Enrollment in Indiana public and charter schools bounced back last fall as most districts returned to full-time, in-person learning. But not all the way back.
According to data released this week by the Indiana Department of Education, 1.03 million students were enrolled in public and charter schools at the start of the current school year. That’s up slightly from the previous year but about 14,000 short of number in fall 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Enrollment had declined in the fall of 2020 as the pandemic took hold and many schools switched partly or fully to online or hybrid instruction. Much of the decrease was in the early grades, especially kindergarten, where enrollment shrank by over 7%.
Indiana doesn’t require children to attend kindergarten. No doubt some parents decided to keep their young children home for one more year, given the uncertainties of starting school in a pandemic.
In charter schools, enrollment grew in fall 2020 and leveled off in the current year. The growth during the pandemic appeared to be mostly in a shift to online charter schools and an expansion of charter “adult high schools” designed for students who had dropped out.
In private schools, enrollment declined even more sharply than in public schools in the pandemic but rebounded in the current school year to its previous level.
Total enrollment at the start of the current school year was about 1.12 million. Of those students, 88% were in traditional public schools, 4.6% were in charter schools and 7.4% were in private schools.
State data also show that Indiana’s schools continue to grow more racially and ethnically diverse. About 65% of students in public and charter schools identify as white, down from 73% a decade ago. This year, 13.5% of students are Hispanic and 13% are Black.