Study shows thousands of students unaccounted for in Washington public schools

New data from the Associated Press shows more than 10,000 Washington state students, once enrolled in public schools, are now unaccounted for. All these kids left the system at some point during the pandemic and there is no documentation as to where they’ve gone since.

David Knight is an associate professor at the University of Washington’s College of Education. Knight believes this study is the first comprehensive analysis of student enrollment throughout the pandemic.

“The study shows that quite a few students in Washington are unaccounted for,” said Knight.

According to the Associated Press, comparing rates of “missing” students across U.S. states, researchers found that Washington has the sixth highest number of “missing” students in the nation. The report also connects Washington’s plummeting decline in public enrollment to the growth of the homeschool and private school population.

“We’ve seen an increase in private school enrollment and those increases are largest in the earlier grades, kindergarten, and first grade,” said Knight.

Katy Payne, the spokesperson for the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, says more time is needed to look over these newfound findings.

“While enrollment levels have stabilized, we know there are students across the state who have left the education system,” said Payne. “Efforts to reengage those students continue.”