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Indicators

Racial/Ethnic Enrollment in Public Schools
(Last Updated: May 2015)

From fall 2002 through fall 2012, the number of White students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools decreased from 28.6 million to 25.4 million, and their share of public school enrollment decreased from 59 to 51 percent. In contrast, the number of Hispanic students enrolled during this period increased from 8.6 million to 12.1 million students, and their share of public school enrollment increased from 18 to 24 percent.

Overall enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools increased between fall 2002 and fall 2012 from 48.2 million to 49.8 million and is projected to continue increasing to 52.9 million by fall 20241 (See Public School Enrollment). 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 2002, fall 2012, and fall 2024

Figure 1. Percentage distribution of students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools, by race/ethnicity: Fall 2002, fall 2012, and fall 2024

† 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. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Data for 2024 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," 2002–03 and 2012–13; and National Elementary and Secondary Enrollment Projection Model, 1972 through 2024. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 203.50.


From fall 2002 through fall 2012, the number of White students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools decreased from 28.6 million to 25.4 million, and their share of public school enrollment decreased from 59 to 51 percent. In contrast, the number of Hispanic students enrolled during this period increased from 8.6 million to 12.1 million, and their share of public school enrollment increased from 18 to 24 percent. The number of Black students enrolled decreased during this period from 8.3 million to 7.8 million, and their share of public school enrollment decreased from 17 to 16 percent. Since 2002, the percentage of Hispanic students enrolled in public schools has exceeded the percentage of Black students.

Between fall 2013 and fall 2024, the number of White students enrolled in public schools is projected to continue decreasing from 25.2 million to 24.2 million, and White students' share of enrollment is expected to decline to 46 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 Hispanic students and Asian/Pacific Islander students increase. The number of Hispanic public school students is projected to increase from 12.5 million in 2013 to 15.5 million in 2024 and to represent 29 percent of total enrollment in 2024. The number of Asian/Pacific Islander students is projected to increase from 2.6 million to 3.0 million between 2013 and 2024, and their enrollment share in 2024 is projected to increase to 6 percent. Although the number of Black students is projected to fluctuate between 7.7 million and 7.9 million during this period, their enrollment share is projected to decrease from 16 to 15 percent.


Figure 2. Number of students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools, by region and race/ethnicity: Fall 2002 through fall 2012

Figure 2. Number of students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools, by region and race/ethnicity: Fall 2002 through fall 2012

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," 2002–03 through 2012–13. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 203.50.


Changes in the racial/ethnic distribution of public school enrollment differed by region. From fall 2002 through fall 2012, the number of White students enrolled and their share of public school enrollment decreased in all regions, with their shares decreasing by 7 percentage points in the Midwest and 8 percentage points each in the Northeast, South, and West. The number of Hispanic students enrolled and their share of public school enrollment increased in all four regions, with their shares increasing by 5 percentage points in the Midwest and Northeast and 7 percentage points in the West and South. From 2002 through 2012, the number of Black students fluctuated in the South but decreased overall in the West, Northeast, and Midwest. The percentage of Black students in public schools decreased in all regions, with their shares decreasing 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 Asian/Pacific Islander students fluctuated in the West but increased by 1 percentage point in the Midwest and South and 2 percentage points in the Northeast.


Figure 3. Percentage distribution of students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools, by region and race/ethnicity: Fall 2012

Figure 3. Percentage distribution of students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools, by region and race/ethnicity: Fall 2012

# 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," 2012–13. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 203.50.


In fall 2012, the racial/ethnic distribution of public school enrollment differed by region. In most regions, the share of White students was at least 22 percentage points greater than the share of Hispanic students. However, in the West, the difference between the shares of White students and Hispanic students in public school enrollment in 2012 was only 2 percentage points (39 and 41 percent, respectively) following regional shifts in White and Hispanic enrollment. The percentage of Black student enrollment ranged from 5 percent in the West to 24 percent in the South. In the Midwest and Northeast, Black students' share of public school enrollment was 14 and 15 percent, respectively, both of which are 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 2 percent of enrollment in the Northeast and 3 percent of enrollment in the South, Midwest, and West.


1 2024 is the last year for which projected data are available.


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