The number of students attending public schools during the 2020-2021 academic year fell by roughly 3% compared with the previous year.
The data comes from the National Center for Education Statistics, a federal agency that analyzes education figures.
The 3% drop represents some 1.5 million students according to the preliminary report. A final report will not be available until next spring, according to the NCES. Figures come from reports generated by state departments of education.
There were 51.1 million students enrolled in conventional and public charter schools during the 2019-2020 academic year.
Even more stark is the drop in enrollment among younger students. Preschool enrollment fell by 22%, and preschool and kindergarten enrollment combined dropped 13%.
By contrast, high school enrollment fell by 0.4%.
Ross Santy, associate commissioner for the NCES, noted how rare it is for public schools to lose students.
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