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News Release - Official count of 2020-21 Colorado students confirms 3.3% decrease in state enrollment with biggest drop in early grades

Jan. 22, 2021

Official count of 2020-21 Colorado students confirms 3.3% decrease in state enrollment with biggest drop in early grades

DENVER – The final, official count of the preschool through 12th grade public school student population confirms the state student population had its first decrease in year-to-year enrollment in over three decades due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the Colorado Department of Education announced today.

Last month, the state released preliminary figures due to interest around this school year’s enrollment, issuing a press release with initial findings. Many schools and districts had not finalized their counting at the time of that announcement. Despite a few changes in the count, the figures released today are largely similar across the state to those that were released in December.

Overall, Colorado schools posted an estimated 3.3% decrease in enrollment this fall compared to 2019 with 30,024 fewer students in preschool through 12th grade. The figures show the total statewide enrollment for preschool to 12th grade was 883,199 when students were counted in October. The last time the state saw a decrease in pupil enrollment was the fall of 1988. 

The largest decreases were in the earlier grades with 8,009 fewer students in preschool for a 23.3% drop and 5,800 fewer kindergartners for a 9.1% decrease. An estimated 13,833 fewer first through fifth graders were counted in Colorado schools in 2020 compared to 2019 -- a 4.2% drop.

Among races and ethnicities, white students had the highest number change with 19,759 fewer students in 2020 compared to 2019, a 4.1% decline. American Indian or Alaska native had the highest percent drop with 5.9% fewer students in 2020 than in 2019.

The number of students reported as homeschooled doubled with 15,773 students counted this fall compared to 7,880 in 2019. A total of 32,034 students registered in online educational programs this year - 9,586 more students than 2019 or 43% increase.

Approximately 140 of the state’s 178 school districts reported drops in enrollment with nearly 40 districts reporting increasing enrollment, according to the data released today by CDE.

For more information about student count for 2020-21, please visit this webpage.

To read the December press release, follow this link