MSBA Enrollment Methodology



The Massachusetts School Building Authority (“MSBA”) works with local communities to create affordable, sustainable, and energy efficient schools across Massachusetts. A critical early component in achieving these objectives begins with an appropriate design enrollment that positions the district to efficiently meet space capacity needs throughout future enrollment variations. Based on an agreed upon design enrollment, the MSBA collaborates with each district and its designer to aggressively pursue strategies to create right-sized facilities that are more affordable to construct and less costly to operate and maintain.

The MSBA, with the assistance of its consultant, developed a data driven enrollment projection methodology based on the modified grade-to-grade cohort survival methodology (“enrollment methodology”). The MSBA’s enrollment methodology generates a baseline enrollment projection using historic enrollment data (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education), birth data (Massachusetts Department of Public Health), female population data (US Census Bureau) and female population projections (University of Massachusetts’s Donahue Institute, “UMDI”) as follows:
  • Birth and female population data are used to calculate fertility rates;
  • Fertility rates are applied to actual and projected female populations;
  • Birth data and Kindergarten enrollment data is used to calculate an average birth-to-kindergarten ratio;
  • The birth-to-kindergarten ratio is applied to actual and projected births to generate Kindergarten enrollments;
  • Historic enrollment data is used to calculate average grade-to-grade survival ratios (the proportion of students enrolled in one grade and school year to the number of students enrolled in the next grade and school year) to project the number of students in each grade;
  • Grade-to-grade survival ratios are applied to actual and projected student enrollments to generate grade 1-12 enrollment projections; and
  • The baseline enrollment is calculated using the 10-year average of projected enrollments for the grades to be considered in the proposed feasibility study.
A critical component in setting the design enrollment is an ongoing dialogue with the district throughout the process to understand what they are experiencing in their schools and in their community. The district completes an enrollment questionnaire, an educational profile that provides potential grade configurations and shares local issues that may impact school enrollments for the proposed project, including:
  • Upcoming housing development;
  • Student migration patterns;
  • Private/Parochial/Charter school openings/closures;
  • Potential school consolidations and grade configuration changes;
  • Space deficiencies affecting delivery of educational program;
  • District class size policies;
  • Anything else the District believes may affect enrollment;
Based on the district supplied information the MSBA generates a baseline enrollment projection using its enrollment methodology. The MSBA and the district meet to share and review the baseline enrollment projection and to further discuss potential grade configurations, school consolidations, housing development and other local factors that the district believes may impact enrollment projections.
Based on these discussions, and if applicable additional information submitted by the district, the MSBA may apply one or more of the following adjustments to the baseline projection should supplied data and information demonstrate that an adjustment is warranted:
  • Out of district enrollment bump from new construction that may encourage district students that previously opted out of district to return;
  • Development adjustment should recent housing development differ from that experienced in the recent past;
  • Continuous projected growth adjustment should sufficient continued and sustained growth be observed beyond the ten-year projection period;
  • Changes in student migration patterns are observed in the district’s recent cohort survival ratios that sufficiently impact forecast; and
  • Sustained population adjustment should the University of Massachusetts’ Donahue Institute project significant near term declines in the District’s female population while more updated Massachusetts Department of Revenue census data indicate an overall increase in total population.
Upon agreement of a design enrollment, the MSBA and the district continue to collaborate to further develop the total square foot of the proposed project as informed by the MSBA’s space guidelines and the district’s educational program. The MSBA grant will be informed in large part by the eligible square footage of the project which is needed to house the student population generated by the enrollment projection.