Wilson enrollment lower than expected this fall


Graphic courtesy of dcps.dc.gov

Winston Botts

Last school year, Wilson projected that there would be an annual student attendance of 2,015 students, the highest in Wilson’s history. However, the current count of students attending Wilson is 1,794, significantly below the initial projection.

The initial number of students (2,036) that were listed as attending Wilson in August before classes began is declining as the Wilson registrar confirms the whereabouts of students who were expected to attend Wilson but have ended up somewhere else. This is because many students begin the process of enrollment for Wilson, but do not completely enroll for a number of reasons. One common reason is incomplete residency verification, which has increased this year with around 200 students’ DC residency being unverified.

According to Principal Martin, Wilson hasn’t ever been under-enrolled before this school year. “Currently we have 1,794 students who are registered and residency verified,” Martin said. “We are negative 221 students to meet our projection.”

The discrepancy between the 2,036 students who had somehow been listed as “enrolled” in August, and the 1,794 students who are actually confirmed as attending Wilson means that 242 students were in some way unaccounted for at the beginning of the school year.  

Since the beginning of the year, the total number of unaccounted for students has dropped as the registrar has confirmed more students’ whereabouts, but there is still a 221 student gap between the number of student attendees and the predictions from early 2020. “Whether these 221 students are enrolled somewhere else, or moved, or are just waiting to see when we return to in-person school, or went to a private school or any of that stuff, I don’t know,” said Principal Martin. 

Every year there is a spike in enrollment at the beginning of the school year which drops significantly, typically settling sometime in late fall, but enrollment across all of DCPS is down this year. According to Martin, “the decline in enrollment is across the district.” 

Principal Martin believes that the cause of the drop in enrolled students this school year is the COVID-19 pandemic. “I can only assume that it’s because of COVID-19, and because we have not been in in-person instruction, and because when our return to in-person instruction [will be] is unclear,” she said. COVID-19 may be responsible for the 242 students who comprise the remainder of the initial “enrolled student” count at the outset of the 2020-21 school year, who remain unaccounted for, resulting in a remarkably low number of student attendees at Wilson.