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Racial/Ethnic Enrollment in Public Schools
(Last Updated: May 2016)

Between fall 2003 and fall 2013, the number of White students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools decreased from 28.4 million to 25.2 million, and the percentage who were White decreased from 59 to 50 percent. In contrast, the number of Hispanic students enrolled increased from 9.0 million to 12.5 million, and the percentage who were Hispanic increased from 19 to 25 percent.

Overall enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools increased from 48.5 million to 50.0 million between fall 2003 and fall 2013, and is projected to continue increasing to 51.4 million in fall 2025 (the most recent year for which projected data are available). In addition, racial/ethnic distributions of public school students across the country and within its regions have shifted. These changing distributions may reflect demographic shifts in the population.


Figure 1. Percentage distribution of students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools, by race/ethnicity: Fall 2003, fall 2013, and fall 2025

Figure 1. Percentage distribution of students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools, by race/ethnicity: Fall 2003, fall 2013, and fall 2025


† Not applicable.
NOTE: Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Prior to 2008, separate data on students of Two or more races were not collected. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded estimates. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Data for 2025 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,” 2003–04 and 2013–14; and National Elementary and Secondary Enrollment by Race/Ethnicity Projection Model, 1972 through 2025. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 203.50.


From fall 2003 through fall 2013, the number of White students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools decreased from 28.4 million to 25.2 million, and the percentage of students who were White decreased from 59 to 50 percent. In contrast, the number of Hispanic students enrolled during this period increased from 9.0 million to 12.5 million, and the percentage who were Hispanic increased from 19 to 25 percent. The number of Black students enrolled decreased from 8.3 million to 7.8 million, and the percentage who were Black decreased from 17 to 16 percent. Since fall 2002, the percentage of students enrolled in public schools who were Hispanic has exceeded the percentage who were Black. Additionally, the number of American Indian/Alaska Native students enrolled from fall 2003 to fall 2013 decreased from 0.6 million to 0.5 million, and the percentage who were American Indian/Alaska Native remained around 1 percent.

The number of White students enrolled in public schools is projected to continue decreasing between fall 2014 and fall 2025 (from 25.0 million to 23.5 million) and to account for 46 percent of total enrollment in 2025. The percentage of students enrolled who are White is projected to be less than 50 percent beginning in 2014 and is projected to continue to decline as the enrollments of Hispanic students and Asian/Pacific Islander students increase. The number of Hispanic students is projected to increase from 12.7 million in 2014 to 14.7 million in 2025 and to account for 29 percent of total enrollment in 2025. The number of Asian/Pacific Islander students is projected to increase from 2.6 million to 3.1 million between 2014 and 2025 and to account for 6 percent of total enrollment in 2025. The number of Black students is projected to fluctuate around 7.8 million during this period, and the percentage of students who are Black is projected to decrease by less than 1 percent to 15 percent in 2025. Additionally, the number of American Indian/Alaska Native students is projected to continue decreasing during this period (from 0.5 million to 0.4 million) and to account for 1 percent of total enrollment in 2025.


Figure 2. Number of students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools, by region and race/ethnicity: Fall 2003 through fall 2013

Figure 2. Number of students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools, by region and race/ethnicity: Fall 2003 through fall 2013


1 Other includes all students who identified themselves as American Indian/Alaska Native or Two or more races. 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.
NOTE: Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
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,” 2003–04 through 2013–14. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 203.50.


Changes between fall 2003 and fall 2013 in the racial/ethnic distribution of public school enrollment differed by region. During this time, both the number and the percentage of public school students who were White decreased in all regions. The percentage of students who were White decreased by 7 percentage points in the Midwest and 8 percentage points each in the Northeast, South, and West. Both the number and the percentage of students who were Hispanic increased in all four regions. The percentage of students who were Hispanic increased by 5 percentage points in both the Midwest and Northeast, 6 percentage points in the West, and 7 percentage points in the South. From 2003 through 2013, both the number and the percentage of students who were Black decreased in all regions. The percentage of students who were Black decreased by 1 percentage point each in the Northeast, Midwest, and West and 3 percentage points in the South. The number of Asian/Pacific Islander students fluctuated in the West and increased in the other three regions. Similarly, the percentage of public school students who were Asian/Pacific Islander remained about the same in the West but increased by 1 percentage point in both the Midwest and South and 2 percentage points in the Northeast.

Changes in the racial/ethnic distribution of public school enrollment between 2003 and 2013 also differed by state. In all 50 states, the percentage of students enrolled who were White was lower in 2013 than in 2003, with the decrease ranging from 15 percentage points in Nevada to 2 percentage points in Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. However, in the District of Columbia the percentage of public school students who were White increased by 5 percentage points over the same period. In all states and the District of Columbia, the percentage of students enrolled who were Hispanic was higher in 2013 than in 2003; the increase was largest in Nevada (10 percentage points) and smallest in Vermont and West Virginia (less than 1 percentage point each). The percentage of public school students who were Black was higher in 2013 than in 2003 in 13 states where the increases were 2 percentage points or less. In the remaining states and the District of Columbia, the percentage of public school students who were Black was lower in 2013 than in 2003 (the largest decrease, 11 percentage points, occurred in the District of Columbia).


Figure 3. Percentage distribution of students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools, by region and race/ ethnicity: Fall 2013

Figure 3. Percentage distribution of students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools, by region and race/ ethnicity: Fall 2013


# Rounds to zero.
NOTE: Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded estimates. 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,” 2013–14. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 203.50.


In fall 2013, the racial/ethnic distribution of public school enrollment differed by region. In most regions, the percentage of public school students who were White was at least 21 percentage points greater than the percentage who were Hispanic. However, in the West, the percentage of public school students who were White (39 percent) was 3 percentage points lower than the percentage who were Hispanic (42 percent). The percentage of public school students who were Black ranged from 5 percent in the West to 24 percent in the South. Fourteen percent of public school students in the Midwest and 15 percent of public school students in the Northeast were Black; both percentages are within 2 percentage points of the overall percentage of public school students who were Black (16 percent). The percentage of public school students who were Asian/Pacific Islander ranged from 3 percent in both the Midwest and South to 9 percent in the West. American Indian/Alaska Native students accounted for 2 percent or less of student enrollment in every region of the United States. Students of Two or more races made up 2 percent of enrollment in the Northeast, 3 percent of enrollment in both the South and Midwest, and 4 percent of enrollment in the West.


Glossary Terms

Data Source

Common Core of Data (CCD)