Report: Pandemic Worsens Education Pipeline Issues

Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE)

BOULDER, Colorado – The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) has released new analysis based on updated data that suggests potentially greater long-term public school enrollment challenges, as well as recommendations for educational leaders and policymakers as they continue to grapple with the impacts of COVID-19 on the K-12 pipeline. This new analysis focuses on public school enrollment changes since the pandemic and represents the most up-to-date examination of post-pandemic patterns.

Read the report: How the Pandemic Compounds Education Pipeline Challenges

Key takeaways:

  • Approximately 833,000 fewer students enrolled in public schools than had been predicted, which was an unexpected 2% decline.
  • The number of high school graduates in the first two graduating classes impacted by the pandemic – the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021 – appeared relatively stable, but data about the Class of 2022 is only beginning to emerge.
  • Elementary school student enrollment was close to predicted levels, which anticipated a decline, but public middle schools enrolled fewer students than predicted by pre-pandemic trends.
  • Enrollment trends by public school student population race and ethnicity are examined, as well as non-public school sources of students such as homeschooling and private schools.   

Additional state-level public school enrollment and high school graduate data obtained since the 10th edition of Knocking at the College Door, published in 2020, are also available with this release. Visit

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