The Impact of Private Schools on Education in the United States

As an expert in the field of education, I have spent countless hours analyzing data and trends related to private schools in the United States. Private schools have long been a popular choice for families, with many parents and educators debating their effectiveness and prevalence. In this article, I will delve into the data on private school enrollment by state, shedding light on which states have the highest percentage of students enrolled in private schools.

The Prevalence of Private Schools by State

One of the most comprehensive sources of data on private school enrollment is the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). According to their data, as of 2019, approximately 10% of all K-12 students in the United States were enrolled in private schools.

However, this percentage varies significantly by state. The state with the highest percentage of students enrolled in private schools is Hawaii, with a staggering 26% of all K-12 students attending private schools. This is followed by Vermont (22%), Montana (19%), and North Dakota (17%). On the other end of the spectrum, states with the lowest percentage of private school enrollment include Nevada (4%), Utah (5%), and Arizona (5%).

Private School Enrollment in Michigan

As a resident of Michigan, I was particularly interested in exploring the data on private school enrollment in my home state. According to census data, approximately 9% of all K-12 students in Michigan are enrolled in private schools.

This is slightly lower than the national average, but still significant. The three databases used for this analysis provide a more detailed breakdown of private school enrollment by county and school district. In Oakland County, 12% of all K-12 students are enrolled in private schools, while in Wayne and Macomb counties, the percentages are 9% and 8%, respectively. These numbers are comparable to the national average, despite the fact that these counties are known for their affluent suburbs, well-educated parents, and large Catholic populations. One interesting trend in Michigan is the increase in private school enrollment through preschool programs. With fewer free programs available for middle class and wealthy families, many private schools have been able to attract more students through their preschool offerings.

Challenges Faced by Private Schools

While private schools continue to be a popular choice for many families, they also face challenges in today's education landscape.

One of the biggest challenges is competition from charter schools and traditional public districts that enroll non-residents through Schools of Choice programs. In addition, census data shows that nearly 3% of Michigan residents ages 5 to 17 (approximately 48,400 children) are not enrolled in any public or private school. This could be due to a variety of reasons, such as homeschooling or attending alternative education programs.


Private schools play a significant role in the education system of the United States. While some states have a higher percentage of students enrolled in private schools than others, it is clear that private schools are a popular choice for many families across the country. As an expert in this field, I will continue to monitor trends and data related to private school enrollment, providing valuable insights for parents, educators, and policymakers alike.