Public school kids, then and now: On several occasions this week, we’ve discussed the nation’s changing student demographics.
Among other things, these demographics affect the chances of providing certain types of racial balance in our public schools. We thought it might be worth taking a look at the basic numbers.
Our data come from the so-called “Long Term Trend Assessment,” one of the major ongoing studies conducted as part of the NAEP. These data give us a look at the student population from 1975 through 2012, the most recent year in which these tests were given.
According to the folks at the NAEP, this was the breakdown of the 9-year-old student population in 1975:
9-year-old student population, 1975“Others” came in at 2 percent. Most likely, that was mainly Asian-American kids.
White students: 80 percent
Black students: 13 percent
Hispanic students: 5 percent
Our youth population has changed since then. This is the way the numbers looked in 2012:
9-year-old student population, 2012To review additional data, click here. Scroll down to the “Appendix Tables” at the end of the report.
White students: 53 percent
Black students: 14 percent
Hispanic students: 25 percent
Asian-American students: 6 percent
For the record, we’re in favor of all those kids. We think you should be too.
Are more black kids attending “majority-minority” schools than was the case in the past? These data may help explain that phenomenon.
These data also help explain the general drift in the nation’s test scores. Here’s the way that works:
All these demographic groups have shown large score gains on the NAEP in recent decades. That said, black and Hispanic kids still tend to score lower than white kids—and their percentage of the student population has been rising.
For that reason, overall average scores have risen more slowly than the average scores achieved by the various groups. But each of the demographic groups has been scoring much better.
The rise in the Hispanic population has been quite amazing. As recently as 1996, the numbers looked like this:
9-year-old student population, 1996At that fairly recent date, Hispanic kids were still just 8 percent of the 9-year-old student population. Sixteen years later, that had risen to 25 percent.
White students: 71 percent
Black students: 17 percent
Hispanic students: 8 percent
Asian-American students: 3 percent
When you see data about the number of kids attending (take your choice) white/black/majority-minority schools, you have to understand those data in terms of these remarkable changes. Our student population is changing. Would it really be too much to ask journalists to keep up?
Tomorrow: A couple of Los Angeles kids we think you ought to root for