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Executive Summary

Demographic Context

Children in Poverty and Language Minorities

In 2010, some 21 percent of children under age 18 were living in poverty, and the poverty rate for children living with a female parent with no spouse present was 44 percent. The poverty rate for children living with a female parent with no spouse present was higher for American Indian children (53 percent) than for children of all other racial/ethnic groups (with the exception of Black and Hispanic children). There were no measurable differences in male versus female poverty rates for children living with a female parent with no spouse present.

Also, in 2010, some 11.8 million children ages 5 to 17 (about 22 percent of the school-age population) spoke a language other than English at home (2.7 million speaking English with difficulty). The percentage who spoke a language other than English at home and spoke English with difficulty was higher for Hispanics (16 percent) and Asians (15 percent) than for Alaska Natives (7 percent), Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders (5 percent), American Indians (2 percent), children of two or more races (2 percent), Whites (1 percent), and Blacks (1 percent). No measurable differences were observed between males and females overall. However, higher percentages of Asian and Hispanic males (16 percent each) spoke a language other than English at home and spoke English with difficulty than females (14 and 15 percent, respectively) in their racial/ethnic group. In addition, a higher percentage of Hispanic school-age children born outside of the United States spoke a non-English language at home and spoke English with difficulty than did their counterparts born within the United States (35 vs. 13 percent).

Parents' Educational Attainment and Involvement in Education

In 2010, about 11 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 18 lived in a household where neither parent had earned at least a high school credential (either a diploma or an equivalency credential such as a General Educational Development [GED] certificate). The percentage of children with parents who had not earned a high school credential was 11 percent for both males and females. Also, no measurable differences by sex within racial/ethnic groups were found at any of the three levels of educational attainment examined (less than high school completion, high school completion, and bachelor's or higher degree completion). However, differences by race/ethnicity were observed. For example, the percentages of Asian (59 percent), White (44 percent), and children of two or more races (38 percent) who had parents with a bachelor's degree or higher were higher than the corresponding percentages of Black (20 percent), Hispanic (16 percent), Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (18 percent), American Indian (18 percent), and Alaska Native children (16 percent).

In 2007, parents' participation in their children's education varied by type of involvement. For example, among students in kindergarten through 12th grade, about 89 percent had parents who reported attending a general school or PTO/PTA meeting, 78 percent had parents who reported attending regularly scheduled parent-teacher conferences, 74 percent had parents who reported attending a school or class event, 65 percent had parents who reported participating in school fundraising, and 46 percent had parents who reported volunteering or serving on a school committee. A higher percentage of female than male students had parents who reported participation in such school-related activities as attending a school or class event or volunteering or serving on a school committee. However, a higher percentage of males than females had parents who attended regularly scheduled parent-teacher conferences. Parental participation in some school-related activities varied by race/ethnicity. For example, 77 percent of White males had parents who reported attending a school or class event, compared with 62 percent of Black males and 61 percent of Hispanic males.

Special Needs Children

In 2009, about 10 percent of 9th-grade students received special education services. A higher percentage of male (13 percent) than female (7 percent) students received special education services. This pattern was also found for Whites (13 vs. 8 percent), Blacks (16 vs. 7 percent), Hispanics (12 vs. 6 percent), and students of two or more races (14 vs. 7 percent). Among male students, a higher percentage of American Indian/Alaska Natives (27 percent), Whites (13 percent), Blacks (16 percent), Hispanics (12 percent), and males of two or more races (14 percent) received special education services than Asian males (2 percent).

Figure 1. Percentage of students receiving special education services in 9th grade, by race/ethnicity and sex: 2009

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