Facilities Master Plan

Enrollment and Capacity Projections

SCHOOL ENROLLMENT PROJECTION METHODOLOGY
FOR FALLS CHURCH CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Upon request by Falls Church City Public Schools, the Weldon Cooper Center produced 15-year school enrollment projections in October 2012.

DATA USED IN MAKING THE PROJECTIONS

The data used in creating a set of school enrollment projections are births, obtained from the VA Center for Health Statistics, and student enrollment counts, provided by the school division.

GRADE-PROGRESSION METHOD

The birth data are used to make a projection of kindergarten enrollment. The number of births from a given year is used to project the number of kindergarten students five years later (when the children are old enough to begin school). For enrollment projections beyond the 2016-17 school year, the number of births must also be projected. For Falls Church, births were projected using a five-year average of the most recent known birth counts. This method performed better than an extrapolation of known birth counts.

The school enrollment data, which is obtained for each grade separately, are used to predict the next year's enrollment using grade-progression ratios. A grade-progression ratio is the number of students in a particular grade divided by the number of students in the previous grade in the previous school year.

For example, if the current number of 2nd grade students is divided by last year's 1st grade students, the result is the 2nd grade/1st grade-progression ratio. The grade-progression ratio captures a cohort of children as they move forward in time and progress from grade to grade.

Grade-progression ratios between every pair of consecutive grades are calculated, but

because these grade-progression ratios can sometimes fluctuate considerably from one year to another, it is important to create additional sets of grade-progression ratios to determine which set is most dependable. The Cooper Center does this by creating an average grade-progression ratio based on the most recent three years' and five years' data. All three grade-progression ratios are applied to the last known school enrollment data to obtain forecasts for the following year, which then become the basis for forecasting enrollment the year after. The single- and multiple-year grade progression ratios are compared and the best series is selected. For Falls Church, the one-year grade progression ratio was used to produce the final school enrollment projections.