Author(s): Ken Ardon, Ph.D. — Publication date: 2012-11-14 Category: Education Abstract: Since 2003, enrollment in public schools in Massachusetts has fallen by 35,000 students, or 4%. The decline has occurred even while enrollment in the rest of the country has increased. The early years of this enrollment decline were documented in a Pioneer Institute report in 2008. Massachusetts is losing students for two related reasons: the population is not growing very quickly due to people moving out of the state, and the population is old and getting older with a relatively small number of children born each year. While the enrollment decline has continued, some of the trends have changed in recent years. In 2008, the drop in enrollment was concentrated in western Massachusetts and the Cape, but since 2008 the decline has spread to other areas. From 2003 to 2008 large urban districts shrank more than twice as fast as other districts, but in the past four years their enrollment is relatively flat while other areas have shrinking enrollment. Charter school enrollment has continued to rise over the past four years, although the growth has fallen as the pace of new school openings slowed. The decline started in 2004, and projections from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education suggest that it is likely to continue. By 2020, the state could lose another 30,000 students – doubling the loss to date.

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