Enrollment in Wisconsin public school districts declined in the 2021-22 school year by 0.1%. But Department of Public Instruction officials say that mirrors pre-pandemic trends of slow but steady decline in public school enrollment — and in the number of school-aged children in Wisconsin — since 2013.
In the previous school year — during the height of the pandemic — many parents did remove their children from public schools. That 3% decline in 2020-21 was the largest single-year drop in 25 years. That year, many schools still had not reopened to in-person instruction. And the state saw a surge in enrollment in virtual charter schools, reflecting the larger trend towards remote instruction early in the pandemic.
More recently, in 2021-22, some students left public schools for private schools, which saw a 2% increase. During the same period, home-based enrollment decreased by 8%, after a 47% surge in 2020-21 during the start of the pandemic.
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Wisconsin Department Of Public Instruction: Home-based enrollment trends (including public, private and homeschool enrollment)
Wisconsin Policy Forum: Private school enrollment fell during pandemic; homeschool, virtual charters grew
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Headcounts drop in Wisconsin public schools, more students use vouchers for private schools, new data shows