Oct 2, 2023 - News

CPS enrollment rises for first time in 12 years

Illustration of a chalkboard in the shape of an upward arrow.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

This semester, CPS officials saw their first enrollment increase in more than a decade.

Why it matters: Enrollment declines can translate into decreased state and federal funding and potentially more school closings.

The big picture: The increase was small — just 0.4% — but it represents a big trend reversal in a district that has lost 20% of its students in the last decade, according to Chalkbeat.

  • CPS hadn't seen a bump since the 2011-2012 school year, when enrollment hit 404,151.
  • This year's slight increase brought CPS' total population to 323,291 students.

What they're saying: "It's important to note that there are many reasons that we were able to maintain and even slightly improve our enrollment this year, including the fact that fewer students left our system," CPS CEO Pedro Martinez said in a statement.

Zoom in: Between the 2021-2022 school year and this year, the district saw a 32% drop in the number of students leaving for schools outside Chicago and a nearly 19% decline in those transferring to non-public schools in Chicago.

State of play: The racial makeup of the district remains largely unchanged, with a slight (1.3%) year-over-year increase in Latino students, who now make up 47% of the student population. Other district demographics:

  • 35% Black with a 1.8% decrease
  • 11% white with no change
  • 5% Asian with a 1% increase
  • 10% other or students who identify with more than one group

What's more: Most "priority groups" — students with extra needs — grew in the new school year.

  • Diverse learners — also known as special education students — increased by 5% to nearly 52,000 students.
  • English language learners grew by 10% from last year to 79,833 students — most of the new students speak Spanish but also Russian, Ukrainian and Arabic.
  • Students who identified as living in temporary housing situations grew to nearly 12,000.

What we're watching: The one priority group that did not grow was low-income students, whose numbers dropped by 2.5% in a trend district officials said they'll "continue to analyze."


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