Despite the pandemic and other challenges, it appears Evanston’s public schools are continuing to enroll roughly the same share of students that they attracted a decade ago.

An Evanston Now analysis of school enrollment and U.S. Census data indicates that Evanston/Skokie School District 65 and Evanston Township High School enrolled a slightly higher percentage of the school-age population in 2020 than they did in 2010.

To conduct the analysis we looked at opening of school enrollment data, K-8 for District 65 and all class years for ETHS for the two years a decade apart.

We then compared that to U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year estimate population data for the appropriate age groups within the school districts’ boundaries.

The ACS counts young people in five-year age cohorts, so we had to adjust the census numbers to match the elementary and secondary school age cutoffs and to avoid having the high school population base inflated by the influx of 18- and 19-year-olds to the area to attend Northwestern University.

We then further adjusted the ACS counts to match the total population for the districts recorded by the 2010 and 2020 decennial censuses. (The 2010 ACS population estimates were only a fraction of a percentage point off from the 2010 census, but the 2020 ACS numbers fell nearly 6% short of the 2020 census tally.)

Given the limitations of the available data, some caution should be used in reaching conclusions about small changes in the percentages.

But despite projected future declines in absolute enrollment numbers with declining birth rates in the area, it appears roughly the same percentage of parents in the two districts are opting to send their children to public schools as did a decade ago.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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