Newly available data indicate that the nation’s Hispanic student population continues to grow. More than 12.4 million Hispanics were enrolled in the nation’s public schools pre-K through 12th grade in October 2011, according to a Pew Hispanic Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. Overall, Hispanic students make up nearly one-quarter (23.9%) of the nation’s public school enrollment, up from one-fifth (19.9%) in 2005 and 16.7% in 2000.
Growth in the share of Hispanics among all public school students reflects growth in their share among younger public school students. In 2011, for the first time, one-quarter (25%) of public elementary school children were Hispanic. This follows on the heels of other Hispanic student population milestones. In 2007, more than 25% of all kindergarten students were Hispanic for the first time, and in 2006 Hispanics reached the one-quarter milestone among all nursery school students. 4 Hispanic children made up 26% of public nursery school enrollments in October 2011. However, Hispanic children are less likely to enroll in nursery schools overall than other children. In October 2011, Hispanic children were only 20% of all nursery school enrollments at both private and public schools.]
In 2011, Hispanics made up 21% of all public high school student enrollments. As students in nursery school progress through kindergarten and into elementary school and high school, Hispanic students will make up a rising share of public high school students and all public school students in coming years. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2036 Hispanics are projected to compose one-third of the nation’s children ages 3 to 17 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2008).