A year ago I created a chart showing TUSD's total enrollment
from 2000 to 2015, using figures from the page on TUSD's website, School Enrollment by Gender & Ethnicity on Any Day
. I've expanded the chart to include 2016 figures.
Like last year, I used the enrollment numbers from the 175th day, which seem to have fewer random ups and downs than other school days I looked at. On this year's chart, I expanded the width of the bars for the last six years so they could be seen more easily.
Here's the new chart.
The chart shows a decline in enrollment from 2000 to 2016 from 61,280 to 47,661, a loss of 13,619 students. But it also shows the rate of loss of students changed over the years. From 2000 to the 2006-7 school year, the district lost an average of 350 students a year. Starting in 2007 and continuing through the 2011-12 school year, the average losses more than quadrupled, to 1,600 a year. After that, the rate slowed, then increased, then slowed again. TUSD lost 417 students during the most recent school year, which is significantly lower than any loss in the previous eight years.
So many variables are in play here, it's impossible for me to draw any simple cause-and-effect conclusions from the changes in the rate of loss over the years, other than to say the trend is a positive one for TUSD. Is the slowing rate of loss because charter schools aren't expanding at the same rate they were starting ten years ago, so they're not pulling an increasing number of students away from the district? Have changes in the size of Tucson's student population contributed to the numbers of students lost by TUSD? Have TUSD's recruitment and retention efforts improved over the past four years? All of those factors and more may be in play.
In another post, I'll get a little more granular with the enrollment numbers, looking at changes at various grade levels over the years. It'll get pretty wonky, and like this post, I won't try to draw clear conclusions from the numbers, but I found some trends I thought were worth mulling over.