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SAT-taker trends clash with overall population changes

More black and Hispanic students are taking the SAT, but is that just because of overall demographic shifts? A reader asks for overall enrollment trends by race.

The data show that the numbers of black and Hispanic students in the city is not rising. The black population has been declining while the Hispanic population is also declining, though less rapidly. The number of Asian students in city schools is rising. This is according to both city figures on public school enrollment and Census estimates on the size of the school-aged population.*

I spent several months last year exploring the public school enrollment data, which contains all kinds of mysteries (one: white enrollment in public schools has declined while the white school-aged population, by Census estimates, which are imperfect, is rising). Alas I only completed my digging just as the New York Sun was closing, and it’s never seen the light of day — until now!

Here’s a chart I put together last year, using city data, followed by a chart using the Census’s school-aged population estimates:

*The demographer consensus is that Census estimates must be examined with a grain of salt. Though the Census does publish estimates of population data every year, splicing those by race or some other variable (like borough) makes the sample smaller, which in turn makes the margin of error larger. So be careful with this data.

UPDATE: Per the request of a reader, the two graphs now use a similar key, color-wise. Also an earlier version of the post didn’t include the full legend for the first graph. Now it does.

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