Focus at Four: Record number of Texas students switch to homeschooling

KBTX First News at Four(Recurring)
Published: Sep. 7, 2023 at 5:47 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - The latest data from the Texas Education Agency showed 29,765 students withdrew from public or private schools in the 2021-22 school year and made the switch to homeschooling.

The numbers were revealed as part of an open records request from the Texas Homeschool Coalition, a nonprofit promoting and advocating for homeschooling in the state.

THSC Vice President of Policy and Engagement Jeremy Newman joined First News at Four to explain the numbers.

Newman said the data lags because of how the TEA operates. Numbers for the 2022-23 school year will be released in early 2024. The TEA also tracks withdrawals made by students in 7th through 12th grades. Newman believes there is a significant number of students younger than 7th grade making the switch.

“This is certainly anecdotal because we don’t have the hard numbers from the TEA, but in our experience, the lower grade levels are the most prominent grade levels where families choose to withdraw,” Newman said. “So if the total number were north of 40,000 or higher, that would not surprise me at all.”

The numbers come after the first major shift towards homeschooling which happened during the COVID-19 pandemic. That saw a significant increase in parents pulling children from schools to make the switch to homeschooling during the 2020-21 academic year.

“The theory was that by the next school year, it was going to be back down to pre-pandemic levels,” Newman said. “Well, that’s not what happened.”

Newman said with the latest data from the TEA he believes more families are making the switch and sticking to it.

“It’s of course possible that they’ll change again, you know, in the coming school year. But in terms of the trend that we have, based on the data that we can see now, it doesn’t appear that home school is going down.”