States With Most Private School Students

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I went to a fine suburban public school, but sometimes I wondered what it would be like to go to a fancy private school with a fancy sounding name like The Summit Country Day School or The Seven Hills School (the “the” in front is how you know it’s fancy). Those are two of the most expensive and top-rated schools in Cincinnati, which run just over $20,000 a year. That doesn’t have much on New York City private schools, like Dalton, Marymount, or the Ethical Cultural Fieldston School, the latter of which is $47,000 a year. Cities like Cincinnati, where I live, are full of Catholic schools. We have 7 all-girls, 5 all-boys, and many co-ed Catholic high schools in the greater Cincinnati area. So I was curious- where are there a high percentage of private schools? Would NYC or somewhere in the Northeast top the list?

I ran this analysis of the percentage of private school students using both the state population and the total number of students (public + private) as the denominator (the results were pretty similar, but note how DC goes down a lot further, relatively speaking, in the bottom graph).  DC has the highest private to public ratio of students and Utah and Wyoming are among the lowest.

Some observations:

  • DC and Delaware stand out, as well as Hawaii and Louisiana, which I was not expecting
  • For reference, there are 20,653 private school students in Delaware (at schools with grades higher than Kindergarten)
  • The total number of private school students in the database is 4,686,296.
    • Public school students = 49,256,120
    • Percentage of private school students across all states= 9.5%
    • Homeschool students are not being counted. There are upwards of 2 million students being homeschooled
  • Does DC have so many private schools because the public schools are known to be so bad? Do the government elite want a nice place to send their children?
  • States like NJ, NY, RI, and Maryland are high- no surprise there as those are wealthy areas and have lots of old private schools that have been around a while, including boarding schools (I wish my data specified which had boarding students)
  • Sparcely populated states like Idaho, Alaska, Utah and Wyoming have very few students in private schools. I read once that there are extremely few LDS/Mormon private schools as they traditionally send their kids to public schools. However, some areas are so LDS heavy that the public school is almost completely filled by LDS students and taught by LDS teachers, so why bother creating your own private school?

*In the bottom graph, you’ll see that I filtered out schools with only Kindergarten or Prekindergarten. This does not amount to a very high percentage and I kind of regret taking it out as there wasn’t much of a point, but I had been doing analysis on the religious affiliations of schools and wanted to filter that out there because I’m more interested in elementary, middle and high school.
*Data is from

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