Taking a Closer Look at Student Enrollment Forecasting

Author: Jennifer Axelrod Published: May 11, 2017

The FLO team is attending the Washington Association of School Business Officials’ Annual Conference this week, where we’ve been hearing from school districts across the state about their need for more in-depth and easy-to-access student enrollment information. They’re asking: “How can we find out how many students to expect in the future, and what schools are they likely going to attend?”

Read on to learn how we’re answering these questions, and helping school districts plan for the future.

 

Traditional district-wide student enrollment forecasting

Demographers have long provided enrollment forecasts to school districts. These forecasts, while useful in many ways, are traditionally district-wide, and aren’t broken down for individual schools – where it matters most. So, while you might know how many fourth graders to expect for the district in total, you won’t know what the forecast is for individual elementary schools.

Only knowing the total number of students expected throughout the district doesn’t allow you to predict over-crowding in a particular elementary school or under enrollment in another.  It can’t provide insight into enrollment fluctuation for a given school, or help you plan for a time when student enrollment exceeds school capacity. It also doesn’t provide the granular information that’s necessary to make important decisions about the configuration of school facilities, or predict future trends in individual neighborhoods.

Luckily, newer technologies and techniques have created opportunities for a more refined and useful approach to enrollment forecasts. We take enrollment forecasts a step further to provide you with a more detailed understanding of expected enrollment changes for a given school attendance area.

Our geographic approach allows you access to information at multiple scales: from a zoomed-out district-wide perspective, to school attendance areas, within distinct neighborhoods, and all the way down to each individual student.

 

How does the geographic approach work?

Our GIS and Data Analysts use an array of geographic data, from location and age cohorts of students, to local development data, district-wide parcel and land use information, and local, county and national demographic data.

We compile all this data into a unit that makes sense – neighborhoods. From there, we employ various student enrollment forecasting and analysis techniques to understand the changes occurring in each of the individual neighborhoods in your district. We then calculate what this means for individual attendance areas to identify specific catchments and school buildings effected by population change.

In the end, this methodology allows us to deliver forecasts, either by neighborhood, attendance area, or building, that provide detailed and fine scale insight for your district administrators.

 

Benefits of the geographic approach

Our approach to student enrollment forecasting allows you to:

  • Anticipate class sizes at different schools and locate under-utilization and overcrowding
  • Know when specific schools will reach capacity, allowing you to plan appropriately for times of peak enrollment
  • Foresee when enrollment exceeds capacity over time, providing the advantage of knowing where to plan a new facility while minimizing changes to existing attendance areas
  • Make decisions based on more accurate forecasts, as granular data is likely to be more accurate over time

Remember: knowing what the future has in store for your district leads to successful decision making today!

To learn more about our student enrollment forecasting work, click here to navigate to our case studies page.

Questions? Get in touch.