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More Than 5 Million Kids Are Attending Public School in Texas

KUT News
Students at Anderson High learning about the Declaration of Independence. Public school enrollment in Texas has passed 5 million for the first time.

For the first time, more than 5 million students are enrolled in Texas public schools. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) published a report Tuesday that the state hit the milestone last school year when 5,075,840 students were enrolled.

The population of Hispanic students had the largest numerical increase, growing by 64,903 in one year.

Rice University demographer Steve Murdoch, who used to run the U.S. Census Bureau, says the future of the Texas economy will be determined largely by how well those students are educated. 

"Due to a variety of historical, discriminatory and other factors, minority populations have had lower levels of educational attainment," he said. "The reason that's a problem is that education is the single best predictor of the type of job you get."

The TEA says the graduation rate for Hispanic and African American students in Texas is about 84 percent. For white students, it's 93 percent.

The percentage of economically disadvantaged students remained steady at 60.3 percent in 2012-13. However, that is up from a decade earlier.  In the 2002-03 school year, 52 percent of students were economically disadvantaged. 

Only two student ethnic groups experienced a population decline in Texas last year. The first was Native Americans, whose enrollment declined 2.6 percent to 21,795. The number of white students in the state's public schools dropped by 0.4 percent to 1,521,551. 

The TEA report also showed the fastest increase in public school enrollment over the past decade was in the Austin area. Oursixteen county region saw its student population grow by more than thirty percent since 2003.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.
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