children who did not go to school

She’s in fourth grade now, preparing to graduate in a few months, probably leading the school’s modern dance group, and taking art classes.

Instead, Kailani Taylor-Crib hasn’t taken a single class where she used to be high school since the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, it has been missing from an administrative point of view.

She is one of hundreds of thousands of students across the country who disappeared from public schools during the pandemic and never resumed their studies elsewhere.

The Associated Press, Stanford University’s Big Local News Project, and Thomas Dee, Stanford Education Professor An estimated 240,000 students in 21 states found unexplained absences. According to publicly available data, these students did not travel out of state or enroll in private or homeschooling.

In short, they are missing.

“Missing” students received crisis-level attention in 2020 after schools across the country closed due to the pandemic. Since then they have largely become a matter of budget. School leaders and some state officials FINANCIAL CHALLENGES FACED BY THE DISTRICT Unless these students come back. Each student represents money from the city, state, and federal government.

There is no longer any urgency to find students who have left college, those who are entitled to a free public education but who have had no formal education at all.Early Pandemic, School Staff went door-to-door to contact and re-enlist childrenMost of such efforts have ended.

“Everyone is talking about declining school enrollment, but no one is talking about who is leaving the system and why.

“Nobody’s coming,” he said.

undiscussed issues

The missing children identified by the AP and Stanford are far outnumbered. The analysis highlights thousands of students who may have dropped out of school or never attended school. basics of reading Kindergarten and first grade school routines.

That’s thousands of students who matter to someone. Thousands of students in need of help to resume school, work and daily life.

“That’s something no one wants to talk about,” Sonja Santelises, chief executive of Baltimore’s public schools, said of her fellow superintendent.

“It’s what we’re trying to say,” she said, that keeps children from returning to school, such as caring for younger siblings and the need to work. I am concerned that there may not be caring adults at school with whom I can discuss life concerns.

“It’s really scary,” Santelises said.

Discussions about children’s recovery from the pandemic have largely focused on: test scores and gradesBut Dee says the data suggests we need to understand more about out-of-school children and how it affects their development.

“This is major evidence that we need to look more closely at children who are no longer in public school,” he said.

In months of reporting, AP found that students and families are avoiding school for a variety of reasons. Some fear COVID-19, others are homeless or have left their country. Some students were unable to study online and found jobs instead. Some even fell into depression.

Between long hours of online learningas some students were far behind developmentally and academically, I no longer know how to behave Or learn at school. Many of these students are mostly absent from class but are still officially on the school roster. This makes it difficult to accurately count the number of missing students. The actual number of uneducated young people is likely much higher than her figure of 240,000 calculated by AP and Stanford.

In some cases, this was not sudden. Many students were struggling even before the pandemic hit.

For example, Kailani was starting to feel left out at school. In her ninth grade, months before the pandemic hit, she was unhappy at her home and had been transferred to another math class due to her poor grades.

Kailani has ADHD and a white teaching assistant assigned to help her focus in a new class accused Kailani when her classmates acted out and targeted her because she was black. I say I did. She also did not allow Kailani to use headphones while working independently in class.Kailani was allowed in her special education program to help her concentrate.

After that, Kailani stopped attending math. Instead, she cycled through her hallways or read in the library.

Ultimately, the pandemic and homeschooling eased the anxiety Kailani felt from being in a school building. Her grades have improved.

When school reopened, she never returned.

A Cambridge school spokesperson investigated Kailani’s complaint. Sujata Wyckoff said, “Several people showed great concern and compassion for her and the challenges she faced outside of school. He said that he has a “reputation that

lose physical connection

To assess the number of missing students, AP and Big Local News surveyed every state across the country to obtain the most recent data on both public and nonpublic schools and census data on school-age populations. found an estimate of

Overall, the 21 states that provided the necessary data and Washington, DC, lost 710,000 public school enrollments between the 2019-20 and 2021-22 school years.

These states have increased enrollment in private schools by more than 100,000. Homeschooling expands furtherwhich has soared to more than 180,000.

However, data showed 240,000 students not attending private schools or enrolled in homeschooling. could not explain either.

States where kindergarten is an option are likely to have higher numbers of missing students, suggesting that missing students also include many young learners who stay home instead of starting school. increase.

