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Public school indicators for Canada, the provinces and territories

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2001/2002 to 2007/2008  (Previous release)

Just over 5.1 million students were enrolled in publicly funded elementary and secondary schools in Canada during the academic year 2007/2008, down 0.9% from the previous year. This was the lowest level since 1998/1999 when data for the Elementary-Secondary Education Statistics Project were first collected.

Enrolment peaked at nearly 5.4 million students in 2001/2002. Since then, it has declined in every year, as larger cohorts of graduating students were replaced by smaller cohorts of grade 1 students.

Between 2006/2007 and 2007/2008, enrolment declined in every province and territory except Saskatchewan, where it rose 1.2% to just under 172,000. Since 2001/2002, enrolment has fallen in every jurisdiction except Alberta and Nunavut. The greatest declines were in the Atlantic region.

Enrolment in second-language immersion programs in public elementary and secondary schools increased steadily every year. In 2007/2008, more than 311,000 students were enrolled in a second-language immersion program, up 2.2% from a year earlier and 11.6% since 2001/2002.

Enrolment in special needs education has also risen. More than 568,000 students were receiving partial or full-time special needs education in 2007/2008, up 1.1% from 2006/2007. (These data exclude Yukon and Nunavut).

More than 327,000 students graduated from public secondary schools in 2007/2008, a 1.8% increase from the previous year and up 5.2% from 2001/2002 when there were 311,000 graduates.

The graduation rate for publicly funded high schools in 2007/2008 was 71.0%, down from 71.3% in the previous year. (The graduation rate is calculated by dividing the number of graduates from publicly funded high schools by the average of the population aged 17 and 18. It should not be used to infer a dropout rate).

Nationally, the public high school graduation rate was higher for females (74.8%) than for males (67.5%).

Total expenditures in Canada's elementary and secondary schools amounted to $51.2 billion in 2007/2008, up 2.9% from the previous year and 28.6% since 2001/2002. The six-year rate of growth was more than double the rate of inflation of 14.0% as measured by the Consumer Price Index.

In 2007/2008, the average cost to educate a student for one year in Canada reached $10,678. This was a 35.2% increase from 2001/2002, when it cost on average $7,897 to educate a student. This includes all students at the elementary, secondary, adult and vocational levels.

Among the provinces, the annual cost per student in 2007/2008 ranged from $11,086 in Alberta to $9,260 in Prince Edward Island.

Part of the increase in costs per student is explained by the fact that the number of educators (full-time equivalent) increased for the fourth consecutive year as enrolments declined. In 2007/2008, there were just under 333,000 educators, up 1.1% from the previous year.

Between 2001/2002 and 2007/2008, the number of educators aged 29 or younger rose 8.7% to 58,300, while the number of those aged 60 and above more than doubled to 12,500.

Note: Data are obtained from the Departments of Education in each province and territory and cover publicly funded schools.

The term "educator" refers not only to teachers, but to all employees in the public school system who are required to have teaching certification as a condition of their employment. This definition generally includes principals, vice-principals and professional non-teaching staff.

The graduation rate used by the Elementary Secondary Education Statistics Project is aligned with requirements of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development to ensure that Canadian graduation rate data can be compared with other nations. Due to differences in reporting and in the proportion of students educated in private schools, caution should be exercised in comparing graduation rates among Canadian provinces and territories.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 5102.

The report, "Summary public school indicators for Canada, the provinces and territories," is now available as part of the Culture, Tourism and the Centre for Education Statistics: Research Papers (81-595-M2010083, free) series. From the Key resource module of our website choose Publications. It examines trends in enrolment, graduates and the number of educators as well as basic financial statistics, such as total spending and spending per student, in public elementary and secondary schools between 2001/2002 and 2007/2008.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Client Services (toll-free 1-800-307-3382; 613-951-7608; fax: 613-951-4441;, Tourism and the Centre for Education Statistics.