Enrollment in Massachusetts public schools this year fell by more than 37,000 students, a drop of 4% from a drop in standard enrollment of around 3,000 students in normal years.
A majority of those students, around 13,000, have moved on to private schools, according to preliminary enrollment data from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education presented at a meeting on Tuesday.
This is almost double last year’s figure of 7,299 students who went to private school.
About 7,000 students have opted for homeschooling, a significant increase from the total of 802 homeschooled students last year. Another 12,000 students left the state, which is comparable to previous years.
Overall, 911,431 Massachusetts students are enrolled this year, down from 37,396 students, which is down 3.9% year-over-year. The state has generally experienced a decline in enrollment of about 3,000 students, or about 0.25%, which had previously remained stable.
Asked where all the other kids have gone, Russell Johnston, Senior Associate Commissioner at DESE Center for District Support, who presented the data, said: “I guess the volatility is that students, maybe. be, leave the state or go out of the country and just lack of information in the school department because family life is changing right now.
According to the data, about 46% of the decline in enrollment is attributed to kindergarten and junior kindergarten students. Among older students, there was a drop of only 2.4%.
DESE Commissioner Jeff Riley said: “I think it’s fair to say that a lot of the kids the loss here is for the Kindergarten and Kindergarten students, and we expect that. may many of these children be back in our system for the next year. “
He added that “the parents have simply chosen to keep the children at home for the year, rather than starting on the system.”
The data also showed that for the first time, the majority of the state’s students, 50.9%, are considered high need. The number of economically disadvantaged students increased by 3.8% while the number of English language learners and students with disabilities decreased slightly compared to last year.
Many DESE members peppered Johnston with questions asking for a breakdown of data from specific communities, racial and ethnic demographics.
Johnston said more time was needed to dig into the details: “This is sort of the first time we’ve released this data, it really warrants our digging into it further. “
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Riley said MCAS tests for winter and spring are still progressing.
“Guidance released this fall at the federal level indicated that testing would proceed as planned and that blanket waivers should not be expected this year,” Riley said.
Riley said DESE is “exploring a number of options” for administering the tests for the spring, which may even include home testing in “certain limited cases.”