A Snapshot of African American School Enrollment in the United States

A new report from the U.S. Census Bureau gives a detailed look at school enrollment in the United States. The report found that nearly one-quarter of the entire U.S. population over the age of 3 was enrolled in school in 2021. In 2021, school enrollment included 4.1 million preschool students, 4.0 million kindergartners, 32.9 million students in first through eighth grades, 17.3 million high schoolers, 16.6 million undergraduate students, and 4.6 million graduate students.

African Americans made up a larger percentage of college and graduate students than was the case at all other lower grades of education. Here are the numbers:

* There were 483,000 Black students enrolled in preschool programs. They made up 11.8 percent of all preschoolers.
* There were 508,000 Black students in kindergarten. They made up 12.7 percent of all kindergarten students.
* Blacks were 12.6 percent of the nearly 16 million students in grades 1 to 4 and 13 percent of the more than 17 million students enrolled in grades 5 through 8.
* There were 2,234,000 Black students enrolled in high school in 2021. They made up 12.9 percent of all high school students.
* In undergraduate higher education, Blacks made up 13.9 percent of all students. At the graduate level, the 598,000 Black students made up 13 percent of all students.

High school dropout rates in the United States have declined about 6 percentage points from 12.5 percent in 2005. This decline has been particularly noteworthy among Black youth. The Black dropout rate declined from 14.2 percent in 2005 to 6.3 percent in 2021.

The report found that in 2019, about 53 percent of all Black children were enrolled in a preschool program. But the COVID-19 pandemic caused significant drops in enrollment either due to fears of contamination and/or families being less able to afford the expense of preschool education. By 2021, 46 percent of White children and only 39 percent of Black children were enrolled in preschool.

In 2011, there were more than 3.5 million Black students enrolled in higher education. In 2019, before the pandemic, there were just over 3 million Black students enrolled in higher education. Two years later in 2021, 2,882,000 Black students were enrolled at colleges and universities.

The full report, School Enrollment in the United States: 2021, may be downloaded here.

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