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The National Catholic Educational Association conducts Catholic education research as well as providing private education resources for a range of audiences.

The following Catholic School Trend Data information is an excerpt from an association report at

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 through 2000, there was a steady enrollment increase (1.3%) despite continued closings of schools.

In the 10 years since the 2008 school year, 1,336 schools were reported closed or consolidated (18.1%), while 270 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 2008 is 1,026 schools (13.9%). The number of students declined by 435,537 (19.2%).

The most seriously impacted have been elementary schools. Since 2008, elementary school enrollment has declined by 27.5% in the 12 urban dioceses and 19.4% in the rest of the U.S.

While the reported closures in the 12 large urban areas of the country is 476 over the past decade, the actual decrease in number of elementary schools in those dioceses since 2008 is 338 schools (19.9%). This is due to the same reasons stated above for the overall numbers.

There has been some good news as well during the 2008-18 period as 297 new schools opened in all parts of the country.


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