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News Release - Colorado school enrollment increases slightly after 2020’s decline

Jan. 19, 2022

Colorado school enrollment increases slightly after 2020’s decline

Largest growth seen in preschool and kindergarten

DENVER -- Colorado’s preschool through 12th grade public school population grew slightly this fall compared to the year before when the state’s school enrollment numbers declined for the first time in 30 years, the Colorado Department of Education reported today.

A total of 886,517 students were counted in October 2021, when the state conducts its annual pupil count – an increase of 3,318 students (0.4%) over 2020 when the student population was undoubtedly affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. The 2021 enrollment figures are well below the 913,223 students who were counted in the fall of 2019 – the all-time high for Colorado.

The last time the state’s enrollment figures were lower than 886,517 students was in 2013 when the preschool through 12th grade enrollment was 876,999 students.

The largest grade increase in 2021 was preschool which added 4,478 more students than in 2020 – a 16.95% increase. Kindergarten also saw 3,868 more students in 2021, a 6.65% increase from the prior year. However, half of the 14 grades counted showed decreases with the biggest drops in sixth grade with 2,399 fewer students and seventh grade with 1,937 fewer students compared to 2020. 

Among races and ethnicities, Hispanic students had the largest gain with 4,357 more students counted than in 2020 for a total of 306,215 students. White students showed the biggest decline with 3,106 fewer students than in 2020 for a total of 460,186 students.

One-third fewer homeschool students were counted in 2021 compared to the fall of 2020 – 10,502 in 2021 compared to 15,773 in 2020 – a 33.4% decline. However, the 2021 numbers of home school students are still higher than the 2019 total of 7,880. 

A total of 31,382 students registered in online educational programs this year – a slight decrease from 2020 when 32,034 were counted. 

A total of 115 of the state’s 178 school districts reported increases in enrollment with more than 60 districts reporting decreases. The largest increase was in El Paso County’s Harrison 2 School District, which welcomed 1,825 more students this year than in 2020. School District 27J in Adams County added 1,150 more students this year.

Districts with the largest decreases included Jefferson County with 1,615 fewer students, Cheyenne Mountain 12 with 1,602 fewer students and Las Animas RE-1 with 1,479 fewer students.

For more information about student count for 2021-22, please visit this webpage

Here is a ranking of the 10 largest districts and their enrollment numbers for the 2021-22 school year:

School District Enrollment 
1) Denver Public Schools 88,889
2) Jefferson County Public Schools 78,473
3) Douglas County School District 63,876
4) Cherry Creek School District  53,558
5) Aurora Public Schools 38,451
6) Adams 12 Five Star Schools 36,078
7) St. Vrain Valley School District  32,406
8) Poudre R-1 29,941
9) Boulder Valley School District  29,011
10) Academy 20 26,400