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Thank you to the following organizations for their continued support of our research and this Data Dashboard, which is part of Project STIR (Sparking Transformation using Information & Research).

Moses Taylor Foundation
The Robert H. Spitz Foundation
Willary Foundation
Scranton Area Community Foundation
William G. McGowan Charitable Fund
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Education

The Education section of this report identifies important education indicators, including high school graduation rates, career and technical education, SAT scores, dropout rates, educational attainment, degree completions, special education, and student-teacher ratios. By examining indicators such as these, it is possible to assess education and future economic development in terms of strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities to prepare the tomorrow’s workforce for employment in the region’s business and industry.

4-Year Cohort Graduation Rate

The four-year graduation rate measures the proportion of students who enter 9TH grade and successfully graduate four years later. Hence, this is a different measure than high school dropout rate because it measures only students who graduate within four years and excludes those who graduate in five or six years. Adjustments are made to account for students moving in and out of each school district.

The statewide four-year graduation rate rebounded in 2018-2019 to 86.5 percent after declining in the prior period following several years of consecutive growth. This rate includes all conventional public high schools, as well as career and technology centers (CTCs).

Luzerne County’s graduation rate also improved in 2018-2019 to 88.1 percent following three consecutive periods of declining rates from its peak of 90 percent in 2015-2016. Lackawanna County’s average has remained relatively stable since 2016-2017, reaching 88.4 percent in the most current period. Both counties have matched or outperformed the Commonwealth as a whole in all years analyzed. Across the region, district-level graduation rates in 2018-2019 ranged from 75 percent to just about 97 percent.

4-Year Cohort Graduation Rate: Lackawanna County​

Source : Pennsylvania Department of Education

4-Year Cohort Graduation Rate: Lackawanna County​

Source : Pennsylvania Department of Education

4-Year Cohort Graduation Rate

Source : Pennsylvania Department of Education

Enrollment

The total public school enrollment in both counties is higher than the comparison school year of 2000-2001, yet enrollment across the state has dropped by 4.3 percent since that time. Between the 2015-2016 and 2019-2020 school years, however, enrollment in both counties has fluctuated on a smaller scale. Luzerne County’s public school enrollment has increased by less than one percent over the past five years while Lackawanna County’s dropped by almost one percent since the 2015-2016 school year.

The percentages of students enrolled in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties’ nonpublic schools have been lower than the state’s percentage for each year analyzed. However, Luzerne County’s proportion of nonpublic school enrolled students has been slowly but steadily increasing from 8.7 percent in 2015-2016 to nearly 10 percent in 2019-2020. After following a generally decreasing trajectory in nonpublic school enrollment since 2015-2016, Lackawanna County experienced an increase to 10.7 percent enrollment in 2019-2020, reaching its highest level over the period analyzed.

Percent Public School Enrollment​

Source : Pennsylvania Department of Education

Percent Private/Non-Public School Enrollment

Source : Pennsylvania Department of Education

Public School Enrollment

Source : Pennsylvania Department of Education

CTC Enrollment

Source : Future Ready PA Index

Rigorous Courses of Study

In accordance with Future Ready PA standards, participation in rigorous courses was measured by the percentage of students participating in AP/IB coursework, and the percentage of students enrolling in college coursework during high school. Like CTC outcomes data, this data was not yet available at the time of printing for 2021 Indicators but all previous years’ data are detailed here. Though comparable data is not available for prior years, AP/IB course participation during the 2019-2020 school year ranged from zero to over 45 percent in several districts. The average among all districts in the region was around 29 percent.

College course enrollment ranged from zero to over 80 percent in several districts. The Luzerne County district average was 11.5 percent; the average among Lackawanna County districts was 37.9 percent.

Rigorous Courses of Study

Source : Pennsylvania Department of Education

Charter School Enrollment

In 2020, there were 1,155 students enrolled in Lackawanna County charter schools and 1,523 in Luzerne County charter schools. Compared with the previous year, this was an increase of approximately four percent in Lackawanna County and an increase of over two percent in Luzerne County. Charter school enrollments in both counties are substantially higher than they were five years ago. Lackawanna County exhibiting the more substantial growth in that time with a nearly 30 percent increase in enrollment. Luzerne County experienced a 12 percent increase in charter school enrollment. Wilkes-Barre Area, Scranton, and Hazleton Area school districts had the largest numbers of students enrolled in charter schools.

Charter School Enrollment

Source : Future Ready PA Index

Education Employment

In the 2019-2020 school year, public school districts in Lackawanna County employed 2,251 professional personnel, and Luzerne County districts employed 3,098. About 86 percent of professional personnel in both counties were classroom teachers. Relatively small increases and decreases in staff were seen in either county from the 2018-2019 to 2019-2020 school year. Lackawanna County experienced an overall decline of four classroom teachers, while Luzerne County added six classroom teachers. Lackawanna County has lost classroom teachers each year since 2016-2017 while Luzerne County has maintained or gained teachers over the same time period.

Education Employment: Lackawanna County

Source : Pennsylvania Department of Education

Education Employment: Luzerne County

Source : Pennsylvania Department of Education

Special Education Enrollments

Special education data is collected at the Intermediate Unit Level. The Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit 19 includes Lackawanna, Susquehanna, and Wayne Counties. The Luzerne Intermediate Unit 18 includes Luzerne and Wyoming Counties.

Both intermediate units had significantly higher overall numbers of students enrolled in special education compared with the 2001-2002 school year. Furthermore, both areas have generally experienced increasing trends in special education enrollments in recent years. Enrollment in NEIU19 has increased 29 percent since 2001-2002, while growing 78 percent in Luzerne IU 18. Enrollment in both areas declined in the 2015-2016 school year, but in the most recent data has resumed a growth trajectory.

