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Indicators

Racial/Ethnic Enrollment in Public Schools
(Last Updated: May 2017)

In fall 2014, the percentage of students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools who were White was less than 50 percent (49.5 percent) for the first time and represents a decrease from 58 percent in fall 2004. In contrast, the percentage who were Hispanic increased from 19 to 25 percent during the same period.

Total enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools increased from 48.8 million to 50.3 million between fall 2004 and fall 2014, and is projected to continue increasing to 51.7 million in fall 2026 (the last year for which projected data are available). In addition, racial/ethnic distributions of public school students across the country have shifted.


Figure 1. Percentage distribution of students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools, by race/ethnicity: Fall 2004, fall 2014, and fall 2026

Figure 1. Percentage distribution of students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools, by race/ethnicity: Fall 2004, fall 2014, and fall 2026


† Not applicable.
1 Data for 2026 are projected.
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.
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," 2004–05 and 2014–15; and National Elementary and Secondary Enrollment by Race/Ethnicity Projection Model, 1972 through 2026. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 203.50.


In fall 2014, the percentage of students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schoolswho were White was less than 50 percent (49.5 percent) for the first time since these data were reported1 and represents a decrease from 58 percent in fall 2004. The number of White students decreased from 28.3 million in 2004 to 24.9 million in 2014. In contrast, the number of Hispanic students during this period increased from 9.3 million to 12.8 million, and the percentage of students who were Hispanic increased from 19 to 25 percent. Additionally, the number of Asian/Pacific Islander students increased from 2.2 million in fall 2004 to 2.6 million in fall 2014, and the percentage of students who were Asian/Pacific Islander increased from 4 to 5 percent. From fall 2004 to fall 2014, the number of Black students decreased from 8.4 million to 7.8 million, and the percentage of students who were Black decreased from 17 to 16 percent. The number of American Indian/Alaska Native students from fall 2004 to fall 2014 decreased from 0.6 million to 0.5 million, and the percentage of students who were American Indian/Alaska Native remained around 1 percent. In 2014, the number of students who were Two or more races was 1.6 million and the percentage of students was 3 percent.2

The number of White students enrolled in public schools is projected to continue decreasing between fall 2014 and fall 2026 (from 24.9 million to 23.4 million). In 2026, White students are expected to account for 45 percent of total enrollment as the enrollments of Hispanic students and Asian/Pacific Islander students continue to increase. The number of Hispanic students is projected to increase from 12.8 million in 2014 to 14.9 million in 2026 and to account for 29 percent of total enrollment in 2026. The number of Asian/Pacific Islander students is projected to increase from 2.6 million to 3.1 million between 2014 and 2026 and to account for 6 percent of total enrollment in 2026. The number of Black students is projected to increase from 7.8 million to 7.9 million during this period, and to account for 15 percent of total enrollment in 2026. Additionally, the number of American Indian/Alaska Native students is projected to remain around 0.5 million and to account for 1 percent of total enrollment in 2026. The number of students who were Two or more races is projected to increase from 1.6 million to 1.9 million and to account for 4 percent of total enrollment in 2026.

Changes in the racial/ethnic distribution of public school enrollment between 2004 and 2014 differed by state.3 In the 49 states for which data were available, the percentage of students enrolled who were White was lower in 2014 than in 2004, with the decrease ranging from 14 percentage points in Washington 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. Across the 49 reporting states and the District of Columbia, the percentage of students who were Hispanic was higher in 2014 than in 2004; the increase was largest in Washington (9 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 2014 than in 2004 in 12 states; all increases were 2 percentage points or less. In the remaining 37 states and the District of Columbia, the percentage of public school students who were Black was lower in 2014 than in 2004; the largest decrease occurred in the District of Columbia (13 percentage points).


