What You Need to Know About Student Enrollment Forecasting
Student enrollment forecasts are critically important to all long-term planning efforts. They inform everything from staffing to school capacity planning. But how much do you really know about the forecasts you’re using? Here are the four things you need to know about student enrollment forecasting (no demography degree required!) to be the most strategic school district leader possible.
1. Good data in = good data out.
Enrollment forecasts should be created using a robust set of accurate information from a variety of stakeholders. You can help ensure forecasts are as accurate as possible by providing consistent enrollment data to your enrollment forecasters and engaging with them to review and validate data inputs.
2. Timing matters.
Creating truly accurate enrollment forecasts can take some time. To ensure you have enrollment forecasts when you need them, schedule the analysis in advance, allowing time for data gathering, conversations with land use planners, and check-ins with appropriate staff or enrollment consultants, if you’re using them.
3. Different forecast, different use.
The two main kinds of forecasts—building/program enrollment and residence-based—are used for different purposes. Building/program enrollment forecasts represent headcount at a school and can be used for planning school capacities, number of teachers, and more. Residence-based forecasts represent the number of students living within a school’s attendance area, and they should be used for boundary reviews or any time attendance areas are slated to change during the forecast range.
4. It’s an art and a science.
When it comes to developing reliable forecasts, there’s no enrollment forecasting software that can replace an experienced demographer. Enrollment forecasts need to be supported by someone who understands a district and its many characteristics to best predict which trends will continue or change course in the future.
The old adage “practice makes perfect” really applies here. Consistency of data and methods used by those preparing forecasts will help to improve the accuracy of enrollment forecasts over time. Ready to learn more? We’ve got all the technical details you need to make informed decisions about enrollment forecasting in our blog post.