Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of for-profit educator American Public Education (Nasdaq: APEI) surged more than 20% Friday after its new student enrollment numbers blew out Wall Street expectations.

So what: American Public managed to post a 20% increase in its fourth-quarter student starts and said it expects a 25% jump in the current quarter. Other for-profit educators, like Strayer (Nasdaq: STRA) and Apollo Group (Nasdaq: APOL), are seeing their enrollment numbers sink amid government scrutiny, but American Public's focus on relatively affordable military and public service courses is clearly helping it thrive in the tough environment.

Now what: I'd be cautious about chasing after this rally. The shares are now up about 70% over the past six months and trade at a P/E of roughly 27. Today's results certainly bode well for American Public, but with plenty of uncertainty still surrounding the for-profit education space, Mr. Market might be baking too much optimism into the price.

Interested in more info on American Public? Add it to your watchlist.

Fool contributor Brian Pacampara owns no position in any of the companies mentioned. The Fool owns shares of American Public. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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