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Status of Education in Rural America
NCES 2007-040
June 2007

1.9. Concentrations of poverty in public schools, by race/ethnicity


In rural areas, greater percentages of Hispanic, Black, and American Indian/Alaska Native public school students than White or Asian/Pacific Islander public school students attended a moderate-to-high poverty school in 2003–04. This was particularly true for remote rural areas; for instance, larger proportions of Black and American Indian/Alaska Native public school students attended such schools in remote rural areas than in large cities.

Using the percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch as a proxy for the concentration of low-income students within a school (for a comparison of poverty definitions see appendix B), moderate-to-high poverty schools are defined, for the purposes of this analysis, as schools with more than 50 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Approximately 15.3 million public school students nationwide (or 35 percent of all public school students) attended moderate-to-high poverty schools in 2003–04 (tables 1.9a and 1.9b).

Nationally, 63 percent of Hispanics, 62 percent of Blacks, 55 percent of American Indians/Alaska Natives, 29 percent of Asians/Pacific Islanders, and 19 percent of Whites attended moderate-to-high poverty public schools (table 1.9b). A similar pattern was detected in rural areas, where more than half of American Indian/Alaska Native (69 percent), Black (60 percent), and Hispanic (54 percent) students were enrolled in moderate-to-high poverty public schools, compared with less than a quarter of White (21 percent) and Asian/ Pacific Islander students (20 percent).

When comparing the detailed rural locales (fringe, distant, and remote) with other detailed locales (such as large, midsize, and small cities), higher percentages of Black and American Indian/Alaska Native public school students in remote rural areas were enrolled in moderate-to-high poverty schools (87 and 79 percent, respectively) than their peers in large cities (78 and 62 percent) (table A-1.9). Furthermore, approximately half of all Black public school students and nearly half of all American Indian/Alaska Native public school students (45 percent) in remote rural areas were enrolled in high-poverty schools (schools with more than 75 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch), compared with the 5 percent of White public school students in remote rural areas who attended high-poverty schools.


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