The Population Research Center (PRC) regularly conducts demographic studies for school districts. The most commonly requested projects are for enrollment forecasts for school districts, or for a district and its individual schools. Other demographic research projects that we have undertaken for school districts include attendance area boundary change scenarios, board member reapportionment, estimates of student generation from new housing, and field surveys to determine district or sub-area age distribution and household composition. Results typically take the form of a written report and a presentation to a school board, committee, or administrators.
The studies are individually tailored to the specific district, but rely on similar data sources and demographic methods. Commonly used data sources include historic enrollment information provided by the district, population and housing data from the U.S. Census Bureau, birth data from the Oregon Center for Health Statistics, city and county population estimates produced by PRC, population forecasts from the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis or local counties or councils of governments, employment trends and forecasts from the Oregon Employment Department, housing development data, planning documents, and spatial (GIS) data from local jurisdictions, and personal interviews with city, county, and school district officials and business people.
Long-range and Mid-range Forecasts
The forecast horizon may vary due to the needs of the district. A long-range forecast, typically needed for facilities planning, usually includes 10 years of future enrollments, but in some cases may extend as far as 15 or 20 years, with the understanding that a 20 year forecast involves major uncertainties. A mid-range forecast, sufficient for budget planning, staffing, transportation planning, and allocation of existing facilities, usually includes five years of future enrollments.
In a mid-range forecast, the progression of current students through the grade levels accounts for the largest part of future enrollment, and trends in the number of new students entering kindergarten or first grade are closely related to trends in the number of births that have already occurred within the district. Therefore, the forecast models rely on expected ratios of kindergarten enrollment to births, and expected grade progression rates (GPRs), or ratios of enrollment in a specific grade in one year to the enrollment of the same age cohort in the previous year. Information about program changes, planned or proposed housing development, or trends in private school, charter school, or home school enrollment may be used to adjust the kindergarten to birth ratios and GPRs for the district and its individual schools.
In a long-range forecast, we combine the GPR enrollment model with a demographic cohort-component model used to forecast population for the district by age and sex. The components of population change are births, deaths, and migration. Using age-specific fertility rates, age-sex specific mortality rates, age-sex specific migration rates, estimates of recent net migration levels, and forecasts of future migration levels, each component is applied to the base year population in a manner that simulates the actual dynamics of population change. Assumptions about future migration levels may rely on employment growth, residential land capacity, or other factors addressed in regional or local plans.
Enrollment Forecast Studies
Since 2006 we have completed enrollment forecast studies for more than 25 public school districts and a private school. Reports are archived at the PSU Library's PDXScholar site:
For information about demographic studies for educational planning, please contact: