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Highlights from the 2021 NAEP Monthly School Survey

These highlights present selected results from the 2021 NAEP Monthly School Survey. Results for student enrollment, especially full-time, in-person public school enrollment, during January–May 2021 are summarized. Data were collected from nationally representative samples of public and private schools with a grade 4 or a grade 8. These highlights provide insight into the learning opportunities for students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

See the monthly school survey dashboard for more details about the survey and additional results. Readers may explore factors such as hybrid learning and the amount of time that students received live instruction during remote learning.           

When interpreting the enrollment results presented here, readers are encouraged to keep in mind that these results do not account for multiple factors outside of the survey that may affect the results. Factors such as population density, COVID-19 infection rates, resources, and policies may influence the correlation between learning mode and the student groups reported here. Since the representation of racial/ethnic student groups vary across school locations and regions, it is important to consider the broader demographic patterns in the United States when interpreting the descriptive statistics presented.

In-person enrollment increased from January to May 2021, with about half of grade 4 and grade 8 public school students attending full-time, in-person by the end of May 2021

In 2021, the percentage of fourth-grade public school students enrolled in full-time, in-person instruction increased from 38 percent in January to 52 percent in May, with the percentage enrolled in remote only learning decreasing from 43 percent to 24 percent over the same time frame.

At grade 8, the percentage of public school students enrolled in full-time, in-person instruction increased from 28 percent in January to 46 percent in May 2021, and the percentage enrolled in remote only learning decreased from 48 percent to 30 percent over the same time period.

Figure | Percentage of fourth-grade students enrolled in public schools full-time, in-person: January 2021 to May 2021
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Type of enrollment

Enrollment patterns varied by regions, school locations, and student groups

For fourth-grade public school students, by the end of May 2021…

64%
of students in the Midwest region were enrolled full-time, in-person
compared to
68%
of students in town and rural schools were enrolled full-time, in-person
compared to
40%
of students in city schools
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66%
of White students
were enrolled full-time, in-person
compared to
27%
of Asian students
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Percentages of grade 4 and grade 8 public school students enrolled in full-time, in-person instruction increased across regions of the country (with reportable results) by the end of May 2021

There were some notable variations across the regions in the percentages of public school students at grades 4 and 8 enrolled in full-time, in-person instruction in the Northeast, South, and Midwest regions. At both grades 4 and 8 in May 2021, students attending schools in the Midwest and South were more likely to be enrolled in full-time, in-person instruction compared to their peers attending public schools in the Northeast.

  • At grade 4 in May, 64 percent of public school students in the Midwest enrolled in full-time, in-person instruction compared to 59 percent in the South and 46 percent in the Northeast. Results were not available for the West region.
  • At grade 8 in May, 59 percent of public school students in the Midwest enrolled in full-time, in-person instruction compared to 53 percent in the South and 35 percent in the Northeast. Results were not available for the West region.

Readers should note that the dashed lines in the graphics below indicate the percentages of students who were offered the various instructional options. This information allows users to look at student enrollment in the context of what their schools offered. For example, the percentage of fourth-grade public school students in the Midwest region who were offered full-time, in-person instruction increased from 57 percent in January to 75 percent in May 2021. Please select “Mode offered” in the Controls & Legend panel or “TABLE” view of the graphic for more details.

Figure | Percentage of fourth-grade students enrolled in public schools full-time, in-person, by region of the country: January 2021 to May 2021
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Grade
Type of enrollment
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Full-time, in-person offered to all students

To see the results for the states that participated (and to see the variations within the regions), explore the map below. For example, in the South region among states with reportable results, the percentages of fourth-grade public school students enrolled in full-time, in-person instruction in May 2021 ranged from 89 percent in Louisiana to 6 percent in Virginia.

Figure | Percentage of fourth-grade students enrolled in public schools full-time, in-person, by state/jurisdiction: January 2021 to May 2021
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ME
AK
VT
NH
WA
ID
MT
ND
MN
MI
NY
MA
OR
UT
WY
SD
IA
WI
OH
PA
NJ
CT
RI
CA
NV
CO
NE
MO
IL
IN
HI
AZ
NM
KS
WV
MD
DC
DE
AR
TN
KY
SC
NC
VA
OK
LA
MS
AL
GA
TX
FL
PR
West Region
Midwest Region
Northeast
Region
South
Region
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Grade
Type of enrollment
Map tiles
STATE
100%0%JanMay
Not available. State/jurisdiction declined to participate.
Reporting standards not met.

In most locations, percentages of grade 4 and grade 8 public school students enrolled in full-time, in-person instruction increased by the end of May 2021

The overall pattern of increases in full-time, in-person learning for public school students was also reflected in the results by school location, but there were differences across the locations. At both grades 4 and 8 in May 2021, students attending public schools in rural or town locations were more likely to be enrolled full-time, in-person compared to their peers attending public schools in city or suburban locations.

  • At grade 4 in May, 68 percent of public school students in town and rural locations were enrolled in full-time, in-person instruction compared to 51 percent in suburban locations and 40 percent in city locations.
  • At grade 8 in May, 58 percent of public school students in rural locations and 56 percent in town locations were enrolled in full-time, in-person instruction compared to 43 percent in suburban locations and 35 percent in city locations.
Figure | Percentage of fourth-grade students enrolled in public schools full-time, in-person, by school location: January 2021 to May 2021
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Grade
Type of enrollment
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Full-time, in-person offered to all students

Percentages of White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian grade 4 and grade 8 public school students enrolled in full-time, in-person instruction increased by the end of May 2021

Throughout the five-month window of data collection, White public school students were more likely to be enrolled in full-time, in-person instruction than were their Black, Hispanic, and Asian student peers.

  • At grade 4 in May, 66 percent of White public school students enrolled in full-time, in-person instruction compared to 41 percent of Black, 45 percent of Hispanic, and 27 percent of Asian public school students.
  • At grade 8 in May, 57 percent of White public school students enrolled in full-time, in-person instruction in May compared to 37 percent of Black, 37 percent of Hispanic, and 20 percent of Asian public school students.

Conversely, Asian public school students were more likely to be enrolled in remote only instruction than were their Black, Hispanic, and White student peers.

  • At grade 4 in May, 51 percent of Asian public school students enrolled in remote only instruction compared to 14 percent of White, 35 percent of Black, and 28 percent of Hispanic public school students.
  • At grade 8 in May, 59 percent of Asian public school students enrolled in remote only instruction compared to 18 percent of White, 42 percent of Black, and 38 percent of Hispanic public school students.
Figure | Percentage of fourth-grade students enrolled in public schools full-time, in-person, by selected racial/ethnic groups: January 2021 to May 2021
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Grade
Type of enrollment
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Full-time, in-person offered to all students