Children And Education






Children’s development and educational success are influenced by a myriad of factors, ranging from prekindergarten participation to the adequacy of school funding and the challenges and needs of the student and youth population. In Lancaster County, pre-kindergarten enrollment and school spending have both increased, graduation rates remained steady and the share of youth pursuing higher education has decreased.

Prekindergarten helps prepare children both socially and academically for school, and can be especially important for low-income children who tend to be exposed to a less rich vocabulary and have access to fewer resources than their peers. In Lancaster County in 2023, 13% of 3- and 4-year-olds were enrolled in prekindergarten programs, up from 9% in 2007, though still below the state rate of 23%. 

School spending in Lancaster County across public school districts was $19,200 per student in 2021, an increase of 56% since 2001.

Student population challenges include those needing special education services and the number of disengaged youth. In Lancaster County, 19% of Lancaster County students received special education services in 2022. This was a higher proportion than the nation, but similar to the state. About 7% of youths ages 16 to 19 in Lancaster County were disengaged in 2017-21 – not working or attending school. That was flat since 2000 and similar to Pennsylvania and the U.S.

The COVID-19 pandemic complicated Pennsylvania’s student testing: the spring Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) test was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 results were delayed. In general, 2022 results show worse outcomes, with declines in results across all subject area and levels, from district to county to state. It is difficult to determine how much of this decline is due to actual effects of the COVID pandemic as 2022 results may not reflect representative samples of the schools' students. Cross-year comparisons of proficiency are likely to be inaccurate for this reason. 

Nonetheless, some long-term trends are consistent: “Historically underperforming” students -- defined by Pennsylvania as students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, and English language learners -- scored consistently lower than the total County-wide student body, with a gap of about 16 points on 3rd grade English and gap of 13 points on 8th grade math. 

By 2021, 89% of the 2017-18 cohort in Lancaster County graduated, compared to 87% statewide. Lancaster’s rate has held fairly steady since 2011. Lancaster City School District’s graduation rate was 78% in 2021, an increase of 9 percentage points from 2011.

In 2021, 55% of high school graduates in Lancaster County planned to attend college at either a 2- or 4-year program, a decrease of 8 percentage points from 2008. This was lower than the current state rate of 59% (which declined by 10 percentage points over this time period). Lancaster’s rate ranked similar to neighboring counties, whose college-bound rates ranged from 52% to 72%.

Young adults provide a regional economy with a supply of young workers starting out in careers. Lancaster County had a little more than 24,000 young adults in 2017-21 with a bachelor's degree or higher, making up 5.8% of the total population, below the state and nation.

The rates of higher education attainment in Lancaster County by race/ethnicity were generally below the state and national rates for almost every group. The percentage of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher was highest for Asian Americans (44%) followed by whites (30%), African Americans (19%) and Hispanics (18%).

Enrollment in local colleges in Lancaster County has decreased 6% since 2002, a 27% decline from the peak of 29,080 enrollments in 2008.





INDICATORS TREND
Prekindergarten Participation Increasing
Student Performance on Grade 3 English Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 8 Math Not Applicable
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Increasing
Per-Student Spending Maintaining
Students Receiving Special Education Services Increasing
Rate of Foster Care Admissions Maintaining
Disengaged Youth Maintaining
Single-Parent Families by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Plans of High School Graduates Not Applicable
Enrollment in Local Colleges Decreasing
College Graduation Rates Decreasing
Brain Drain/Gain Increasing
Education Levels of Adults by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Average Charitable Giving Maintaining
Voter Registration Rate Not Applicable
Voter Participation Rate Increasing
Age of Housing Stock Not Applicable
Violent Crime Rate Maintaining
Incarceration Rate Decreasing
Incarceration Rate by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Population Density Increasing
Air Quality Decreasing
Water Use Decreasing
Waterways Impaired by Pollution Not Applicable
Change in Population Increasing
Change in Population by Age and Gender Not Applicable
Population by Age Not Applicable
Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
People with Disabilities Maintaining
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Language Diversity Increasing
Change in Total Jobs Increasing
Change in Employment by Sector Not Applicable
Sector Share of Total Jobs Not Applicable
Workers by Occupation Not Applicable
Change in Labor Force Decreasing
People Entering/Leaving County/Region for Work Not Applicable
Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
Change in Average Salary Since 2000 Increasing
Female to Male Earnings Ratio Maintaining
Employer Size Not Applicable
Change in Number of Businesses by Sector Increasing
Change in Total Agricultural Sales Increasing
Spending for Local Government Maintaining
Spending for School Districts Maintaining
Children Living in Poverty Maintaining
Children in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty Increasing
People Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Veterans Living in Poverty Maintaining
Working Poor Maintaining
Median Household Income by Household Type Not Applicable
Median Household Income Maintaining
Median Household Income, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Living Wage Not Applicable
Unemployment Rate by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Households Receiving SNAP by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Household Receiving Temporary Assistance Increasing
Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch Increasing
Median Home Value Maintaining
Occupied Housing Units Maintaining
Homeownership Rate, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Cost of Homeownership by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Median Rent Maintaining
Cost of Renting Increasing
Households Without Vehicles Decreasing
Means of Transportation to Work, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
People Without Health Insurance Increasing
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Health Status Decreasing
Prevalence of Mental Illness Maintaining
Adults Who are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Mortality Rates Decreasing
Mortality Rate, by Race/Ethnicity Increasing
Fatal Drug Overdoses Increasing
Cancer Incidence Decreasing
Households With Internet Access Not Applicable
High-Tech Jobs Increasing
STEM Graduates Maintaining
Science and Engineering Research and Development Maintaining
Single-Parent Families by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Incarceration Rate by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Children in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Median Household Income, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Unemployment Rate by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Households Receiving SNAP by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Homeownership Rate, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Cost of Homeownership by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable


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