Figure 2. Percentage of public elementary and secondary school students enrolled in schools with at least 75 percent minority enrollment, by student race/ethnicity: Fall 2004 and fall 2014

Figure 2. Percentage of public elementary and secondary school students enrolled in schools with at least 75 percent minority enrollment, by student race/ethnicity: Fall 2004 and fall 2014


— Not available.
NOTE: Minority students include students who are Black, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaska Native, and of Two or more races. Prior to 2008, separate data on students who are Asian, Pacific Islander, and of Two or more races were not collected. Data reflect racial/ethnic data reported by schools. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey," 2004 and 2014–15. See Digest of Education Statistics 2006, table 93 and Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 216.50.


The extent to which minority students attend public schools with nonminority students has changed over time. In fall 2014, public schools where minority students4 comprised at least 75 percent of the student population enrolled 30 percent of all public school students, compared with 24 percent in fall 2004. The percentage of students enrolled in these schools increased from 2004 to 2014 across all racial/ethnic groups.5 The percentage of American Indian/Alaska Native students in such schools increased by 7 percentage points, from 30 percent in 2004 to 37 percent in 2014. Increases in enrollments in these schools for the remaining racial/ethnic groups ranged from 2 to 5 percentage points.


Figure 3. Percentage distribution of public elementary and secondary school students, by student's race/ethnicity and percentage of minority enrollment in school: Fall 2014

Figure 3. Percentage distribution of public elementary and secondary school students, by student's race/ethnicity and percentage of minority enrollment in school: Fall 2014


NOTE: Minority students include students who are Black, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaska Native, and of Two or more races. Data reflect racial/ethnic data reported by schools. 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), "Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey," 2014–15. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 216.50.


As noted above, in fall 2014 approximately 30 percent of public elementary and secondary students attended public schools in which the combined enrollment of minority students was at least 75 percent of total enrollment. Over half of Hispanic (60 percent), Black (57 percent), and Pacific Islander students (53 percent) attended such schools. In contrast, less than half of Asian students (38 percent), American Indian/Alaska Native students (37 percent), students of Two or more races (19 percent), and White students (5 percent) attended this type of school.


Figure 4. Percentage distribution of public elementary and secondary school students, by student's race/ethnicity and percentage of own racial/ethnic group enrolled in the school: Fall 2014

Figure 4. Percentage distribution of public elementary and secondary school students, by student's race/ethnicity and percentage of own racial/ethnic group enrolled in the school: Fall 2014


NOTE: Data for Two or more races are not reported in this figure because of small size of population. Data reflect racial/ethnic data reported by schools. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey," 2014–15. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 216.55.


Examining the enrollment data for individual racial/ethnic groups can yield more detailed insights on school enrollment patterns. These data show the extent to which students attend public schools with peers of the same racial/ethnic group. In fall 2014, some 52 percent of White students were enrolled in public schools that were predominantly composed of students of their own race (i.e., 75 percent or more of enrollment was White). Lower percentages of students who were of Two or more races (less than 1 percent), Asian (3 percent), Pacific Islander (3 percent), and American Indian/Alaska Native (17 percent) were enrolled in public schools that were predominantly composed of students of their own racial/ethnic group. Instead, more than half of students of these races were enrolled in public schools in which less than a quarter of the students were of their own race, while 5 percent of White students were enrolled in such schools. About 27 percent of Black students were enrolled in public schools that were predominantly Black, while 31 percent of Black students were enrolled in schools in which less than a quarter of the students were Black. Similarly, 33 percent of Hispanic students were enrolled in public schools that were predominantly Hispanic, while 21 percent were enrolled in schools in which less than a quarter of the students were Hispanic.


1 Racial/ethnic enrollment data for public schools were first reported for 1972 as shown in supplemental table 4-1 from The Condition of Education 2000.
2 Students who are of Two of more races are not included in the trend analysis since prior to 2008 separate data on this racial/ethnic group were not collected.
3 Nevada is excluded from this discussion because data were not available in 2004.
4 Minority students include students who are Black, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaska Native, and of Two or more races.
5 Students who are Asian, Pacific Islander, and of Two of more races are not included in the trend analysis since prior to 2008 separate data on these racial/ethnic groups were not collected.


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