Enrollment Forecasting – How Does That Work

DeKalb Schools recently released 7-year enrollment forecasts for the Dunwoody and Chamblee clusters as well as all the other schools in the district. How does the school district forecast enrollment?

Enrollment Forecasting Process

Mobility (Survival) Rates
A mobility or survival rate is based on the ratio of students in a grade to students in the previous year and previous grade. Here is an example of a Mobility Rate Table (Dunwoody ES):

Births and Kindergarten
The average ratio of Kindergarten students to Births (6 years prior) in each elementary attendance area forms the basis for the forecasted Kindergarten.

Housing – Yield Rates
Students generated by future development are projected using the average students per unit (yield rate) residing in previous developments of similar type and location.

A new townhome development with 100 units in Dunwoody ES attendance area
would be expected to yield:
16 Students at Dunwoody ES (100 x 0.1578)
3 Students at Peachtree MS (100 x 0.0279)
6 Students at Dunwoody HS (100 x 0.0624)
1 Student attending another DCSD school (100 x 0.0111)(e.g. Chamblee MS Magnet)
3 Students attending private schools (100 x 0.0277)

Housing Development
The school district uses a number of methods to determine future housing developments. They ask local jurisdictions to send them data on upcoming developments. They regularly have meetings with local jurisdictions to discuss upcoming developments. They pay AxiomMetrics for their insight into upcoming developments.

Students Living To Enrollment Forecast
After forecasting all students living in an attendance area, assumptions are made, based on historic trends, for the number of residents attending other DCSD schools and the number of non-resident attendees coming into the school.

15 responses to “Enrollment Forecasting – How Does That Work

  1. Seems reasonable

  2. Adrienne Duncan

    Stan–the last table, Students Living to Enrollment Forecast doesn’t mention resident students in private school. That means the number of resident students in the area is underestimated. And private school students moving into public schools doesn’t get counted.
    The forecast also doesn’t mention the trend of residents putting their kids in private school for MS, then back into DHS for HS.


  3. @Adrienne, Would students leaving and coming back from private school be accounted for in the mobility section?

  4. The projections will be off when things are changing and drawing a straight line doesn’t actually pan out. When the perception of a school is changing then you are going to capture more students and vice versa.

    The mobility data shows Dunwoody keeps most kids through 2nd grade. Then a few start to transfer, another bigger dip in 6th, then when the K-8 private schools end, DES gets some transfers into DHS. A few people leave in 10th and 11th and pretty much everybody continues on to 12th.

  5. Adrienne Duncan

    @Stan Possibly – but there’s no breakout on where the “mobility” is happening – relocation within the city vs private school migration. If they could categorize what causes mobility then it might help.

  6. I just noticed the “House Development” image has inaccurate numbers for High Street. I wonder if the other numbers are wrong as well. The reporter says 1,500 condos and 1,500 apartments at high street: https://www.reporternewspapers.net/2018/11/30/dunwoodys-high-street-gains-new-development-partner-says-construction-to-begin-next-year/

    The image says 900 condos and 600 apartments at High Street. I’ll ask Drake what’s up with that.

  7. Stan,
    You might also ask whether DCSD ever goes back to check the yield rates that they use for enrollment forecasting.

    For example, how does the actual Dunwoody Townhome high school yield rate compare to the Dunwoody Townhome high school yield rate of .0624 that’s in the chart above?

    Further, the chart shows the yield rate for high school students to be less than half that for elementary school students. But things are changing in real estate. Dunwoody Townhomes are priced so high now, with single family homes even higher, that folks might tend to stay put rather than trading up as their kids get older. So maybe the high school yield rate for Townhomes might be higher in the future.

  8. Yield Rate – The biggest part of the yield rate is the number of grades. Elementary school is 6 grades and middle school is 3 grades, so I would expect roughly twice the yield rate for elementary than middle schools.

  9. At Anonymous: Yield rates are recalculated fairly regularly – usually annually. The yield rate in Dunwoody 3 years ago would likely be quite different than currently. Contrary to popular opinion, the Planning Dept. does try to use accurate data.

  10. @Stan: You’re confusing “yield rate” and “yield.” The “yield rate” is per housing unit (calculated by dividing the # of housing units by the # of students generated.) The “yield” is the number of students that a development would generate based on # of units times the yield rate.

  11. Rick Williamson

    @ Stan: Axiometrics only tracks apartment development. They use a different service to track residential housing like SF, townhomes & condos.)

  12. @Insider – Yield Rate – Yield … thank you.

  13. @Rick, They mentioned that Axiometrics was the only service they used. Otherwise they said they go straight to the local jurisdiction.

  14. I think Hans did a great job presenting this process. I wish it had been recorded and posted online for all stakeholders to see. My concern is that DCSD doesn’t have a great track-record for projecting long-term enrollment. Heck, they sometimes struggle to project enrollment at an individual school from February to August, leading to collapsing classes, hiring additional teachers, or “balancing” classes at the high school, which can disrupt students’ schedules several weeks into the school year and cause havoc to students’ grades/GPA. I wonder if DCSD has looking into the impact middle school has on shifting student populations. Many families want to avoid the public mega-middle schools, particularly if their children don’t test into the gifted program. What if we kept students in K-7 schools with teachers who know them and allowed 6th and 7th graders to be school leaders and role models? What if the state tesumed funding for “high-achievers” classrooms for students who just miss the gifted cut-off, but are nonetheless exceptional students? What if we eliminated Kitteedge and Wadsworth and instead formed a gifted and high-achievers magnet in each cluster or region? The status quo is not working in DCSD as well as we had hoped. Let’s find better solutions to serve our communities and address overcrowding, DCSD.

  15. At least 300 people on the waitlist at GLOBE.