Three Ways to Tell Your Student Enrollment Forecasts Are Accurate
Since it’s the new year we’ve got a pop quiz for you: what makes an accurate student enrollment forecast?
Enrollment forecasts are a critical tool for all long-term planning efforts. They inform everything from staffing to school capacity planning in your school district. But how much do you really know about the quality of the enrollment forecasts you rely on?
Here are three ways to tell if you have the enrollment forecasts you need to confidently plan for the future of your district.
1. Your student enrollment forecast uses good data.
- Birth data at the county or district level (or at a more granular level, if possible) from your state department of health
- Historical population information from the census and/or state reporting agency
- Recent population forecasts from a state or public reporting agency
- Data from your school district regarding current enrollment and historical enrollment from at least the last 5 years
- Residential development data for the next 5–10 years from county or municipal planners
2. Your enrollment forecast took time to create.
Producing truly accurate enrollment forecasts takes time. Assessing district historical enrollment and program trends, engaging with municipal planners and developers to learn about impending land use and development projections in your community, and researching current county birthrate trends all take time and are crucial steps in true forecasting processes.
3. You’re not relying simply on forecasting software.
When it comes to developing reliable forecasts, enrollment forecasting software cannot replace an experienced demographer. Enrollment forecasts must be supported by professionals who understand school districts and their many characteristics to best predict which trends will continue or change course in the future. Plus, familiarity with a district and consistency of data and methods used by those preparing forecasts will help to improve the accuracy of enrollment forecasts over time.
If your forecasts don’t take these uncertainties into consideration, they may not be as accurate and reliable as you need them to be to best plan for the future.
Ready to learn more? Head to our enrollment forecasting services page.
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...Kent Martin