United States Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools 2015-2016:
The Annual Statistical Report on Schools, Enrollment, and Staffing

 

This annual report presents national data on Catholic elementary and secondary schools. Enrollment patterns, regional geographic trends, types and locations of schools, student and staffing demographic characteristics and student participation in selected education programs are reported. Where data permit, the exhibits compare information across the last decade as well as the past five years.

Summary information that NCEA collects about Catholic schools is provided on this website. NCEA does not collect or provide data about public schools or comparisons between public and private schools.  There is no national database that does this. Public school information, as well as some government reports about private schools may be found in the section titled Federal Government Education Statistics.
 
The full report may be purchased from the NCEA online store.
 
 
Learn about:
  • Schools and Enrollment History
  • School Staffing History
  • Public/Private School Comparisons
  • Percentage Distribution of Schools by Enrollment Size
  • Percentage Distribution of Private Schools by Typology
  • Percentage Distribution of Students in Private Schools by Typology
  • Regional Distribution of Elementary/Middle and Secondary Schools
  • Location of Schools
  • Schools by Types of Governance
  • Schools with Boards/Commissions/Councils
  • Single Gender Schools
  • School Openings and Closings
  • Enrollment by Grade Level
  • Enrollment by Region
  • Student Enrollment: States with Ten Highest Enrollments
  • Student Enrollment: Dioceses with Largest Enrollments
  • Diocesan Enrollment Patterns
  • Schools with Waiting Lists
  • Average Tuition and Per Pupil Costs
  • Catholic School Enrollment and Percentages by Race
  • Hispanic/Latino Enrollment
  • Non-Catholic Enrollment
  • Full-Time Equivalent Professional Staff
  • Student/Teacher Ratio
  • Non-Catholic Faculty Numbers and Percentages
  • Faculty Numbers and Percentages by Ethnic Background
  • Schools with Extended Day Programs
  • Students Receiving Title 1 Services
  • Participation in Federal Nutrition Programs
  • Students Receiving Government Subsidized/Free Transportation to School
  • Schools with Student Access to Internet

 

Highlights

 

Enrollment
  • Total Catholic school student enrollment for the current academic year is 1,915,836.
    • 1,337,630 in elementary/middle schools; 578,206 in secondary schools
  • Student diversity: 20.3% are racial minorities, 16.1% are Hispanic/Latino and 6.5% were reported as unknown in the racial data collection.
  • Non-Catholic enrollment is 333,679 which is 17.4% of the total enrollment. 
 
Schools
 
  • There are 6,525 Catholic schools: 5,325 elementary; 1,200 secondary.
  • 14 new schools opened; 86 consolidated or closed.*
  • 1,795 schools have a waiting list for admission.
*The reported number of schools closed includes some that consolidated and re-opened as new entities. The total reported opened is 14 which includes newly built as well as the reconfigured entities.  The net loss of elementary schools is 43 and the number of secondary schools is the same as last year.
  • The student/teacher ratio is 13:1.
 
Professional Staff
  • Full-time equivalent professional staff numbered 151,101:
    • 97.2%: Laity                         (Lay women: 74.7% Lay men: 22.5%)
    • 2.8%:   Religious/Clergy    (Sisters: 1.8%; Brothers: 0.5%; Clergy: 0.5%)
 
 

Catholic School Trend Data 

U. S. Catholic school enrollment reached its peak during the early 1960s when there were more than 5.2 million students in almost thirteen thousand schools across the nation.  The 1970s and 1980s saw a steep decline in both the number of schools and students.  By 1990, there were approximately 2.5 million students in 8,719 schools.   From the mid 1990s though 2000, there was a steady enrollment increase (1.3%) despite continued closings of schools.
 
In the 10 years since the 2006 school year, 1,511 schools were reported closed or consolidated (19.9%), while 314 school openings were reported. Due to different definitions used by dioceses for consolidations, closings and their transitions into new configurations, along with actual new schools opened, the actual decrease in number of schools since 2006 is 1,064 schools (14.0%). The number of students declined by 409,384 (17.6%). The most seriously impacted have been elementary schools.
 
Exhibit 20 details the reported school closures.  The actual decrease in number of elementary schools in the twelve large urban areas of the country since 2006 is 338 schools (19.3%).
 
