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The pandemic discriminated against no one. Its impact was felt across the nation and related issues including enrollment and academic performance are very real for us all. Enrollment has been an issue NATP has monitored closely and reported on regularly. Declines in student enrollment have been seen in many states and seem to be consistent for public, private, charter, homeschool, and now Catholic schools are added to the list. Why is this important for testing coordinators to monitor? Because this means tens of thousands of students have gone somewhere, so they very well may end up in your school districts. The highlights below will help ensure we are all a bit more informed abou the trend and prepared to receive them, as needed:

  • Catholic schools have typically not been the destination for students across the U.S.
  • During the 2020-21 school year, Catholic schools saw their biggest enrollment decline in many decades.
  • Their rebound has been substantial, but incomplete this past school year.
  • Advocates for Catholic education are attempting to capitalize on the semi-rebound and try to keep the families they have and win over more.
  • Catholic schools have lost 2.8% of enrollment overall since the pandemic began, same as public schools.
  • Catholic school enrollment dropped especially sharply in New York, California, and Illinois, which also lost significant numbers from their public schools.
  • It is imporatant to note that into 2021-22 Catholic schools saw their first enrollment increase in two decades, while public schools nationally continued to lose students
  • Data show Catholic schools have not absorbed the students that public schools have lost, at least on a national level. 
  • Some suggest the Catholic school enrollment rebound reflects COVID-era controversies around school reopening and masking, but int is difficult to support since both sectors lost students. 
  • Family finances and costly tuition may be another likely explanation for the Catholic schools enrollment decline.
  • The economic bounceback correlated with the bounceback in Catholic school enrollment, but whether or not it will continue remains unknown.


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