California alone had more than 150,000 missing students in its data, and New York had nearly 60,000. Census estimates are imperfect. Therefore, AP and Stanford conducted similar analyzes for the pre-pandemic years in these two states. Few missing students were found, confirming an unusual occurrence during the pandemic.

The actual number of missing students is likely much higher. The analysis doesn’t include data for her 29 states, including Texas and Illinois, or the number of ghost students who are technically enrolled but rarely show up for classes.

For some students it was impossible to overcome lose physical connection With schools and teachers closed due to the pandemic.

An immigrant from El Salvador, Jose Escobar had just entered 10th grade at Boston Public Schools when the campus closed in March 2020. His school-issued laptop didn’t work. didn’t issue a new one for a few weeksHis father stopped paying his phone bill after he lost his restaurant job. He never remotely logged into his class because the technology hadn’t worked for months.

When online teaching resumed that fall, he decided to leave and find work as a prep cook. “You can’t learn like that,” he said in Spanish. The 21-year-old is still eligible to attend school in Boston, but he says he’s too old to attend high school and will have to work to help his family.

Another Boston student became severely depressed while learning online and was hospitalized for several months. Refusing to leave the room. When his mother asked him about speaking to her reporter, he cursed her.

These are all officially expelled students and may have been removed from the enrollment database. Many others who are enrolled are uneducated.

Last year in Los Angeles, nearly half of the students were chronically absent, missing more than 10% of the school year. For students with disabilities, the numbers are even higher. Fifty-five percent missed at least 18 days of her classes, according to school district data. It is not clear how many more students were absent. The city’s Unified School District did not respond to requests for this data.

when you don’t go to school

Officials in Los Angeles have been outspoken about their efforts to find out-of-school students and help remove barriers that keep them from attending school. It is But for some students and their parents, the problem lies in the school system, they say.

“Parents are being robbed,” said Alison Hartog, who represents about 30 families whose children have missed important learning in physical classrooms in California. Closed for over a year During the early pandemic.

Ten-year-old Ezekiel West is in fourth grade, Read at 1st grade levelHe was shuffled from school to school when educators couldn’t handle his impulsive behavior before the pandemic shut down.

While learning online, his mother struggled with the school’s WiFi hotspot, unable to connect to the internet at home. She works as a home health care assistant and was unable to monitor Ezekiel online.

When he returned to school as a junior in the fall of 2021, he was frustrated by how his classmates had progressed more as the years went by.

“I wasn’t ready,” he said in a recent phone interview. “I wasn’t learning as fast as other kids. That upset me.”

An administrative judge ruled that a Los Angeles school violated Ezekiel’s rights and ordered the school district to give him a place in a new school. I stopped sending him to

“I don’t trust them,” Misha Clark said. Los Angeles school officials did not respond to requests for comment on Ezekiel’s case.

Last month, Ezekiel enrolled in a public online school for students in California. In order to enroll him, his mother agreed to abandon his special education program. His lawyer, Hertog, is worried the program won’t work for someone with his Ezekiel needs and is looking for another, more flexible option.

At least three of the students Hertog represented, including Ezekiel, disappeared from the school long after in-person instruction resumed. Their situation was avoided, she said.

When Kailani stopped logging into her virtual class in the spring of her sophomore year, she received several emails from school telling her she had missed school. Two to four weeks after she disappeared from her Zoom school, her homeroom advisor and Spanish teacher each wrote to her, asking her whereabouts. And the dean of students at her school called her legal guardian, her great-grandmother, to inform her that Kailani had disappeared from her school.

According to Kailani, they had no further contact. She worked for Chipotle and took orders in Boston’s financial district.

In December, Kailani moved to North Carolina for a fresh start. She currently teaches dance to elementary school students. Last month she passed her high school diploma exam. She wants to take a choreography class.

But looking back, she knows things could have been different. She doesn’t regret leaving her high school, but it would have made her feel better if someone at her school had paid more attention and attention to her needs and supported her as a black student. may have changed, she says.

“All they had to do was take action,” Kailani said. “There were many times when they could have done something, and they didn’t do anything.”


This article is based on Collected data According to Associated Press and Stanford University big local news plan. Data were compiled by Sharon Lurye of AP, Thomas Dee of Stanford Graduate School of Education, and Justin Mayo of Big Local News.


The Associated Press education team is supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. AP is solely responsible for all content.