Minnesota public school enrollment drops for 4th consecutive year

While the public school enrollment decline is not as steep as it was during COVID-19, it marks the fourth consecutive year public schools have lost numerous students.

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While the public school enrollment decline is not as steep as it was during COVID-19, it marks the fourth consecutive year public schools have lost numerous students. (Shutterstock)

(Center of the American Experiment) — Enrollment in Minnesota’s public schools has declined again, according to data recently uploaded by the Minnesota Department of Education.

For the 2023-24 school year, public schools lost roughly 0.2 percent of K-12 students — 1,425 — from the previous year. Nonpublic enrollment ticked up just under 1 percent; homeschool enrollment increased 10 percent.

While the public school enrollment decline is not as steep as it was during COVID-19, it marks the fourth consecutive year public schools have lost numerous students.

Since the start of the 2019-20 school year (before COVID hit), Minnesota public school enrollment has dropped about 2.7 percent, or 23,232 K-12 students.

The most recent statewide drop was largely driven by enrollment declines in the Minneapolis school district (which lost over 300 students) and the St. Paul school district (which lost over 250 students).

Shrinking enrollment has plagued the Minneapolis school district for at least a quarter century. District staff are working on boosting enrollment through targeted marketing efforts that include “mailed information, billboards and video messages that play at gas station pumps across the city, attending community events and parades.” In fall 2022, the St. Paul school district launched a two-year $300,000 marketing campaign to try and reverse declining enrollment.

As of spring 2023 data, the majority of Minnesota students aren’t meeting reading or math standards.

 

Catrin Wigfall
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Catrin Wigfall is a Policy Fellow at Center of the American Experiment.

Catrin’s experience in education and policy research began during her time with the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. Her interest in education policy led her to spend two years teaching 5th grade general education and 6th grade Latin in Arizona as a Teach for America corps member. She then used her classroom experience to transition back into education policy work at the California Policy Center before joining American Experiment in February 2017.

Catrin graduated summa cum laude from Azusa Pacific University in California, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.