June 28, 2010 — A record number of students attended Virginia's public schools this year – and that number will continue growing over the next five years, according to the latest forecast issued by the Demographics and Workforce Group at the University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.
Other findings from the study include:
• Enrollment growth in three Northern Virginia school divisions – Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun – will account for 85 percent of the statewide increase over the next five years;
• Significant enrollment growth is confined to the state's largest metropolitan areas;
• A large number of school divisions, mostly in Southwest and Southside Virginia, will have enrollment losses over the next five years. Enrollment losses will occur in 53 of Virginia's 132 school divisions.
Over the next five years, elementary grades (K-5) will absorb two-thirds of total statewide growth. Middle school grades (6-8) will grow by 16,000 students overall; and high school grades (9-12) will increase by only 1,000 students statewide.
This year's report also includes projections of the number of those who finish high school. Over the past several years, increasing total enrollment has been reflected in increasing numbers of students finishing high school. An all-time record of 88,624 high school graduates is forecast for 2009-10; however, the number of graduates will peak in 2011-12, and then begin to decline.
"The large K-5 grade enrollment growth between now and 2014-15, along with the relatively small increase in grades 9-12, sets the stage for this anticipated decline, which will be gradual and temporary, as the cohort of younger learners advance into middle school and high school," said U.Va. demographer Michael Spar, the lead researcher on this report.
The Demographics & Workforce Group at the Cooper Center produces annual school enrollment projections for the state and its school divisions. High school graduation projections are repeated every other year, alternating with a series of average daily membership projections. This report can be found on the Demographics & Workforce Group's website.