Decennial censuses reveal changing population dynamics in NEPA

WILKES-BARRE — Jill Avery-Stoss, director of operations at the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development, said this week that the Institute’s annual indicator report contains a variety of data sets focused on the ‘education.

“And we’ve seen an increase in charter school enrollment since 2020,” Avery-Stoss said. “There has also been an increase in enrollment in non-public schools – most likely the result of parents considering new options for educating their children during the pandemic. Statewide, however, the ratio of public to nonpublic listings has not changed significantly.

The report shows that in 2021, 1,854 students were enrolled in Lackawanna County charter schools and 2,377 in Luzerne County charter schools. Over the previous year, this is an increase of approximately 61% in Lackawanna County and more than 56% in Luzerne County.

Charter school enrollment in both counties is significantly higher than it was just five years ago. The Scranton, Wilkes-Barre Area, and Hazleton Area school districts had the highest number of students enrolled in charter schools.

Among other measures of academic performance—such as attendance, dropout rates, and standardized test and SAT scores—significant variation from district to district and school to school is the most notable trend.

Four-year high school graduation rates in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties have been trending upward since the decline in the 2017-18 school year. Dropouts have declined since the 2016-17 academic year, with 2019-20 representing the lowest level in several years in either county. The pandemic did not appear to interfere with students graduating from high school on time – if anything, the available data overwhelmingly shows the opposite to be true.

For more students to pursue higher education and succeed in the job market, it is important that schools that struggle to measure academic performance continue to strive for improvement despite the different socio-economic contexts of communities they serve.

“These efforts should not rest solely with educators,” Avery-Stoss added. “They must be complemented by work to improve socio-economic contexts – ensuring that children come to school ready to learn by reducing poverty, food insecurity, housing insecurity and hardship. of physical and mental health”.

According to Avery-Stoss, relatively large shares of the workforce in both counties have an associate’s degree level. However, the share of the population age 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher continues to be below the state average and this share has declined somewhat in Luzerne County.

Emerging industries and professions require a wide range of education and training opportunities, including apprenticeship programs, associate degrees or trade school programs, on-the-job training, certificates, diplomas and college and university degrees. In 2019-20, nearly 7,600 degrees were awarded in the two-county region, many in key areas like health care and business.

This number includes 1,837 two-year certificates and diplomas, 3,113 four-year diplomas and 2,639 postgraduate diplomas. The highest number of total completions were in Registered Nursing (530 completions), General Business Administration and Management (400 completions), and Accounting (289 completions).

“The total number of degrees awarded represents a slight decrease from the previous, pre-pandemic academic year,” Avery-Stoss continued. “Nevertheless, Northeast Pennsylvania’s impressive and diverse group of higher education institutions will continue to be an asset in preparing students for success in the job market in a competitive economy.”

Contact Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.