Specific learning disabilities, other health impairments, and speech or language impairments remain the largest shares of special education enrollments in the counties. The numbers of students in the categories for autism spectrum disorders exhibited growth for the seventh consecutive year, with an eight-percent increase in NIEU 19 and a 10-percent increase in Luzerne IU 18 compared to the prior year. Additionally, special education enrollment for other health impairments rose by six percent in NEIU 18 and seven percent in Luzerne IU 19 compared with the prior year.

Special Education Enrollments: 2001-2002

Special Education Enrollments: 2001-2002

Special Education Enrollments: 2016-2017

Special Education Enrollments: 2017-2018

Special Education Enrollments: 2018-2019

Special Education Enrollments: 2019-2020

Source : Pennsylvania Department of Education. Prior year totals have been revised.
Data is for Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit 19 (Lackawanna, Susquehanna, and Wayne counties) and Luzerne Intermediate Unit 18 (Luzerne and Wyoming counties).
* School Districts reporting less than or equal to 10 .These numbers are not reported individually for the counties but are included in the total.

Public School Dropouts

The number of dropouts in the region has fluctuated considerably over the last decade. Following a peak in the number of dropouts in both counties in 2016-2017, totals have continued to decline for the past two periods. Despite the most recent decline of eight percent in Lackawanna County, and seven percent in Luzerne County, the totals still exceed the ten-year averages for each county.

Public School Dropouts

Source : PA Department of Education

SAT Scores

The College Board altered the SAT format and scoring system in March 2016. Therefore, scores reported here since 2017 reflect the new SAT testing. Each section is scored on a scale from 200 to 800. Prior year scores are not readily comparable due to the significant changes in the test.

The averages among all school districts in Lackawanna County, Luzerne County, and statewide have remained relatively stable since 2017 (in both subject areas). Lackawanna County saw an uptick in scores between 2017 and 2018, and the average reading and writing score in Lackawanna County is higher than the statewide average. Luzerne County is slightly below the statewide average in both subjects.

SAT Scores: Reading + Writing

Source: PA Department of Education

SAT Scores: Math

Source: PA Department of Education

Higher Education

Associate’s Degree

In 2019, the percentage of residents age 25 and older with an associate’s degree as their highest level of educational attainment was 8.8 percent for Lackawanna County and 10.1 percent for Luzerne County. There has been significant growth in associate’s degree holders since 2000, with 2018 being the highest year analyzed for Lackawanna County at 10.6 percent. The percentage of Pennsylvanians with an associate’s degree has kept a gradual upward pace, now at 8.6 percent. Traditionally, both Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties have higher proportions of associate’s degree holders than the rest of Pennsylvania.

Bachelor’s Degree or Higher

In both counties, the percentage of the population holding a bachelor’s degree or higher has increased significantly from 2000, although the rate in Luzerne County has declined for the past two years. Pennsylvania has also seen growth in this area, rising from 22.4 percent in 2000 to 32.3 percent in 2019. In contrast to those with associate’s degrees, the proportion of adults with bachelor’s degrees is lower in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties than in Pennsylvania as a whole. In Lackawanna County, this gap has narrowed slightly compared with 2000 – the bachelor’s degree attainment rates was 90 percent of the statewide rate in 2019, compared with 88 in 2000. Conversely, Luzerne County’s attainment rate has declined from 73 percent of the statewide rate in 2000 to 67 percent in 2019.

Percent of Population 25 Years and Over: Associate’s Degree

Source : U.S. Census Bureau

Percent of Population 25 Years and Over: Bachelor’s Degree or Higher

Source : U.S. Census Bureau

Student – Teacher Ratios

The student-teacher ratio is calculated by dividing the number of students enrolled in a district by the number of teachers employed in the district. The ratio can correlate with a district’s performance; research has shown that students in schools with smaller class sizes receive more individualized attention and therefore tend to perform better on average. However, it is not an ideal predictor of educational quality or outcomes.

In Lackawanna County, 2018-2019 student-teacher ratios ranged from 13.5 in Valley View to 15.4 in the Abington Heights School District. In Luzerne County, ratios for that year ranged from 13.3 in Lake-Lehman to 18.5 in the Greater Nanticoke Area School District. Lackawanna County’s average student-teacher ratio among school districts has continued to gradually decline, while Luzerne County has been relatively flat, with small fluctuations from year to year.

Lackawanna County Student – Teacher Ratios

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Luzerne County Student – Teacher Ratios

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Publicly Funded Pre-K Enrollments – Children Ages 3-4 Served

No data on enrollment in publicly-funded Pre-K for 2017-2018 was available for inclusion in the report, but 2018-2019 data was compiled. As of the 2018-2019 school year, in each of the two counties 26 percent of children aged three or four were served by the publicly-funded early childhood education programs listed. In Luzerne County, participation in publicly-funded Pre-K was at the highest level on record. This trend was driven by growth in Pre-K Counts, Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program, and Child Care Works programs. Lackawanna County suffered an apparent 40 percent decrease in the percent of children served since the last year data was collected. This is due to a near complete elimination of school district pre-K enrollment according to data published by KidsCount Data Center. However, data from Pennsylvania Department of Education for the 2018-2019 school year reported 473 children served by school district pre-K in Lackawanna County, consistent with totals seen in past years.

Publicly Funded Pre-K Enrollments

Source: Kids Count Data Center