June 19, 2008

Enrollment Shifting Away From Private Schools

Amid a decline in the number of parochial and other private schools, a growing number of children are attending public schools in North Jersey, following similar trends statewide. The largest shifts have come in elementary grades.

Private schools

Enrollment, 2001-02, 2005-06, Pct chg

Kindergarten-8th grade, 31,100, 25,800, -17.0

9th-12th grades, 10,300, 11,500, 11.7

Total*, 43,000, 38,500, -10.5

Public schools

Kindergarten-8th grade, 148,200, 150,700, 1.7

9th-12th grades, 58,500, 68,300, 16.8

Total*, 220,100, 231,600, 5.2

* Kindergarten through 12th grade

Note: Grade breakdowns do not add up to the total enrollment because some students attend ungraded programs.

Beyond the numbers

* The private-to-public school shift in North Jersey was most pronounced in religious-based schools, which saw enrollment drop 11 percent from 2001 to 2005, the latest year data are available. During that time, the number of religious schools declined about 8 percent.

* North Jersey's non-sectarian private school enrollment declined 7 percent from 2001 to 2005. However, the region's private high schools bucked the trend, increasing enrollment 26 percent - a greater increase than seen in public schools.

* Elementary-level enrollment overall in New Jersey dropped, partly because of declining birth rates in the late 1990s. High school enrollment rose in part because of an increase in the number of teens in the first half of the decade.

* Experts also attributed losses in elementary private schools to parents keeping their children in public school in the lower grades before moving them into tuition-based private schools that they believe will best prepare them for college.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics/U.S. Census Bureau/Staff analysis by Dave Sheingold

For a more detailed breakdown of enrollment in private and public schools in New Jersey, log on to northjersey. com/education. For information on individual private schools, go to nces.ed.gov/ surveys/pss. For information public schools, go to education.state.nj.us/rc/rc07/ index.html.

(c) 2008 Record, The; Bergen County, N.J.. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.