Understanding K-12 Education Since the Pandemic Onset: The Interactive K-12 Enrollment Explorer

Smiling teacher with young student

A policymaker tool from the COVID-19 and Equity in Education Initiative (CEE)

Although public K–12 student enrollment dropped by 3% nationwide in 2020–21 compared with 2019-20, the school year that marks the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the patterns differ for specific areas and types of schools. To better contextualize these shifts, the COVID-19 and Equity in Education (CEE) Enrollment Explorer was developed to help policymakers and educators examine enrollment trends by a range of school, community, and student characteristics.

The CEE Enrollment Explorer allow users to examine state, regional-, district-, community-, and school-level shifts in student enrollment before and after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic (March 2020) in selected states. It also includes data from school years 2016–17 through 2021–22.

Users can investigate shifts in enrollment by school type (e.g., charter or traditional schools), school level (e.g., elementary, middle, high), school locale (e.g., urban, rural), and community-reported COVID-19 cases. Within each of these categories, users can also study shifts in enrollment of student groups, including Black, Latino, and White students as well as students who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Altogether, the interactive CEE Enrollment Explorer aims to paint a more detailed picture of public K–12 student enrollment.

CEE Enrollment Explorer–California

The COVID-19 and Equity in Education (CEE) initiative recently released the CEE Enrollment Explorer–California, which captures the public K–12 student enrollment in California before and after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CEE initiative is investigating how states, districts, and communities—especially those with higher percentages of Black and Latino students and/or students experiencing poverty—responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Using data from the CEE initiative’s longitudinal database, the new CEE Enrollment Explorer–California allows users to explore how student enrollment within individual schools, districts, and regions shifted across several characteristics.

CEE screenshot


Relevant Findings

Following are examples of relevant findings from the CEE Enrollment Explorer–California in the 2021-22 school year:

  • Student enrollment in California declined in both traditional and charter schools compared with the COVID-19 pandemic onset in 2019-20. However, the decline was smaller in charter schools, both overall and for specific student groups.
  • California schools located in cities experienced a 6.2% decline in enrollment since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, larger than the 4.4% decline in enrollment statewide.
  • California schools reported declines in enrollment since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic among students who were eligible for free and reduced-price lunch, Black students, Latino students, and White students. In that same time frame, the declines were greater for schools located in cities than statewide.
Michael Garet
Vice President and Institute Fellow
Susan Therriault
Institute Fellow