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National Center for Education Statistics Releases Annual Report
posted by: Alix | May 26, 2011, 05:10 PM   

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the data arm of the Department of Education, today released their annual report entitled, The Condition of Education, meant to summarize important developments and trends in education using the latest available state and federal statistics. The congressionally mandated report is considered a snapshot of education trends across the country and is used by policymakers to determine current patterns and understand educational populations.

This year, the data reflected the grim financial circumstances faced by many American families: student enrollment in private, religious schools has taken a sharp dip with the economic downturn. As a result, district and public charter school enrollments continue to climb, with many facing budget shortfalls of their own.

All together, private schools served 10 percent of the nation's K-12 students in 2009-2010, down from a high of 12 percent in 1996. During the same period, public school enrollment increased by 2.1 million students, to 49.3 million students nationwide, from 2001 to 2009.

That downturn was driven by enrollment decreases in Catholic schools as well as from schools designated by NCES statisticians as Christian schools, which lost 146,000 students, and other religious-affiliated schools, which saw an 11,000-student decline that year. Experts assert that while traditional private schools may adjust tuition rates based on market forces, religious schools traditionally serve a less affluent and lower-income segment of the population.

Analysts say a combination of demographic changes, economic troubles, and increasing competition from charter schools may underlie the decrease in these private and religious schools. This leaves many speculating whether or not public charter schools may be in position to take over the educational niche that religious private schools traditionally filled.

In regard to charters, enrollment nationwide has gone from just over 571,000 in 2001-2002 to more than 1.4 million in 2008-2009, when the data was first calculated. Nationwide, charters now account for 57.5 percent of urban, public elementary schools and 56.4 percent of urban, public secondary schools.

Overall, it seems that while charter schools offer some relief, traditional public schools will continue to deal with not only increased enrollment but budget shortfalls.

Click here to read the entire report.

What do you think of these current trends?

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