Education

Houston ISD enrollment down 15,000 compared to pre-pandemic level

School officials said the pandemic caused chaos in public education, leading to ongoing declines in enrollment.

Jordan Vonderhaar

More than 209,000 students were enrolled in Houston ISD during the school year interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Three years later, the district’s total student population still hasn’t recovered.

Statistics from HISD show 194,852 children are enrolled for the upcoming 2022-23 school year. That’s 15,000 less than the 2019-20 total.

School officials said the pandemic caused chaos in the education system, and that is the main reason why numbers remain down. Districts in the area and around the country lost contact with some students when classes abruptly transitioned to remote instruction.

"As national trends reflect a decrease in enrollment following the pandemic, HISD is committed to simplifying the enrollment process, removing barriers, and expanding outreach efforts to our surrounding communities to ensure all students have access to a world-class education in HISD,” the district said in an emailed statement.

HISD said its Student Enrollment team has participated in several community events and collaborated with its Research and Accountability department to target the neighborhoods with declining enrollment.

"Each nine-feeder pattern community was canvassed to ensure all families had access to enrollment information," the district said. "Over the next two weeks, our teams will continue to engage families in their communities and provide enrollment guidance and opportunities at several community-based events."

Student enrollment representatives will be at Delmar Stadium during the first week of school beginning August 22 to assist families with enrollment questions and concerns. Outreach efforts include direct mail, e-mail, phone banking and home visits.

Superintendent Millard House III and other district officials went door knocking at this time last year to encourage students to return to school. The "Students Within Reach Walk" resulted in 81 HISD students returning to school. The Walk is an annual event, but the district didn’t confirm whether or not they had an event this year.

On Monday, HISD was given its first Texas Education Agency ranking since 2020. The district received a B, along with several other area school districts like Alief, Fort Bend, and Klein.

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