Almost 3 million fewer students enrolled in the U.S. education system in 2020 than in the previous year for the lowest school enrollment level for people under the age of 35 in more than 20 years, according to Census Bureau data reviewed by Axios.
Less than half of 3- and 4-year-olds were enrolled in school in 2020, at 40%, down from 54% in 2019, making last year the first since 1996 that less than half of American children that age were enrolled in school.
Nursery school enrollment "fell by 25% (from 4.7 million to 3.5 million), and in kindergarten by 9% (4.1 million to 3.7 million)," and "the number of 3-4-year-old children of working mothers enrolled in nursery school declined by 35% from 2019 to 2020, compared with a 10% decrease of other enrolled 3-4 year-olds (the overall decrease was 26%)."
College enrollment declined to its lowest point since 2007, with most of that coming from two-year schools that hit their lowest levels of enrollment in two decades. Graduate school enrollment remained steady at about 3.8 million.
"Data collection challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic may have affected some of the results reported here," The Census Bureau noted. "Overall response to the October CPS declined from 84% in 2019 to 81% in 2020. During the pandemic, students may have continued their enrollment (i.e., to study) but in less traditional ways such as remote learning or by completing virtual or paper assignments.
"The various learning options increased the potential for misclassification of enrollment status, potentially artificially decreasing some enrollment estimates."
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