N.C. had one of nation’s largest 9th grade enrollment increases in 2021-22

By July 20, 2022 News

Recent data and mapping show North Carolina had one of the nation’s largest increases in 9th grade enrollment for 2021-22. National figures from Burbio, the data service platform known for tracking school opening, indicate 9th grade enrollment this past year soared in North Carolina, Maryland, New Mexico, and a number of other states. The major factor behind states’ 9th grade enrollment increases: retention, as freshmen failed to earn sufficient course credit, during months of pandemic learning, to move on to the next grade.

In 2021-22, North Carolina and Maryland led the nation in 9th grade enrollment increases

In North Carolina, for instance, 9th grade enrollment increased by 11.9%. This figure was double what would be expected. In fact, according to an earlier article from WRAL, the state’s retention numbers represented the “highest 9th grade retention in two decades.”

Here’s the recent national table from Burbio:

Source: Burbio’s weekly newsletter (Week of 6/13: “Lockdown Buckets”)

Maryland’s 9th grade enrollment increase tracks North Carolina’s. Other states with especially large upticks in 9th grade enrollment this past year included New Mexico (11.4%), West Virginia (10.3%), Arkansas (10%), South Carolina (9.1%), Texas (9.1%), and Georgia (8.2%). As the screenshot below shows, 9th grade enrollment grew by 5% or more in 15 states and the District of Columbia.

Source: “Freshmen, Held Back During Pandemic, Fuel ‘Bulge’ in 9th Grade Enrollment,” Linda Jacobson, The 74.

A recent news story in The 74 provides context for 9th grade retention nationwide. In North Carolina, the article notes that the “increase in freshmen far outpaced that of kindergartners.”

North Carolina’s 9th grade enrollment increase was three times the national average

This table from Burbio shows a nationwide increase in 9th grade enrollment of 3.9% in 2021-22. That means that North Carolina’s 9th grade enrollment increase was three times the national average.

Source: Burbio