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What America's K-12 Students Look Like

What America's K-12 Students Look Like

The Pew Research Center has released some key findings about the 53.5 million K-12 students going back to school next month.

Among these findings, the Pew Research Center found current K-12 students to be the most racially diverse bunch yet.

Using data from the Census Bureau, the Center found that "half of Americans younger than 5 were minorities in 2013, compared with just 17% of those ages 85 or older" and that in some states, one-in-five public school kindergartners are Latino.

Despite an increase in minority K-12 students, the Center found that most students attend schools with the same race being in the majority.

Only 17.1% of white students, it found, attended a school where half or more of the student population was minority in 2012, whereas in that same year "the average Latino student attended a school that was 56.8% Latino, and the average black student attended a school that was 48.8% black, according to a recent report from the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles."

But even with a lack of diversity in schools, positive changes have been occurring across the board in education. For one, a declining rate of black and Hispanic high school drop-out rates has contributed to 2013 seeing the country's lowest high school drop-out rate ever, the Center said.

In regards to STEM, the Center found that students have demonstrated an overall improvement in science and math subjects over the past 20 year but still lag behind the rest of developed countries even despite spending more money per student.

"Although the U.S. spent more per pupil than many countries in 2012 ($115,000), its students performed the same in math as those in Slovakia, which spent $53,000 per student," the Center said.

Interestingly enough, the Center's findings revealed that although Americans are critical about the quality of STEM education in K-12 schools, "Americans believe math and science skills are less critical to success than communication and reading skills: 90% say communication is one of the most important skills for American children to get ahead, while 79% name math and only 58% name science."

But perhaps most importantly of all, the Center found that regardless of lagging behind in science and math on a global scale, the country's education system is generally improving and is providing K-12 students with the best education yet.

"Millennials are on track to be the most educated generation in history compared with older generations when they were the same age. This is partly due to increases in higher education among minorities, as well as to educational gains for women."

Read more about the Pew Research Center's findings here and comment with your thoughts below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

08/10/2015

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