Exhibit 22 presents the national and elementary enrollment trend data. Since 2006, elementary school enrollment has declined by 27.6% in the 12 urban dioceses and 20.1% in the rest of the U.S.
 

 

Enrollment

  • Total Catholic school student enrollment for the current academic year is 1,915,836.

    • ​1,337,630 in elementary/middle schools; 578,206 in secondary schools

  • ​Student diversity: 20.3% are racial minorities, 16.1% are Hispanic/Latino and 6.5% were reported as unknown in the racial data collection.

  • Non-Catholic enrollment is 333,679 which is 17.4% of the total enrollment. 

 

Enrollment by Grade Level: EXHIBIT 15    

 

2005-2006

20010-2011

2015-2016

Grade Level

Students

%

Students

%

Students

%

Preschool

146,327

8.5

152,846

10.3

160,456

11.8

Kindergarten

175,331

10.2

145,395

9.8

132,019

9.7

Grade 1

174,572

10.2

145,828

9.8

129,041

9.5

Grade 2

174,859

10.2

146,409

9.8

131,126

9.7

Grade 3

175,490

10.2

145,599

9.8

132,295

9.7

Grade 4

174,378

10.2

146,700

9.8

131,634

9.7

Grade 5

176,384

10.3

148,707

10.0

131,833

9.7

Grade 6

176,259

10.3

150,417

10.1

136,325

10.0

Grade 7

170,120

10.0

148,554

10.0

134,442

9.9

Grade 8

169,403

9.9

155,714

10.5

133,064

9.8

Ungraded

1,891

0.1

3,237

0.2

6,386

0.5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Total Preschool - 8

1,715,014

100.0

1,489,406

100.0

1,358,748

100.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grade 9

161,881

26.5

150,673

26.1

141,801

25.5

Grade 10

156,835

25.7

145,197

25.2

141,625

25.4

Grade 11

148,477

24.3

144,197

25.0

137,991

24.8

Grade 12

142,650

23.4

135,700

23.5

134,708

24.2

Ungraded

363

0.1

699

0.1

963

0.2

                                                   

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Total 9 - 12

610,206

100.0

576,466

100.0

557,088

100.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GRAND TOTAL

2,235,220

100.0

2,065,872

100.0

1,915,836

100.0

* NB: Because some elementary schools have a ninth grade and some secondary schools have grades 6-8 in their totals, this distribution does not match that in Exhibits 16 and 26.

 

Enrollment by Region: EXHIBIT 16

The national enrollment data, charted by region in Exhibit 16, show that the Mideast and Great Lakes regions enroll almost half the Catholic school population (45.9%).  This percentage does indicate a decline from 50.2% over the past decade.

 

 

2005-2006

2010-2011

2015-2016

All Schools

Number

%

Number

%

Number

%

New England

144,264

6.1

121,887

5.9

106,706

5.6

Mideast

652,657

27.6

514,802

24.9

444,538

23.2

Great Lakes

534,959

22.6

468,119

22.7

435,741

22.7

Plains

234,041

9.9

215,101

10.4

201,972

10.5

Southeast

347,084

14.7

324,281

15.7

314,913

16.4

West/Far West

450,215

19.1

421,682

20.4

411,966

21.5

United States

2,363,220

100.0

2,065,872

100.0

1,915,836

100.0

                              
 

Enrollment of Non-Catholics: EXHIBIT 27

Most Catholic school students are Catholic.  However, non-Catholic student enrollment has risen from 2.7% in 1970 to 11.2% a decade later and today is 17.4% as shown in Exhibit 27.

 

 

Elementary/Middle

Secondary

All Schools

 

Number

% in Region

Number

% in Region

Number

% in Region

New England

12,314

18.5

7,380

18.4

19,694

18.5

Mideast

57,631

19.6

33,686

22.3

91,317

20.5

Great Lakes

45,995

14.4

23,119

20.0

69,114

15.9

Plains

15,574

10.3

6,531

12.7

22,105

10.9

Southeast

37,148

16.8

19,175

20.6

56,323

17.9

West/Far West

38,080

13.4

37,046

29.1

75,126

18.2

United States

206,742

15.5

126,937

22.2

333,679

17.4

 

National Totals           

Number

%

Catholic

1,526,439

79.7

Non-Catholic

333,679

17.4

Not Reported

55,718

2.9

Total

1,915,836

100.0%

 

Staffing of Catholic Schools: EXHIBIT 28

In 2015-2016, the total, full-time equivalent (FTE) teaching staff in Catholic elementary/middle and secondary schools is 151,101. Over the past decade, the lay faculty percentages increased from 93% to the current 97.2%.  At present, 2.8% of the professional staff are religious and clergy.  Exhibit 28 presents the FTE data by category and percentage.

