1996 Enrollments - Delaware Schools

  • Placed within historical context, the current status of school enrollments is provided in the following topics:

    Enrollment Growth Continues

    For the twelfth consecutive year, Delaware school enrollments have grown, increasing by 19,881 students since the 1985-86 school year.

    During that period:
    • Public school enrollments grew by 17,648 students
    • Nonpublic school enrollments grew by 2,233 students
    • The Baby Boom Echo continues to drive public and nonpublic school enrollments, but at a much slower pace than during the Baby Boom years.
    • From 1956 to 1970 public school enrollment grew by 95%, while nonpublic school enrollment grew by 27%
    • From 1985 to 1996 public school enrollment grew by 19%, while nonpublic school enrollment grew by 10%
    • Nonpublic enrollments include out-of-state students. In September 1996, 10.5% of the nonpublic enrollment was comprised of nonresident students.

    Public School Enrollment by Grades, Past, Present, & Future

    Public school enrollments continue to rebound from the decline of the seventies as the Baby Boom Echo reverberates across the grades.

    • In 1983, grade K-4 enrollment started to increase
    • In 1991, grade 9-12 enrollment started to increase
    • In 1987, grade 5-8 enrollment started to increase

    Total enrollments are projected to continue to increase into the new century. However, the enrollment by grade composition is expected to change. Enrollment projections suggest an:

    • Increasing demand for additional fiscal resources
    • Increasing demand for grade 5-12 teachers
    • Increasing demand for additional classrooms
    • Decreasing demand for grade K-4 teachers

    Rise of Special Education

    Since the 1950's, public school special education enrollment has grown at a rate exceeding that of regular enrollment.

    • In 1955, there were 454 special education students comprising 0.7% of the enrollment
    • In 1975, there were 7,598 special education students comprising 6% of the enrollment
    • In 1996, there were 13,289 special education students comprising 12% of the enrollment

    FTE* Special Education Populations: Changing Distributions

    *Derived by formula to aggregate full-time and part-time special education students for funding purposes.

    Special Education funding is driven by the number of FTE students within disability categories. Each disability category has a specific teacher/pupil funding ratio, ranging from 1:4 for autistic children to 1:15 for educable mentally handicapped children.

    • Since 1970, the FTE learning disabled population (funding ratio 1:8) has increased by 7,381 students or +1,110%.
    • Since 1970, the FTE educable mentally handicapped population (funding ratio 1:15) has decreased by 1,442 students or -63%
    • Since 1985, the FTE seriously emotionally disturbed population (funding ratio 1:10) has decreased by 1,533 students or -80%
    • Since 1981, the FTE intensive learning center population (funding ratio 1:8.6) has increased by 619 students or +72%
    • Since 1990, the FTE "other" special education populations increased by 592 students or +51%. Most of this change was driven by increases in the physically impaired (+136%), trainable mentally handicapped (+39%) and autistic (+48%) populations.

    Public School Enrollment Demographics

    Between 1950 and 1996 public school enrollments increased by 63,009 students. However, this growth was unevenly distributed.

    • Non-minority enrollment rose and fell precipitously reflecting the Baby Boom of World War II before leveling off at approximately 70,000 students.
    • Minority enrollment, although fluctuating somewhat between 1975-85, steadily increased and now stands at 39,902 students -- about equal to the non-minority enrollment of 1950.
    • These demographic changes produced a more diverse student population. In 1950, 21.5% of the students were minority, whereas in 1996 36.1% of the students were minority.

    The dissimilar rates of growth that narrowed the gap between nonminority and minority enrollments have been attributed to:

    • Increased educational opportunities for minorities
    • Different fertility rates
    • Different immigration patterns
    • Age differences among populations

    Public School Demographics as a Percentage of 1950 Enrollments

    Immigration, age groupings and fertility rates within populations drive the demographic changes altering the complexion of the school enrollments.

    Non-minority factors include*:

    • Reduction of fertility rates from the 2.9 per female of the Baby Boom years to 1.7 (a ratio of 2.1 is considered necessary for a generation to replace itself)
    • Aging population (average age 31) moving out of child-bearing years
    • Little non-minority immigration

    Minority factors include*:

    • Increasing fertility rates (e.g., African-American women 2.4; Mexican-American women 2.9)
    • Young population (average age of African-Americans - 25; Hispanic-Americans - 23) entering child-bearing years
    • Extensive minority immigration

    * As of 1986