August 30, 2007

The Changing Racial and Ethnic Composition of U.S. Public Schools

VI. Changes in Racial Ethnic Isolation in States

At the national level there have been significant shifts in the exposure of students to students of any racial or ethnic identity other than their own. These national changes have occurred in many states as well. This last section summarizes the changes that have occurred at the state level with regard to attendance at nearly all-white public schools and nearly all-minority public schools.

In nearly every state, white students became more exposed to minority students from 1993-94 to 2005-06 (Table 7). The largest declines in the percentage of white students in nearly all-white schools occurred in states in which white students accounted for a large share of the student population in 1993-94. For example, in Utah’s public schools, 51% of white students attended nearly all-white public schools in 1993-94. By 2005-06, just 14% of Utah’s white students were attending nearly all-white schools. That was the largest percentage-point decline of any state. Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Iowa also experienced large declines in the share of their white student populations attending nearly all-white schools. States that had little change in the exposure of white students to minority students generally had a relatively small percentage of white students in nearly all-white schools in 1993-94. For example, in Mississippi in 1993-94, 6% of white students attended nearly all-white public schools. The share of white students in nearly all-white public schools remained unchanged at 6% in 2005-06.

In 28 states, the percentage of Hispanic students educated in nearly all-minority schools increased from 1993-94 to 2005-06 (Table 7). The states with the largest increases in Hispanic isolation from white students tended to be states that experienced considerable growth in Hispanic enrollments. In Maryland, which experienced the largest increase in Hispanic students’ isolation from white students of any state over the 12-year period, 21% of Hispanic students were educated in nearly all-minority public schools in 2005-06, compared with 7% in 1993-94. Other states experiencing relatively large increases in Hispanic isolation from white students over the period were Colorado, Arizona, Rhode Island and Texas. In six states, the percentage of Hispanic students educated in nearly all-minority schools decreased from 1993-94 to 2005-06 (Table 8). These states are Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New York, Louisiana and Montana.

The proportion of black students attending nearly all-minority schools also increased in 28 states(Table 7). However, they were not the same states that experienced a decline in Hispanic student exposure to white students, nor were the declines in exposure to white students necessarily of the same size. For example, in California the share of black students in nearly all-minority schools increased from 26.8% in 1993-94 to 27.4% in 2005-06. Among Latino students in California, the percent in nearly all-minority schools increased from 27% to 36%. States that experienced a relatively large increase in the share of black students attending nearly all-minority schools include Ohio, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Missouri and Maryland. In seven states and the District of Columbia, the percentage of black students in nearly all-minority schools declined from 1993-94 to 2005-06 (Table 8). These states are Louisiana, Indiana, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, Oklahoma and Michigan.

Note on the Appendix

A separate Appendix to this report includes 24 tables on public school enrollment in 2005-06 and 1993-94 for each state and the District of Columbia. Each table reports the distribution of enrollment among the six types of public schools: 0 to less than 5% minority, 5 to less than 10% minority, 10 to less than 50% minority, 50 to less than 90% minority, 90 to less than 95% minority, and at least 95% minority. Tabulations are provided for all public school students and the five major racial and ethnic groups—white, Hispanic, black, Asian and American Indian. The percent distribution and the absolute enrollment counts are presented.

Cite this publication: Richard Fry. “The Changing Racial and Ethnic Composition of U.S. Public Schools.” Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (August 30, 2007) http://www.pewhispanic.org/2007/08/30/the-changing-racial-and-ethnic-composition-of-us-public-schools/, accessed on July 22, 2014.