Illinois Student Enrollment Declines, Education Officials Say | Chicago News

Chicago public school students walk down a hallway in this file photo. (WTTW News)

Chicago Public Schools aren’t the only Illinois district to see fewer students in its classrooms this year, as new data from state education officials shows total enrollment has declined by some 70,000 students this year.

The Illinois State Board of Education on Friday released enrollments and other data for the 2021-22 school year in its annual bulletin, which shows enrollments statewide rose from 1,957,018 students last year to 1,887,316 students.

Education officials stressed the “significant impact” of the COVID-19 pandemic not only on enrollment figures, but also on increasing rates of chronic absenteeism, lower rates of ninth grade students year on their way to graduation and sharp declines in math and English skills.

“We have witnessed both tragedy and heroism in our schools over the past year,” ISBE Superintendent Carmen Ayala said in a statement. “Students and educators have lost and lived and learned so much through unthinkable obstacles, but the loss is not the whole story. … We know we have a steep path ahead of us to help students regain their math and reading skills, and we are confident that we have the funding, support and talent in our schools to climb that hill.

Based on past enrollment trends, the ISBE said it would have expected a 1.1% decrease in enrollment in a typical year. But this year Illinois saw a 3.5% drop, and the ISBE says a further decrease can be attributed to the pandemic, putting it on par with a similar enrollment loss seen in d ‘other states in the country.

Some of the largest declines were seen at the preschool and kindergarten levels, which saw declines of 17.5% and 8%, respectively.

White college students are the largest racial group in the state at 46.7%, but that’s down from 47.5% in 2020. The percentage of black college students has remained stable at 16.6%, while the percentage of Hispanic students increased slightly year over year, from 26.6% to 27%.

The CPS released its Day 20 registration information this week, which showed a similar 3% drop from last year’s total. District CEO Pedro Martinez also blamed the COVID-19 pandemic, a drop in the city’s birth rate and transfers out of the school district.

Illinois students were also more likely to be chronically absent last year, according to ISBE data, with 1 in 5 students missing 10% or more of the school year. That’s a 21% increase from 2019 figures.

And far fewer students have reached grade-level standards in English and math, the ISBE said, based on preliminary numbers from the spring tests. Specifically, 16.6% fewer met grade-level standards in ELA and nearly 18% fewer students met grade-level math standards, based on data from the Illinois Assessment of Readiness and SAT.

The ISBE said its younger students had greater skill declines, possibly because they had a harder time engaging in distance learning than their older peers. The rate of ninth graders on track to graduate also fell 5% from 2019 to 2021, according to the ISBE.

Despite some difficulties, the ISBE noted in the bulletin that the statewide four-year graduation rate has remained stable and that a record number of students have taken college and college preparation courses. career last year.

“As we move forward, helping our children to live this experience and restore their learning must be at the heart of every action,” Governor JB Pritzker said in a statement. “And for months, my administration worked hand-in-hand with school administrators across the state to ensure that the $ 7 billion spent on renewing K-12 learning for students. of Illinois are responding well to this long period of upheaval and devastation. Together, with our amazing educators at the forefront, we are revitalizing our classrooms, student by student, for the betterment of all of Illinois. “

Contact Matt Masterson: @ByMattMasterson | [email protected] | (773) 509-5431

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