from EducationNews.org - National School Numbers Show Growth, Diversity, Pluses & Minuses
"A Partner in Insight and Commentary"
The Internetís Leading Source of EducationNews
Back to List of Articles
June 14, 2005
National School Numbers Show Growth, Diversity, Pluses & Minuses
by William L. Bainbridge
Rising immigration and the "baby boom echo," have caused U.S. public
school enrollment to steadily increase to an all-time high.
Enrollment is projected to increase steadily to a peak of 50 million
students in 2014. Not surprisingly, immigrant populations are
locating in increasing numbers in western and southern states,
where projected student enrollments will drive the need to expand
school buildings and/or build new ones.
This is one of many interesting facts contained in the newest
annual, Condition of Education, the Congressionally
mandated national educational statistical report recently released by
the U.S. Department of Education
An analysis of this huge volume points to some important demographic
shifts and student population trends that will have far-reaching
impact on the nature of American public education. Elements sparking
- Children of immigrants will continue to swell the student
- A 25% increase in the annual birth rate since the mid-1970s means
more schools will be needed.
- Pre-kindergarten enrollment has increased dramatically; up from
6% to nearly 60% of children aged 3 and 4.
- Violent crimes reported of all kinds in schools declined by 50% in
a decade, and serious violent crimes went down by 70%, from 10 to 3
crimes per 1,000 students.
- Students in suburban and rural schools continue to score higher on
standardized tests in mathematics and reading than students from urban
- The percentages of 4th and 8th graders who read at the proficient
level or above on the National Assessment of Educational Progress
increased between 1992 and 2003, BUT chronic high school dropout rates
continued to grow nationwide. European American students had the l
owest dropout rates and Hispanic Americans had the highest.
- From 1990 to 2003, the math performance of 4th and 8
th graders improved steadily.
- Between 1990 and 2002, total expenditures per student in public
elementary and secondary schools increased by 24% in constant dollars.
- The achievement gap continues: European American and Asian American
students continue to outperform Hispanic Americans, African Americans
and Native Americans. Achievement and English language fluency are
linked. The number who spoke a language other than English at home
and who spoke English with difficulty increased by 124 % from 1979 to
2003. Nearly 1-in-5 students had at least one foreign-born parent in
- 42% of public school students were racial or ethnic minorities in
2003, markedly up from 22% in 1972. Students identified as minorities
were up from 22 % in 1972.
- The Hispanic American enrollment has grown from 6% in 1972 to 19%
in 2003. Hispanic American enrollment surpassed that of African
American students for the first time in 2002.
- The percentage of private school enrollment actually dropped
slightly. The majority of private schools continue to be operated by
the Roman Catholic Church, but that percentage is declining. The
percentage of students enrolled in "other religious" private schools
rose from 32 to 36 percent, with the broad category of "Christian
schools" experiencing the largest increase.
- The number of "home-schooled students" increased to 2.2% of all
students in 2003 from 1.7% in 1999.
- Public school teachers in high-poverty schools were about twice as
likely as their counterparts in more affluent schools to transfer to
another school. This yearís area of "special analysis" was the issue
of teacher mobility. Almost one in five teachers in 1999-2000 started
the school year as new hires at their school. Interestingly, a
majority of those new hires had previous teaching experience.
Those who read, watch and listen to the daily news may be surprised
by the reported reduction in violent crimes in schools. This is
extremely encouraging news. Also there is good cause for optimism in
the finding that the important pre-kindergarten enrollment is on the
It is also important to note this report of national trends does
not include statistics current enough to gauge the success of the
federal "No Child Left Behind Act." The law requires annual testing
of math and reading in grades 3 through 8 and imposes penalties on
schools that fail to improve test scores of students in all racial and
demographic groups. However, if the data continue to indicate
increasing dropouts in urban centers and teachers leaving our worst
schools at these rates, the ability of NCLB really closing the
achievement gap does not look achievable.
is Distinguished Research Professor at the
University of Dayton and is President & Chief Executive Officer
of SchoolMatch®, a Columbus based educational auditing, research, data