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Indicator 6: Elementary and Secondary Enrollment
(Last Updated: July 2017)

Between fall 2003 and fall 2013, the percentage of students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools decreased for students who were White (from 59 to 50 percent) and Black (from 17 to 16 percent). In contrast, the percentage increased for students who were Hispanic (from 19 to 25 percent) and Asian/Pacific Islander (from 4 to 5 percent) during the same time period.

Overall public elementary and secondary school enrollment 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 (which is the last year for which projected data are available). In addition, racial/ethnic distributions of students in public schools have been shifting. Public schools include both traditional public schools and public charter schools. This indicator discusses overall public school enrollment, as well as enrollment for traditional public and public charter schools separately.

Between 2003 and 2013, the percentage of students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools decreased for students who were White (from 59 to 50 percent) and Black (from 17 to 16 percent). In contrast, the percentage of students enrolled in public schools increased for students who were Hispanic (from 19 to 25 percent) and Asian/Pacific Islander (4 to 5 percent) during this time period. Enrollment of American Indian/Alaska Native students was around 1 percent from 2003 to 2013. The percentage of students enrolled in public schools who were of Two or more races increased between 2008 (the first year for which data are available) and 2013 from 1 to 3 percent.


Figure 6.1. Percentage distribution of public school students enrolled in prekindergarten through 12th grade, by race/ethnicity: Fall 2003, fall 2013, and fall 2025

Figure 6.1. Percentage distribution of public school students enrolled in prekindergarten through 12th grade, by race/ ethnicity: Fall 2003, fall 2013, and fall 2025


† Not applicable.
1 In 2003, data on students of Two or more races were not collected.
2 Projected.
NOTE: Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Some data have been revised from previously published figures. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded estimates.
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 Projection Model, 1972 through 2025. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 203.50.


Between fall 2013 and fall 2025, the percentages of students enrolled in public schools are projected to continue to decrease for students who are White (from 50 to 46 percent) and Black (from 16 to 15 percent). In contrast, the percentages are projected to increase over this period for students who are Hispanic (from 25 to 29 percent), Asian/Pacific Islander (from 5 to 6 percent), and of Two or more races (from 3 to 4 percent). The percentage of students who are American Indian/Alaska Native is projected to be about 1 percent in 2025.


Figure 6.2. Percentage distribution of public school students enrolled in prekindergarten through 12th grade, by region and race/ethnicity: Selected years, fall 2003 through fall 2013

Figure 6.2. Percentage distribution of public school students enrolled in prekindergarten through 12th grade, by region and race/ethnicity: Selected years, fall 2003 through fall 2013


1 Prior to 2008, data on students of Two or more races were not collected. Since data on students of Two or more races for 2008 and 2009 were reported by only a small number of states, figures for these years are not comparable to figures for 2010 and later years.
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," Selected years, 2003–04 through 2013–14. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 203.50.


Between fall 2003 and fall 2013, the percentages of students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools who were White and Black decreased in all regions of the United States. In contrast, the percentage of Hispanic students between 2003 and 2013 increased in all regions of the United States. The largest increase was in the South, where the percentage of Hispanic students increased by 7 percentage points. The percentages of Asian/Pacific Islander students in the Northeast, Midwest, and South between 2003 and 2013 increased by 1 or 2 percentage points; however, the percentage did not change for those enrolled in the West during this time period. Between 2003 and 2013, the percentage of American Indian/Alaska Native students changed less than 1 percentage point across all regions. The percentage of students of Two or more races was higher in 2013 than in 2009 (the first year for which data are available for all regions) across all regions.

In fall 2013, the percentage distribution of racial/ethnic groups enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools varied by state or jurisdiction. White students had the highest share of enrollment in Vermont (at 92 percent) and the lowest in the District of Columbia (at 9 percent). Black students had the highest enrollment shares in the District of Columbia (at 74 percent), and the lowest in Montana (less than 1 percent). The highest shares of Hispanic enrollment were in New Mexico (at 61 percent), and the lowest was in West Virginia (at 1 percent). Hawaii had the highest enrollment shares of Asian students (at 32 percent), and West Virginia had the lowest (at 1 percent). Hawaii also had the highest enrollment share of Pacific Islander students (at 32 percent) and 42 states and the District of Columbia had shares of Pacific Islander students of less than one-half of one percent. Alaska had the highest shares of American Indian/Alaska Native students (at 24 percent), and 23 states and the District of Columbia had shares of American Indian/Alaska Native students of less than one-half of one percent. Hawaii had the highest shares of students of Two or more races (at 10 percent), and Mississippi had the lowest (at 1 percent).


Figure 6.3. Percentage distribution of public school students enrolled in prekindergarten through 12th grade, by student race/ethnicity and traditional public or public charter school status: School year 2013–14

Figure 6.3. Percentage distribution of public school students enrolled in prekindergarten through 12th grade, by student race/ethnicity and traditional public or public charter school status: School year 2013–14


NOTE: Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded estimates.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey," 2013–14. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 216.30.


Although the majority of students enrolled in public schools are enrolled in traditional public schools, the number of students enrolled in public charter schools has grown substantially in the past decade. Public charter school enrollment increased from 0.3 million students in the 1999–2000 school year to 2.5 million students in the 2013–14 school year. There were differences in the racial/ethnic distribution of students attending traditional public schools and public charter schools in 2013–14. The shares of Black and Hispanic students in public charter schools (27 and 30 percent, respectively) were greater than the shares of Black and Hispanic students in traditional public schools (15 and 25 percent, respectively). However, the shares of White and Asian/Pacific Islander students in public charter schools (35 and 4 percent, respectively) were less than the shares of White and Asian/Pacific Islander students in traditional public schools (51 and 5 percent, respectively).

There were also differences in the racial/ethnic distribution of students attending public schools overall (i.e., traditional public schools and public charter schools combined) and private schools. In fall 2013, the share of White students in private schools (70 percent) was higher than the share in public schools (50 percent), and the same pattern was evident for Asian students (6 vs. 5 percent), Pacific Islander students (1 percent vs. less than 1 percent), and students of Two or more races (4 vs. 3 percent). In contrast, the shares of students in private schools were lower than the shares in public schools for students who were Black (9 vs. 16 percent), Hispanic (10 vs. 25 percent), and American Indian/Alaska Native (less than 1 percent vs. 1 percent).


Figure 6.4. Percentage distribution of private elementary and secondary students, by race/ethnicity and school type: Fall 2013

Figure 6.4. Percentage distribution of private elementary and secondary students, by race/ethnicity and school type: Fall 2013


# Rounds to zero.
NOTE: Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Percentage distribution is based on the students for whom race/ethnicity was reported. Includes schools that offer kindergarten or higher grades. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded estimates. Race/ethnicity was not collected for prekindergarten students (819,000 students in fall 2013).
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Private School Universe Survey (PSS), 2013–14. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 205.40.


The share of enrollment in particular types of private schools also varied by race/ethnicity. In fall 2013, Hispanic students had a greater share of enrollment in Catholic schools (14 percent) than in other religious schools (7 percent) and in nonsectarian schools (8 percent). In contrast, White students had a greater share of enrollment in other religious schools (74 percent) than in Catholic schools (68 percent) and nonsectarian schools (66 percent). Black students had a greater share of enrollment in nonsectarian schools (11 percent) than in Catholic schools (8 percent). Asian students and students of Two or more races had a greater share of enrollment in nonsectarian schools than in Catholic and other religious schools. Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native students each had around 1 percent or less of the share of enrollment in all types of private schools.

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