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Racial/Ethnic Enrollment in Public Schools
(Last Updated: April 2014)

From fall 2001 through fall 2011, the number of White students enrolled in prekindergarten through 12th grade in U.S. public schools decreased from 28.7 million to 25.6 million, and their share of public school enrollment decreased from 60 to 52 percent. In contrast, the number of Hispanic students enrolled during this period increased from 8.2 million to 11.8 million students, and their share of public school enrollment increased from 17 to 24 percent.

Overall public school enrollment increased between 2001 and 2011 from 47.7 million to 49.5 million and is projected to continue increasing to 52.1 million in fall 2023 (which is the last year for which projected data are available). In addition, racial/ethnic and regional distributions of public school students have been shifting.


Figure 1. Percentage distribution of U.S. public school students enrolled in prekindergarten through 12th grade, by race/ethnicity: Selected years, fall 2001, fall 2011, and fall 2023

Figure 1. Percentage distribution of U.S. public school students enrolled in prekindergarten through 12th grade, by race/ethnicity: Selected years, fall 2001, fall 2011, and fall 2023

— Data not available.
NOTE: Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Prior to 2008, separate data on students of two or more races were not collected. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Data for 2023 are projected.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), “State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary and Secondary Education,” 2001–02 and 2011–12. See Digest of Education Statistics 2013, table 203.50.


From fall 2001 through fall 2011, the number of White students enrolled in prekindergarten through 12th grade in U.S. public schools decreased from 28.7 million to 25.6 million, and their share of public school enrollment decreased from 60 to 52 percent. In contrast, the number of Hispanic students enrolled during this period increased from 8.2 million to 11.8 million students, and their share of public school enrollment increased from 17 to 24 percent. The number of Black students enrolled during this period fluctuated between 7.8 million and 8.4 million, and Black students' share of public school enrollment decreased from 17 percent in 2001 to 16 percent in 2011. In 2002, the Hispanic share of public school enrollment exceeded the Black share and has since remained higher than the Black share in each subsequent year through 2011.

Between fall 2012 and fall 2023, the number of White students enrolled in U.S. public schools is projected to continue decreasing from 25.3 million to 23.5 million, and White students' share of enrollment is expected to decline to 45 percent. The percentage of students who are White is projected to be less than 50 percent beginning in 2014 and to continue to decline as the enrollments of Hispanics and Asians/Pacific Islanders are expected to increase. The number of Hispanic public school students is projected to increase from 12.2 million in 2012 to 15.6 million, representing 30 percent of total enrollment in 2023. During this period, the number of Asian/Pacific Islander students is projected to increase from 2.5 million to 2.9 million, and their enrollment share in 2023 is projected to be 5 percent. Although the number of Black students is projected to fluctuate between around 7.6 million and 7.8 million during this period, their enrollment share is projected to decrease from 16 to 15 percent.


Figure 2. Number of U.S. public school students enrolled in prekindergarten through 12th grade, by region and race/ethnicity: Fall 2001 through fall 2011

Figure 2. Number of U.S. public school students enrolled in prekindergarten through 12th grade, by region and race/ethnicity: Fall 2001 through fall 2011

1 Other includes all students who identified themselves as American Indian/Alaska Native or two or more races.
NOTE: Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Prior to 2008, separate data on students of two or more races were not collected. In 2008 and 2009, data on students of two or more races were reported by only a small number of states.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), “State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary and Secondary Education,” 2001–02 through 2011–12. See Digest of Education Statistics 2013, table 203.50.


Changes in the racial/ethnic distribution of public school enrollment differed by region. From fall 2001 through fall 2011, the number of White students enrolled and their enrollment share decreased in all regions, with the largest decrease in their share of public school enrollment (9 percentage points) occurring in the West . The number of Hispanic students enrolled and their enrollment share increased in all four regions, with the largest increase in their share of public school enrollment (8 percentage points) occurring in the South. From 2001 through 2011, the number of Black students enrolled fluctuated in the South and decreased overall in the Northeast, West, and Midwest. Black students' enrollment share fluctuated in the Midwest and decreased in the other regions. The number of Asian/Pacific Islander students increased in all regions, with the largest increase occurring in the South. Asian/Pacific Islander students' enrollment share fluctuated in the West and increased in the Northeast, Midwest, and South. There was minimal change among other racial/ethnic groups during this period.


Figure 3. Percentage distribution of U.S. public school students enrolled in prekindergarten through 12th grade, by region and race/ethnicity: Fall 2011

Figure 3. Percentage distribution of U.S. public school students enrolled in prekindergarten through 12th grade, by region and race/ethnicity: Fall 2011

#Rounds to zero.
NOTE: Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), “State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary and Secondary Education,” 2011–12. See Digest of Education Statistics 2013, table 203.50.


In fall 2011, the racial/ethnic distribution of public school enrollment differed by region. As a result of regional shifts in White and Hispanic enrollment, there was a difference of 1 percentage point between the White and Hispanic shares of public school enrollment in the West (40 and 41 percent, respectively). However, for all other regions, the share of White students was at least 24 percentage points greater than the share of Hispanic students. The share of Black student enrollment was 24 percent in the South and 5 percent in the West. In both the Northeast and the Midwest, Black students' share of public school enrollment was within 2 percentage points of Black students' overall U.S. share (16 percent). American Indian/Alaska Native students represented 2 percent or less of student enrollment in each region of the United States. Students of two or more races made up 3 percent of student enrollment in the West as well as in the Midwest; they made up 2 percent of enrollment in the South; and they made up 1 percent of enrollment in the Northeast.


Glossary terms: Public school or institution
Data Source: Common Core Data (CCD)


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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education