New Numbers Reveal a Shifting K-12 Landscape in North Carolina

By July 5, 2022 News

The K-12 landscape in North Carolina continues to shift in new ways as parent preferences and the pandemic reconfigure enrollment. That’s a clear takeaway from new figures released by the state on Friday.

For 2021-22, a large private school increase and a homeschooling drop

According to figures from the state’s Division of Non-Public Education, 115,311 students attended North Carolina private schools in 2021-22, a 7.4% increase. The year before, 107,341 students attended private schools.

In fact, the 2021-22 private enrollment uptick represents the largest number in 50 years, according to the News & Observer. Meanwhile, new state numbers also show that 160,528 students attended home schools in 2021-22, a drop-off of more than 19,000 students. A spokesperson for North Carolinians for Home Education, quoted in the News & Observer article, attributes the downturn to newly-updated state records that more accurately reflect operational home schools–rather than a drop-off in homeschooling interest.

Charter school numbers continued to increase in 2021-22

What about charter schools? Enrollment continues to grow in North Carolina. For instance, in 2019-20, charter schools enrolled 117,000 students. That number increased to more than 126,000 students in 2020-21. This year, in 2021-22, over 130,000 students attended public charter schools. Those figures come from the 2021 Annual Charter Schools Report, which the Department of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education submitted to the General Assembly in June. (What else is in the report? Learn more here.)

However, the majority of K-12 students (around 1.35 million) in North Carolina still attend district public schools. Charter students represent 8.6% of the overall public school population in North Carolina. According to self-reported data, 73% of charter schools have waitlists, totaling more than 60,000 students.