It’s back-to-school time. Here are five facts that may surprise you about the nation’s students and schools.
1. About 56.4 million students are projected to attend school during fall 2020. This includes students who will attend elementary and secondary schools either in person, online or some combination of the two, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Among these students, 50.7 million will attend public schools and 5.7 million will attend private schools. This fall’s public school enrollment is expected to be slightly lower than in fall 2017, when public school enrollment was the highest ever reported.
2. U.S. students are more racially and ethnically diverse than ever. In fall 2015, the share of students in U.S. public elementary and secondary schools who are not white hit a record 51 percent — up from 30 percent in 1986, according to the Pew Research Center. Growth has been especially fast among Hispanic students, who increased from 10 percent of students in 1986 to 26 percent in 2015. However, just 20 percent of public school elementary and secondary teachers were racial minorities during the 2015-16 school year, Pew reported.
3. The United States has more than 130,900 K-12 schools. This includes more than 87,000 elementary schools and more than 26,000 secondary schools, according to 2017-18 NCES data. Approximately 91,000 of these schools are traditional public schools, while 32,000 are private schools and 7,000 are charter schools.
4. Florida has some of the nation’s largest school districts. More than 984,000 students were enrolled in New York City’s school in 2016, making it the nation’s largest school district, according to NCES. Here’s the rest of the top 10: Los Angeles Unified (approximately 633,000 students); Chicago (378,000); Miami-Dade County, FL (357,249); Clark County, NV (326,000); Broward County, FL (271,000); Houston (216,000); Hillsborough County, FL (214,000); Orange County, FL (200,000); Palm Beach County, FL (192,000).
5. U.S. students lag their peers in many other nations in academic achievement and foreign language education. Pew research shows that U.S. 15-year-olds ranked 38th out of 71 countries in math and 24th in science in 2015, according to the Programme for International Student Assessment, an international test. Among 35 nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States ranked 30th in math and 19th in science. Results in a separate test of fourth-graders and eighth-graders from the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress showed a dip in math proficiency but some improvement in science among U.S. students.