More Than One Million Students Left District Schools. How Do We Know They're Learning?
by Kerry McDonald
In a new report, "Where the Kids Went: Nonpublic Schooling and Demographic Change during the Pandemic Exodus from Public Schools," Stanford economist Thomas Dee reveals that more than 1.2 million students left district schools during the pandemic response. That exodus endured throughout the 2021/2022 academic year, as families continued to opt for private schools and homeschooling even though most district schools reopened.
Indeed, homeschooling accounted for one of the largest growth areas. According to Dee, for every one child that enrolled in private schools during the pandemic, nearly two children became homeschoolers. The district schooling exodus was particularly pronounced in areas where district schools remained closed the longest, as previous research also revealed.
Prolonged school closures and remote district schooling were the triggers many parents needed to explore other educational possibilities for their children. Now that they have discovered private schools and homeschooling, many families have no desire to return to a district school.