Sub-District School Enrollment Projections Using Student Level Records: An Application to Santa Barbara City Schools

Stuart H. Sweeney, University of California, Santa Barbara
Erin Middleton, University of California, Santa Barbara

School districts throughout California are struggling with uncertainty in primary school enrollment levels. Some areas of the state are witnessing soaring enrollment levels due to immigration while other areas with expensive housing stock and aging populations are expected to decline. State level budget problems, the increasing popularity home/private schooling, and school choice laws at the local level have resulted in extreme uncertainty about the expected enrollment levels at individual schools in some district. Santa Barbara city schools provide an excellent example of enrollment instability and the costs associated with poor enrollment forecasts. This research uses student level records from the Santa Barbara city schools to evaluate the nature of the instability in past enrollment forecasts. We also evaluate several alternative projection models which account for inter- and intra-district transfers. The work is relatively unique in attempting school level, rather than district level, forecasts.

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Presented in Session 64: Population Projections in the 21st Century