NC in Focus: Kindergarten Demographics

 

“Today’s kindergartners offer a glimpse of tomorrow’s demographics.” – Jens Manuel Krogstad, “A view of the future through kindergarten demographics” from Pew Research Center

A recent data analysis from Pew Research Center identified 17 states where 20% or more of public kindergartners were Hispanic in 2012. North Carolina just missed Pew’s cut-off; in 2012, 19.4% of kindergartners attending public school were Hispanic or Latino according to the American Community Survey.

North Carolina’s share of Hispanic kindergartners has nearly tripled since 2000, when it was 6.6%.

The 2013 American Community Survey (released this fall) will be the first year that the impact of the recession—which lowered fertility rates and dramatically reduced international migration—will be fully seen in the size and composition of the kindergarten population. (Why? Most kindergartners are 5 and 2013 kindergartners were likely born in 2008.) These fertility and migration trends may slow the steady increase in the proportion of Hispanics attending public schools in North Carolina.

However, nearly all Hispanic kindergartners attend public schools, while 10-12% of non-Hispanic kindergartners attend private schools. Private school attendance declined during the recession, but may be increasing slightly as households recover economically. Changes in rates of private school attendance among non-Hispanics in the coming years will also impact the share of Hispanic students enrolled in public kindergarten.

Note: The American Community Survey (ACS) data align closely with kindergarten enrollment data by race/ethnicity from NC Department of Public Instruction (DPI). Some variance between sources is expected due to differences in time period (ACS is administered on a rolling basis while DPI statistics are point-in-time) and measurement of race and ethnicity.

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