 

 

Elementary

%

Secondary

%

All Schools

%

Sisters

1,848

1.9

723

1.4

2,571

1.8

Brothers

182

0.2

583

1.1

765

0.5

Clergy

311

0.3

522

1.0

833

0.5

Female Lay

85,361

85.6

27,582

53.7

112,943

74.7

Male Lay

12,058

12.1

21,931

42.7

33,989

22.5

*Total

99,760

100.0

51,341

100.0

151,101

100.0

*Adjusted totals to reflect weighted averages.

  • Lay: 97.2%
  • Religious/Clergy: 2.8%

Schools and Tuition

Regional Distribution

Exhibit 9 presents the number of schools within each of the regions with the percentages of the distribution indicated by level of the schools and the national composite.  Almost half of all the schools (45.8%) are located within the Mideast and Great Lakes regions.

 

 Regional Distribution of Catholic Schools: EXHIBIT 9

  

 

2005-2006

20010-2011

2015-2016

Totals of all schools

Number

%

Number

%

Number

%

New England

495

6.5

427

6.1

399

6.1

Mideast

1,976

26.0

1,668

23.9

1,439

22.1

Great Lakes

1,817

23.9

1,656

23.7

1,546

23.7

Plains

844

11.6

841

12.0

807

12.4

Southeast

972

12.8

969

13.9

934

14.3

West/Far West

1,445

19.0

1,419

20.3

1,400

21.5

United States

7,589

100.0

6,980

100.0

6,525

100.0

                                                                                             

 

Location of SchoolsEXHIBIT 10

Although there has been a significant decrease in the total number of Catholic schools during the past four decades, the church has not lost sight of its commitment to educate children, particularly those of the poor, within the inner cities and urban areas.  Schools in these areas remain a significant presence: four decades ago 47.9% were located in urban and inner city areas, today 40.9% of the schools are still in urban/inner city locales despite population losses and great financial difficulties in maintaining them.  During that same period of time, suburban schools increased from 25.0% to 38.8% of the total.

 

 

Elementary/Middle

Secondary

National Totals

 

Number

%

Number

%

Number

%

Urban

1,545

29.0

435

36.3

1,980

30.3

Inner-City

555

10.4

135

11.3

690

10.6

Suburban

2,079

39.0

451

37.6

2,530

38.8

Rural

1,146

21.5

179

14.9

1,325

20.3

Total

5,325

100.0

1,200

100.0

6,525

100.0

 

Single Gender SchoolsEXHIBIT 13

The 2015-2016 data indicate that 1.4% of all Catholic elementary schools are single gender and 30.7 % of secondary are single gender.  Exhibit 13 illustrates their distribution.

 

 

Number

 %

           Elementary/Middle

77

1.4%  of elementary schools

           Secondary

369

30.7%  of secondary schools

           Total Single Gender

446

6.8%  of all schools

 

 

Tuition and Costs:  EXHIBIT 24

Tuition fees paid by families constitute a portion of the actual per pupil expenses.  The average per pupil tuition in parish elementary schools is $3,880 which is approximately 68.1% of actual costs per pupil of $5,847.  About 93.9% of elementary schools provide some form of tuition assistance.  

The secondary mean freshman tuition is $9,622 which is approximately 81.6% of actual costs per pupil of $11,790.  About 97% of secondary schools provide some form of tuition assistance.

The difference between the per pupil cost and the tuition charged is obtained in many ways, primarily through direct subsidy from parish, diocesan or religious congregation resources and from multi-faceted development programs and fund-raising activities.


 

Average Tuition and Per Pupil Costs

Elementary

Mean parish school tuition:             $3,880.            Per pupil cost:  $5,847.

Secondary

Mean freshman tuition:                    $9,622             Per pupil cost:  $11,790.

 

The average public school per pupil cost of $12,608, as reported by the National Center for Education Statistics, includes both elementary and secondary schools. (On average, secondary school costs are higher than elementary, but are not reported separately.)

