S., go through the below data.
|States||Number Of Students|
|New York||3.17 million|
- California is the State having the maximum enrollment of K-12 students, which is around 6.86 million students.
Percentage Of K-12 Students Who Were Engish Language Learners By Grade Level
The following table represents the percentage of K-12 students who were English Language Learners as per the different grade levels.
|Grade Levels||Percentage Of Students|
Number Of K-12 students Using Digital Learning Tools
Digitalization has led to the use of technology at the forefront. Technology or digital tools are used in all sectors.
The use of technology in the educational sector has increased tremendously since the COVID-19 pandemic.
To determine the percentage of K-12 students in the United States using digital learning tools by the level of schools, refer to the table provided below.
|School Level||Percentage Of Students|
|Elementary School Students||45%|
|Middle School Students||64%|
|High School Students||63%|
Public K-12 Spending Per Pupil
Below is the expenditure per pupil in the United States enrolled in preschool programs for 2019.
|School Level||Spending Per Child|
To learn more about the yearly spending on K-12 students, check out the data provided below.
|Year||Spending Per Child|
Source: Education Data Initiative.
- Per pupil spending for the year 2018-19 was demonstrated to be $13,187, while in the year 2017, it was around $12,654.
- The total expenditure on public K-12 is $666.9 billion.
- Nationwide K-12 schools are provided with $60.34 billion, which means $1,193 per pupil by the federal government.
- The contribution by the state is around $357.0 billion in total. ($6,868 per student).
- According to the report from educationdata.org, New York schools spend the most on K-12 education per student.
Let’s have a look at the public educational spending for the top 10 states.
|State||K-12 Spending||Postsecondary spending|
|District of Columbia||$22,832||$27,142|
K-12 Education: Future Trends
It is predicted that K-12 education is going to be online in the year 2024. This is due to the easy access to the internet globally.
Many K-12 students seem to opt for self-paced programs. Let’s have some general statistics on K-12 education.
- 17. It is estimated that the global K-12 e-learning market is expected to hike by $12930 million by 2028.
- Enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools is projected to reach 44.4 million students in 2029, a decline of about 10% from 2021 levels.
- Minority students are expected to make up 55.2% of public school enrollment in 2029, compared to 52.7% in 2020. The percentage of Hispanic students is projected to increase from 28.6% to 32.1% in that timeframe.
- Public charter school enrollment is projected to continue growing, from 7.8% of K-12 students in 2019 to 13.8% in 2029.
- Homeschooling rates quadrupled from pre-pandemic levels to 11.1% of all K-12 students in 2020. It’s unclear if this trend will persist.
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Conclusion: How Many K12 Students In The US (2023)
Around 2.7 million K-12 students all around the United States use digital technology for learning.
There are around 88,909 prekindergartens, elementary and middle schools with a large number of students enrolled in them.
As it can be demonstrated that a significant number of K-12 students are enrolled in public schools, thus public school system continues to provide accessible and affordable learning options to the students.
That’s all about How many K-12 students are in the U.S. Read the article and let us know your views on them in the comments section below.
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