The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic still lingers in the number of students at traditional public schools in North Carolina.

While average daily membership (ADM) at traditional schools is up from last year, it is still below where it was before COVID-19. On the other hand, charter school ADM is now almost 20% higher than before the pandemic. But the bulk of the state’s students are taught in traditional public school settings, with charters making up less than 10% of total ADM.

Last week the state Department of Public Instruction released its first look at how many students are in the state’s public schools.

In the chart below, you can see the ADM numbers for traditional and charter school students in 2019 (pre-pandemic), 2020 (in the peak of the pandemic), 2021 (last year) and now. Traditional schools gained 1.1% from last year to this year but are still down 3.2% overall from before COVID-19. Charter schools gained 6.4% over last year and are up 19.2% from before the pandemic.

DPI defines ADM and its calculation this way:

The total number of school days within a given term — usually a school month or school year — that a student’s name is on the current roll of a class, regardless of his/her being present or absent, is the “number of days in membership” for that student. ADM for each school month is based on the sum of the number of days in membership for all non-violating students in individual LEAs/Charters, divided by the number of days in the school month. The final ADM is the total days in membership for all students over the school year divided by the number of days school was in session. ADM is a more accurate count of the number of students in school than enrollment. 

For more on what ADM is and how if affects school funding, watch Watauga County Schools Superintendent Scott Elliott explain it in this video.

Read the full article about school enrollment during COVID-19 by Alex Granados and Katie Dukes at The 74.