Every year, thousands of students leave traditional, Houston-area public schools for private schools, homeschools, or non-district charter schools. Some of these students eventually return to the public school setting. To investigate this phenomenon of “returners,” Houston Education Research Consortium researchers followed two types of leavers in a cohort of Houston-area students to see if and when they return.

  • First, the researchers followed students who left the Texas public school system (TPSS) entirely. Because these students left TPSS entirely, it was not clear where they went (i.e., private schools, schools in other states), and only one-third of these leavers returned and stayed in Texas public schools.
  • Second, the researchers followed students who left traditional public schools for non-district charter schools. Since charter schools in Texas are public schools, the researchers were able to follow leavers, and found that nearly 60 percent of these leavers eventually returned to and stayed at a traditional public school.

Understanding that certain types of mobility function as a “revolving door” between educational entities has implications for how schools inform, serve, and support their students and families.

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