Based on the public schools cost, Catholic schools provide almost $24 billion dollars a year savings for the nation.


 

 

Student Race and Ethnicity

Student diversity in Catholic schools has increased significantly in the past 40 years.  When data were first collected, the Hispanic/Latino population was included and the reports listed non-Whites as “minorities.”  In 1970, the diversity percentage was 10.8%, in 1980 it had increased to 19.4% and by 2010 was 29.8%.  In 2016, the racial diversity is 20.3% and Hispanic/Latino is 16.1%.  NCEA will no longer use the minority identifier, but instead report racial and ethnic diversity separately.

  

Catholic School Enrollment and Percentages by Race: EXHIBIT 26a    

 

 

Elementary/Middle

Secondary

All Schools

 

Number

%

Number

%

Number

%

American Indian/ Native Alaskan

10,865

0.8

2,838

0.5

13,703

0.7%

Asian

68,538

5.1

39,084

6.2

104,622

5.5

Black

96,686

7.2

51,093

8.8%

147,779

7.7

Native Hawaiian/ Pacific islander

8,297

0.6

2,108

0.4

10,405

0.5

Multiracial

82,259

601

30,327

5.2

112,586

5.9

White

984,849

73.6

416,726

72.1

1,401,575

73.2

Unknown

86,136

6.4

39,030

6.8

125,166

6.5

Total

1,337,630

100.0%

578,206

100.0%

1,915,836

100.0%

                                                                                   

Hispanic/Latino Enrollment and Percentages: EXHIBIT 26b

 

 

Elementary/Middle

Secondary

All Schools

 

Number

%

Number

%

Number

%

New England

5,779

8.7

2,551

6.3

8,289

7.8

Mideast

41,069

14.0

17,656

11.7

58,727

13.2

Great Lakes

35,910

11.2

11,307

9.8

27,217

10.8

Plains

11,134

7.4

3,089

6.0

14,232

7.0

Southeast

32,792

14.8

13,683

14.7

46,475

14.8

West/Far West

95,003

33.4

37,711

29.6

132,714

32.2

Total

221,686

16.6

85,968

14.9

307,654

16.1

 

 

 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP ) Results

Private school results on NAEP and other national assessments, where separate data are available, can be found on by following the links below.

 

SAT Results

 

Private School Studies and Report

 

International Studies

Statistical Resources for Nonpublic Schools

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has prepared a comprehensive guide to statistical reports dealing with different aspects of private schools.  A Guide to National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Surveys, Studies, and Reports of Interest to the Private and Home School Communities is available here.  The guide is arranged by categories listed below.

  • Primary Surveys and Studies Involving Private Schools and Homeschooling
  • Private School Universe Survey  (PSS)
  • Schools and Staffing Survey  (SASS )
  • National Household Education Surveys Program)  (NHES)
  • National Assessment of Educational Progress  (NAEP)

 

Other Reports

  • Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-99  (ECLS-K)
  • Education Longitudinal Study of 2002  (ELS:2002
  • Current Population Survey  (CPS):  October Supplement

 

Annual Reports

  • Condition of Education  (COE)
  • Digest of Education Statistics  (Digest)

 

Links to each of the individual reports can be found here.

Data Forms for 2016-2017

Databank Data Collection paper forms: The hard copy pdf forms for the annual collection of statistical information for Catholic Schools are available for download and copying. These forms cannot be used for electronic submission of data.

Click here for the new directions for reporting Race and Ethnicity.
 

Electronic Submission of Data

 For Schools:

Instead of the paper form, an Excel Workbook for school reporting is available. The form includes sheets with the Instructions and Race/Ethnicity guidelines. This form must be submitted to the Diocesan Schools Office, not to NCEA.
 

For Diocesan Schools Office:

Instead of the paper form, an Excel Workbook for the Diocesan Data Summary is available.  It can be downloaded and completed electronically and returned to NCEA via email when completed. This is only for Diocesan Education Offices.  Be sure and save the Excel Workbook to your local computer after opening the form.

A second school form  can be modified by the Diocesan Schools Office to collect additional data from each school. After it is modified by the Schools Office, it can be distributed to each school. To obtain access to this form contact Margaret Schultz: databank@ncea.org